In my years hiking I’ve learned that there are only so many solutions that actually work to repel ticks.
Ticks are stubborn little devils, and while chemicals like permethrin and DEET are proven to stop them in their tracks or repel them, there are few all-natural repellents that are also guaranteed to protect you from ticks without the use of any nasty chemicals.
At-home solutions like apple cider vinegar and baking soda are rumored to kill and repel ticks, but there’s really no evidence to support their effectiveness.
But there are a variety of natural tick repellents that do have good evidence of their effectiveness and I've used quite a few of these to keep myself, my kids and pets tick free during our summer bushwalks.
The best natural tick repellents include:
- Cedarcide Tick Repellent Spray containing cedar oil, a natural deterrent to ticks
- Murphy’s Naturals Insect Repellent containing lemon eucalyptus oil, the only plant-based repellent recommended by the CDC
- Products that incorporate a mix of natural repellents from brands like Wondercide, Yaya Tick Ban, and Nantucket Spider
I’ve never been super comfortable using sprays with permethrin (which is the best chemical tick repellent for hiking) around my kids and pets, so I’m always on the lookout for the best natural repellents that actually work on ticks.
However, natural repellents come with their unique pros and cons being that they contain varying ingredients, so you’ll want to read deeper to find your go-to tick repellent that you can rely on.
1. Cedarcide Tick Repellent Spray
Cedarwood oil is toxic to ticks and their larvae, making it useful as a natural tick repellent.
Cedarcide is the premier brand for cedarwood repellents, and what I love about their products is that they can be used in a wide variety of ways.
They sell granules that can be used in the yard or around a pool, sprays that can be used on dogs and other furry pets, and most importantly, a topically tick repellent for us humans.
Cedarwood tick repellent spray causes dehydration, suffocation, and pretty much dissolves ticks, all while being safe to spray on your skin, clothes, and around kids and pets.
Results like that are hard to come by in a naturally sourced spray, but what I like most is that you don’t have to wait to wear clothes after applying Cedarcide (no planning ahead necessary).
You will however need to reapply the spray every 5-7 hours or as needed, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue since there’s no wait time. They sell smaller bottles that are great for carrying around in a bag while hiking, so you won’t need to sacrifice packing space.
See the latest price of a Cedarcide Tick Repellent 4-Pack on Amazon.
Non toxic and family safe bug spray made from cedarwood oil. Can help to kill and repel unwanted pests.
2. Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Spray
Lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE) is the only plant-based tick repellent that is recommended by the CDC, and it’s also EPA-registered. This means there’s decent evidence to suggest it’s a working solution for ticks.
While the extract from lemon eucalyptus isn’t super effective at killing ticks, it creates a barrier that masks the scent of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that we emit that are attractive to ticks, causing them to steer clear.
The only potential downside to OLE is that there have been reported cases of slight skin irritation, so you may want to test it out on a smaller area of skin to check for a reaction before you go full-on.
Like other natural sprays, OLE is safe to spray on clothes, skin, and gear, which makes it a good all-in-one.
My favorite brand is Murphy’s Naturals Tick Spray, which contains 30% OLE. The repellency lasts up to 4 hours for deer ticks and up to 8 hours for lone star and brown dog ticks.
I like that it comes in a conveniently sized bottle, and the spray nozzle makes applying it fairly easy.
See the latest price of Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Tick Spray on Amazon.
Protects against mosquitoes for up to 6 hours, ticks for up to 4 hours and lone star and brown dog ticks for up to 8 hours. All without any nasty chemicals like DEET.
Made from 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, 70% distilled water and ethanol made from corn. Enjoy the natural power from the only plant-based repellent recommended by the CDC
3. Nantucket Spider Organic Tick Repellent
Nantucket Spider makes a specialized tick repellent spray that uses all-natural ingredients to protect clothes, gear, and your skin.
The formula uses ingredients including rosemary, cinnamon, cedarwood, peppermint, spearmint, geranium, and clove, which are all generally known to scare away ticks.
While they do claim that their formula was shown to repel 92% of deer ticks in independent testing (which is great, assuming it’s accurate), you’ll need to be constantly reapplying the spray every 1.5 hours to guarantee protection.
Compared to the heavy-hitting chemicals like DEET spray (8 hours of repellency) and permethrin-lined clothing (lasts up to 70 washes), Nantucket Spider’s spray is definitely lacking in the long-lasting category, but if you want a product that includes a good variety of ingredients, it’s definitely a solid option.
Lab tested and highly effective. Nantucket Spider Extra Strength Tick Spray for Humans is made from a broad spectrum of steam-distilled, organic essential oils that are proven to repel ticks, including rosemary, cinnamon, cedarwood, peppermint, spearmint, geranium and clove. Distilled water, vegetable glycerin and natural vanillin (made from cloves) are our only other ingredients.
Wondercide is another natural tick repellent that utilizes lemongrass, cedarwood oil and other essential oils to scare away ticks. As with other naturally sourced products, it’s safe for clothes and skin.
Unlike Cedarcide however, their formula incorporates a couple of other main ingredients such as lemongrass oil and sodium lauryl sulfate, which are known to have similar harmful effects on ticks.
They actually have a few different scents for their products, which I find nice because you won’t have to put up with that icky insect spray smell, and you’ll be able to pick between scents like peppermint, rosemary, and lemongrass.
The biggest downside of Wondercide is that they recommend reapplying the spray every hour, especially if you’re outside for a long while, which might end up being a bit of a hassle compared to alternatives.
In my opinion, their most impressive products are actually their all-natural tick treatments for the yard and pets, as their formula is a bit more effective and longer lasting in these forms.
Their pet formula will only need to be reapplied every 2-3 days, which makes it fitting for a weekend getaway or day spent hiking, and the yard formula only needs two applications to break the life cycle of the pests.
Proven-to-work spray formula that repels 98% of mosquitoes. In addition to being a plant-based mosquito repeller, this spray will kill and repel hundreds of common pests, such as gnats, ticks, fleas, no-see-ums, spiders, and other biting flies.
DEET free and gentle and safe for people and pets of all ages
5. Yaya Tick Ban
Yaya Tick Ban is a purely plant-based DEET-free repellent that pretty much hits all of the big deterrents to ticks. The formula uses cedarwood oil, soybean oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint, and a few other ingredients that when mixed together are guaranteed to repel the annoying little creatures.
They say to reapply their product as needed, but I think it’s safe to assume that similar to other natural repellents, you should probably be reapplying every 1-1.5 hours to guarantee that you’re protected.
One favorite aspect of Yaya’s spray is the herbal scent (no gross repellent smell), and I like that the bottle is small enough to carry around in a bag or even in my pocket.
If you’re looking for an all-natural tick repellent that hits all of the key ingredients, Yaya’s Tick Ban might be a good product to test out.
Made in the USA with pure, certified organic and non-gmo soybean oil and castor oil, as well as natural oils of cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary, geranium, lemongrass, and thyme. Effective in keeping ticks away and has a fresh herbal scent.