If you live anywhere mosquitoes are common, and especially if you’re outside during peak season, you already know how intolerable it is to be mobbed by these bloodsucking parasites.
Aside from the unsightly and maddingly itchy welts they leave behind, mosquitoes are actually quite dangerous because of the diseases they transmit.
You’d be wise to take steps to keep mosquitoes away from you, whatever it is you’re doing outside.
Bug sprays work great, but I’m not a big fan of drenching myself in questionable chemicals.
How about something a little simpler, if not more natural? What about rubbing alcohol? Will rubbing alcohol keep mosquitoes away?
No, rubbing alcohol is not a good mosquito repellent. Concentrated rubbing alcohol is effective at killing many insects, including mosquitoes, but it doesn’t necessarily drive them away. It evaporates too quickly to make a worthwhile repellent you can apply to yourself or clothing.
Reaching for a bottle of rubbing alcohol might be good thinking if you’re trying to repel mosquitoes and don’t have anything else to try, or if you want a simple and straightforward insect killer, but you cannot rely on it for passive mosquito protection.
It’s simply not going to keep them away from you and prevent you from being bitten. I’ll tell you why down below…
How Do Mosquitoes Find Prey?
Before we get down to the nuts and bolts of why rubbing alcohol isn’t a great repellent, it is helpful to know how mosquitoes find their prey, meaning find people!
Mosquitoes use multiple senses to easily home in on people, chasing us down by detecting our body heat, our exhaled carbon dioxide and also by smelling the lactic acid that comes out of our very skin.
Mosquitoes also show a marked tendency for type O blood if you can believe it!
Worse yet, whenever your heart starts pumping and you start sweating, you produce more and more of these signals to these insects, meaning you’ll be a prime target.
The only way to avoid being dinner is to conceal yourself by blocking these signals somehow or, more directly, using something that will drive mosquitoes away.
Sadly, rubbing alcohol just isn’t it…
So Why Doesn’t Rubbing Alcohol Work to Keep Mosquitoes Away?
Rubbing alcohol is not a particularly effective mosquito repellent for most situations, although it’s a pretty effective insecticide.
Simply enough, rubbing alcohol does not contain any aroma which mosquitoes will sense in the air while approaching and then decide to look elsewhere for an easier, less offensive dinner.
Worse, rubbing alcohol evaporates very quickly leaving behind no trace that it was even there.
When you need extended protection while you’re outside, that’s the last thing you want if you’re being plagued by mosquitoes!
Will Rubbing Alcohol Kill Mosquitoes?
Yes. Rubbing alcohol will kill mosquitoes fairly quickly, and this is the one good attribute it has going for it in our fight against the bloodsuckers.
Rubbing alcohol has been tested on a variety of insects as an insecticide and proven effective by severely dehydrating the affected critters, killing them.
Insects are particularly vulnerable to dehydration as they depend on their carapace to hold in vital fluids.
Rubbing alcohol will readily strip these fluids from them while dissolving the waxy cuticle that makes their carapace waterproof.
You can use rubbing alcohol in a mister or spray bottle to directly attack airborne clouds of mosquitoes.
Is 70% Rubbing Alcohol Effective Against Mosquitoes?
Only partially, and only as a direct insecticide. 70% rubbing alcohol is strong enough to kill mosquitoes pretty easily, although it might not do it instantly.
Is 90% Rubbing Alcohol Effective Against Mosquitoes?
Yes, but again only partially as strong as it is.
90% rubbing alcohol is even more dehydrating compared to the weaker stuff and highly effective at killing mosquitoes, although it still won’t do anything for you as an effective deterrent you can depend on.
Rubbing Alcohol Has Been Tested as Insecticide on Other Insects
I should also tell you that, to the best of my knowledge, there are no studies that have been done on rubbing alcohol as an insecticide specifically against mosquitoes.
It has been tested and proven effective against other insects, namely bed bugs, but not mosquitoes.
That being said, there’s nothing to suggest specific insects would be especially resistant to rubbing alcohol deployed in this way against them, and definitely not against mosquitoes!
How to Prepare Rubbing Alcohol as a Mosquito Defense
If you’re going to use rubbing alcohol in your fight against mosquitoes, pretty much the only way to do it is as a mist or spray.
You can simply put it in a spray bottle and then squirt the annoying critters as they swarm around you, or congregate around a light or any other location.
For major applications a handheld sprayer or backpack sprayer might be best.
How Often Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Repel Mosquitoes?
Assuming you aren’t worried about contaminating the surrounding area, aren’t worried about discoloring or harming any surfaces or possessions, and aren’t near any open flames, you can use rubbing alcohol directly against mosquitoes when and as required to kill them.
Is Rubbing Alcohol Safe as Mosquito Repellent or Killer?
Yes, generally, but only when used cautiously against mosquitoes directly as insecticide.
No matter how tempting it is, you shouldn’t use rubbing alcohol on your skin or clothing as a mosquito repellent.
It just doesn’t work well, and even if mosquitoes would run from the stuff and leave you alone, the protection is going to be very short-lived because rubbing alcohol evaporates so quickly in the open air.
And aside from this, using rubbing alcohol on your skin or clothing has some significant risk factors…
Caution: Rubbing Alcohol is Highly Drying and Flammable
Rubbing alcohol is both highly drying and highly flammable, two other marks against it if you’re planning on using it desperately as a mosquito repellent.
It will easily catch fire from a spark, flame or very hot surface.
If you put it directly on your skin, it’s going to severely dry it out; dry skin is more vulnerable to all sorts of conditions and injuries, and if you’re working hard it can even crack and split open painfully!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.