Answer: Yes

We gathered as much evidence as possible to verify that vinegar(specifically, apple cider) makes a good repellent for mosquitoes.

Summary of Scientific Research

All vinegar works to repel mosquitoes due to the overpowering smell of vinegar.  The only exception to this is white vinegar, which must be mixed with something like water to become 100% effective.

Another reason that vinegars repel mosquitoes is due to how mosquitoes taste through their legs, letting chemicals that give off a strong taste, such as DEET, repel mosquitoes(1).  Also, vinegars like apple cider vinegar, if consumed enough, can strengthen your body’s natural odor to repel mosquitoes and other insects(2).

Consuming apple cider vinegar is also said to give your body a natural, repelling odor, but using it in spray form is much more effective.  However, it’s also possible to kill mosquito larvae with vinegar, putting an end to the problem before it can begin, only problem being that a 15% vinegar, 85% water solution takes 18 hours to kill the larvae(3).  

Our Thoughts

Vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, is touted as one of the best mosquito repellents around, since it’s easily accessible and simple to use.  However, many of these sources don’t point out that white vinegar will not work well by itself, needing to be mixed with half a spray bottle of water(4).

But if you have apple cider vinegar, red vinegar, or enough water to mix your white vinegar, there’s no reason you can’t use vinegar as a cheap solution to your mosquito problems.  Just be sure not to go overboard and smell like vinegar at work the next day.

If you are desperate for a solution to mosquito larvae, then vinegar is a slow solution.  According to this report, cinnamon works much faster and is as easily accessible(3). 

Forms of Vinegar and Where to Get It

  • Bottled – All kinds of vinegar can be purchased from grocery stores in the form of liquid in a bottle.  If you do your own shopping, you won’t be surprised by this. Vinegar’s easily accessible nature is why it’s high on the list of many repellent lists.  
    • And while consuming vinegar is told to help, vinegar is much more effective in a sprayable form, though spraying won’t do much when killing larvae.  If killing larvae, mix the vinegar with water and pour it on the larvae until you’re basically drowning them. It will take 18 hours, as mentioned earlier, but it’ll at least get the job done.
  • Homemade Spray – While you won’t be able to purchase vinegar spray on your own, it’s easy to make your own at home for a fun DIY project.  Also, just drinking vinegar won’t do much besides the aforementioned body odor. If you want a good home solution for mosquito repellent, here’s what you’ll need:
    • If using apple cider vinegar, all you need is the vinegar and a spray bottle.  Pour it into a spray bottle and spray it directly on your exposed skin. The scent will do the rest.
    • If you have something like white vinegar, you’ll need to mix:
      • 3 cups of water
      • 1 cup of vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon of dish soap
      • All into a spray bottle. 
    • While you can spray this mixture onto your skin, it’ll be more effective sprayed around the area you want mosquitoes to stay away from.  This mixture also works well repelling other bugs, such as ants or wasps.

From there, you can start to enjoy a home free of mosquitoes.  And hey, even if it doesn’t work, you have extra vinegar for some great homemade meals.

Sources

1 – npr.com – “If mosquitoes taste DEET through their legs, then smothering the legs with glue should cause orco mutants to feed on Dennis’ arm as though it were DEET-free. That’s precisely what happened: Dennis’ arm got covered in bites. This confirmed to Dennis that mosquitoes get freaked when DEET touches their feet.”

2 – almanac.com – If you take in enough apple cider vinegar by putting it on foods you eat, you’ll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies.”

3 – cssf.usc.edu –  “The solution of 15% cinnamon to 85% water was the most effective for killing mosquito larvae, taking only 6 hrs. 5% cinnamon to 95% water was still effective, taking 24 hrs to kill all the larvae. The solution of 15% citric acid to 85% water took 42 hrs. to kill all the larvae. The 5% citric acid to 95% water solution was ineffective. The 15% vinegar to 85% water solution took 18 hrs to kill all the larvae. the 5% vinegar to 95% water solution was ineffective.”

4 – hunker.com – “White vinegar alone isn’t enough to ward off mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and other diseases, you need a more effective repellent. Use a commercial insect repellent that contains DEET as its active ingredient to keep mosquitoes off you while you’re outside.”

Other Household Items as Mosquito Repellents

Checkout our analysis of other household items as natural mosquito repellents: