Can I use neem oil as an insect repellent? Isn't neem repellent toxic?
"Can I use neem oil as an insect repellent?" someone asked on a gardening forum. I stumbled across the thread the other day.
The answer chosen as the best answer was:
"No! Neem oil is an insectiCIDE. It kills insects. You wouldn't want to put chemicals like that on your skin!"
Utter nonsense, of course!
So, before I tell you more about neem repellent, let's debunk the nonsense.
Neem oil is not a chemical, it is a natural oil, pressed from the seeds of the neem tree.
Neem oil does get used like an insecticide and it does protect your garden from insects, but not by indiscriminately killing things on contact like most synthetic and even some natural insecticides do.
It takes more than a few lines to explain how neem controls harmful insects and I already wrote about it elsewhere. So if you don't know how neem oil works you may want to read this first: Neem oil as an insecticide.
Back already? Great.
As you now know, one of the ways neem oil protects your plants is by making them unpalatable to insects. Yes, neem oil is an insect repellent!
Now what about putting it on your skin? As it so happens, I also have a whole section on this website that talks about how beneficial neem oil is for your skin. Neem is one of the best natural skin care ingredients I know of.
Again, I won't go into more detail on this page, but you can read more here: Using neem oil for skin care and skin problems.
So, we know neem oil does repel insects in the garden and we know neem oil is good for your skin. Of course you can use neem insect repellant on yourself!
Now let's look at how good it is as a personal natural insect repellent and how to use neem oil as an insect repellent.
Natural insect repellents - how good are they really?
DEET is the chemical used in most personal insect repellent products. Supposedly it is safe if used according to the instructions. Is it really? And how do natural insect repellents measure up to it? (Coming.)
Make your own natural bug repellent: neem oil insect repellent
(Recipes and instructions coming soon.)
More about specific uses for neem repellents: