Housewives go DIY in attack on insects

August 1st, 2012 by Felicity Hughes

Lemongrass essential oil is used in homemade insect repellent

One of the major irritations of a Japanese summer, besides the current humid heat, is getting eaten alive by the tiny armies of mosquitoes, indoors or out. While most people resort to spraying on DEET, a growing number of mothers concerned about the effects of this potent chemical on their children’s delicate skin are now making their own aroma mushiyoke (aroma insect repellent) out of essential oils.

The trend, according to Tokyo Walker, has been spreading by word of mouth among mothers who are looking for natural alternatives. The magazine interviewed a housewife who began making her own insect repellent after becoming a mother two years ago. She favors a refreshing lemongrass spray that can be not only applied to the skin, but also sprayed onto cloth in her baby stroller to keep insects at bay.

Aromatherapy has been popular for a few years in Japan, so the essential oils used to make these sprays are readily available in the shops. To make a lemongrass spray you need extract of lemongrass oil, ethanol and water. Three to five drops of the essential oil should be mixed with 5 ml of ethanol and 45 ml of water. The whole thing is then shaken vigorously and put into a plastic spray bottle (easily bought in ¥100 stores). Unlike commercial citric sprays, the lemongrass is not overwhelmingly pungent, so the mixture can be sprayed on screen doors or curtains to keep out insects without overwhelming the room with the smell. Geranium and lavender essential oils can also be used for a similar effect.

In addition to being kind to the skin, these sprays also give off a pleasant scent. According to Get News, aromatic candles that repel insects are also trending. Especially popular are citronella candles that keep insects out with a natural refreshing citric scent that doesn’t carry any chemical taint.

The mosquito coil is a Japanese invention that has been a staple of outdoor gatherings for over 100 years. However, there are health concerns connected with inhaling the pungent smoke they give off, so scented candles could be an attractive alternative. Given the prevalence of the LOHAS mindset among eco-conscious housewives, it’s no wonder that natural insect repellents are being embraced.

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons

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