Many of us already have had encounters with ticks from simply venturing outside. This proves you don’t have to walk deep into the woods to come in contact with ticks. But how can you stay safe?
Prevention is the best way to avoid the itching and the devastating effects of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan encephalitis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, just to name a few, that can be transmitted by tick bites.
There are many different types of ticks (the blacklegged tick, or deer tick, is notorious for spreading Lyme disease and its co-infections) but the risk of developing these infections depends on several factors, including the type of tick and how long it was attached to the skin.
But you probably don’t want to take any chances. Try these natural and effective ways to keep those nasty parasites away without having to resort to harsh chemicals:
Natural Tick Repellents
1. Try Cedar Oil Spray
Cedar oil is a non-toxic, natural tick and insect repellent. It can be sprayed directly on clothing and skin. It is safe for use on humans and pets. Not only does cedar oil repel ticks and other irritating insects, but it kills them. Cedar oil spray can be purchased online and at most pet stores and big-box retailers.
2. Homemade Tick and Insect Repellent
Try this simple recipe. Just mix and apply to exposed skin before heading outdoors:
- 9 drops citronella essential oil
- 6 drops Tea Tree essential oil
- 6 drops Peppermint essential oils
- 1 tablespoon almond oil or jojoba oil
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is known as an effective tick repeller and killer. Just combine 4 ounces of purified or distilled water to a small spray bottle along with 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Shake before using and spray on skin, pant cuffs, and shoes. Safe for use on dogs (eucalyptus oil must be diluted with the water before application on dogs).
4. Neem Oil
Need oil is used as a natural remedy to repel and remove ticks. To use, add several drops to the palm of your hand and rub on exposed skin. It can also be diluted and mixed with almond or other light carrier oil. When diluted, it’s safe for dogs. To remove a tick, apply a drop or two of neem oil directly on the tick and it will extract itself quickly.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar to the rescue once again! This wonderful natural remedy also helps to repel ticks. The following solution can be sprayed on clothing and exposed skin, even lawn furniture. Combine the following in a spray bottle:
- 2 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of organic neem oil
6. Certain Aromatherapy Essential Oils
Not only smell great, but they are also known to be natural tick repellents. Ticks hate the smell of lemon, orange, cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, and rose geranium so they’ll avoid latching on to anything that smells of those items. Any of these or a combination can be used in DIY sprays or added to almond oil and rubbed on exposed skin. We recommend using 100% certified organic essential oils in any of the above mixtures, which can be found online at PennHerb products.
7. Eat Garlic!
We all know that garlic has excellent health benefits, and now we can add one more to the list. Regular consumption of garlic* or garlic capsules reduce the risk of tick bites. The garlic causes the body to excrete a scent that ticks hate.
- It is not recommended to feed garlic to pets—please talk to your veterinarian.
- Essential oils are not recommended for use on cats. Please consult with your veterinarian about effective flea and tick control for cats.
- Always dilute solutions before applying to your dog. For further reading on essential oils and dogs, check here.
You See A Tick On You… Now What?
If you see a tick crawling on your clothing, or if you have ventured into a known tick-infested area, you should do the following:
- Grab the lint roller (take it with you on outings!). A sticky tape lint roller is excellent for picking ticks of any size off your skin and clothing. Carry one with you and brush it over your skin and clothes (and pet’s fur) periodically.
- Toss your clothing into a hot dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to kill any lurking ticks.
- Do a full-body check on yourself, family members, and pets. Brush your hair and jump in the shower. Rinse pets using the outdoor hose before heading inside.
A Tick That’s Attached to the Skin? Here’s What Should You Do
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease but it still can be unsettling. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s website for more information on removing ticks safely and next steps.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.