How To Keep Bugs Out of a Pool Using Peppermint Oil

by Derrick | Last Updated: March 21, 2022

Bugs in the pool can be a repulsive annoyance. Many insects are naturally drawn to pools as they seek water for food or hydration. The chemical properties of pool water will often poison or disable the insect, causing it to drown and clutter up your pool filter. 

  1. Make your own peppermint oil bug spray.
  2. Burn peppermint oil infused candles.
  3. Treat curtains, windscreens, and furniture with the oil.
  4. Expert Advice: NEVER add essential oils to your pool water.

The strong odor of peppermint is thought to drive away insects, which is a huge benefit if you’re trying to keep bugs away from your pool. Keep reading to learn how to make DIY bug spray using peppermint oil, as well as some scholarly information on whether it will work. Also included are a few pointers on how to keep the area around your pool equally free of bugs. 

1. Make Your Own Peppermint Oil Bug Spray

If you’ve decided to try using peppermint essential oil as a natural bug repellent, the first step is to concoct the solution. Peppermint oil bug spray is simple to make, according to LorAnn Oils. The mixture contains essential oils diluted into warm water, which allows the scent of peppermint to permeate the pool area. 

If you’re not comfortable using chemical bug repellant, some essential oils can be effective for short periods of time. Here is the recipe for an all-natural bug spray using only natural ingredients to protect your pool from mosquitos without exposing your body or lungs to pesticide chemicals. 

  • 2 cups (473 mL) of warm water 
  • 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil 

Simply mix these ingredients together in a spray bottle, shaking thoroughly before use. When the solution is adequately mixed, apply it to critical areas around the pool and deck. Spray the solution around the perimeter of the pool, as well as around any access points if the pool is indoors. Allow time for the scent to permeate the pool area, which is thought to repel insects.

Essential Oil Bug Spray Must Be Constantly Reapplied

According to a clinical trial from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, most essential oils are only effective as a mild bug repellent for a brief period. While this is true of all bug sprays, the effective longevity of essential oil bug repellants is significantly shorter than DEET or other traditional bug sprays. 

If you’re using peppermint oil to make bug spray, you will need to reapply the solution to the critical areas at least once every half hour in order for the odor to remain strong enough to effectively repel insects. Given the small quantities and high prices of essential oil, this method of insect control becomes expensive quickly. 

2. Burn Peppermint Oil Infused Candles

Smoke is well known for being a natural insect repellent, which is why fire can be used as an organic insecticide. “Smoking out” the pool area to get rid of mosquitos or other pests, however, can make the area unenjoyable for swimmers. 

Bug repellent candles, such as Off! ­brand candles (available on Amazon.com), can be helpful in keeping bugs away from your pool and deck. The smell put off by these candles, like most bug repellants, may not be as pleasant as peppermint oil bug repellant, but they’re usually inexpensive and easy to use. In the case of the Off! brand candles, you can get four for one low price. 

To avoid creating an unpleasantly smokey environment, you can use peppermint oil scented candles to achieve the same goal. Peppermint oil candles may not have the same effectiveness as insect repellent candles, but it can still be helpful. 

Purchase a candle like the Stillwater Bath and Body Scented Candle, available from Amazon.com. It’s non-toxic, made of 100% essential oils, and is long-lasting. You could also make your own using bee’s wax and peppermint essential oils.  

3. Treat Curtains, Windscreens, and Furniture with the Oil

Whether you’re using a peppermint essential oil and water solution or traditional DEET bug spray, the key to keeping insects out of your pool water is to spray around the pool. This will allow the repellant to permeate the air around the pool and deck area. 

Whenever you’re using an essential oil, Family Handyman reminds you to be sure to test a small amount against the material first to ensure it will not be damaged by the solution. 

Spray Peppermint on Patio Curtains or Cover

If your pool or deck area is surrounded by sun shades or curtains, treating these with the peppermint or clove oil solution can help the scent to effectively spread out. Keeping curtains and shades around the pool closed can also help to reduce the number of insects buzzing around the edges of the pool. 

4. Expert Advice: Never Add Essential Oils to Your Pool Water

If you’re using peppermint essential oil to get rid of bugs around the house, you may be tempted to add some to the pool water in order to keep the insects out. While this may seem like the logical solution, pouring essential oils into your pool water can cause serious damage to the filter and pumps. 

If you add essential oils to the pool, the oily water will be filtered through the pool’s pumps and cleaning systems. The oil will build up in the mechanisms of the pump and filters over time, which can cause them to stop functioning, according to Narellan Pools

Scientific Skepticism Around the Effectiveness of Essential Oil-Based Bug Repellants

While there are many who swear by peppermint essential oil as a natural bug repellent, there are others who say that it’s simply not effective. 

The New York Times’ online column Wirecutter went as far as to say that using essential oils as an alternative to bug spray creates a sense of false security, leaving individuals more vulnerable to insect bites than if they used no form of bug repellent at all. 

Repellants work essentially by blocking insect receptors, making it difficult for mosquitos or ticks to find their human targets. Essential oils can do this, but they don’t block as many receptors as traditional bug sprays. 

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, essential oils are only effective bug repellents for roughly 20 minutes, with most failing to repel insects even sooner. 

The New York Times cited their sources for this statement as Laurence Zwiebel, Ph.D., and Leslie Vosshall, Ph.D., both of whom are authorities on the subjects of biology, pharmacology, and neurobiology. 

Final Thoughts

The strong peppermint odor of essential oil-based cleaning solutions can repel insects for a brief time. If you’re willing to reapply every 20 minutes or so, then peppermint oil can be a natural alternative to bug repellant. 

In order to keep bugs out of your pool, spray the area around the pool and deck with a solution of oil and water. Candles scented with essential oils also may be helpful in reducing the number of bugs in and around your swimming pool.

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