Mosquitoes avoid people who smell like coconut. In May, a small study found that people who used a coconut-scented soap were bitten less than the control volunteer. They found that my usual choice, Dove, attracted mosquitos, as did Dial and Simple Truth Organic Honey Blossom.

The press picked up the story, so like no doubt millions of other people, I tried to buy the Native Coconut and Vanilla body wash used in the study. I mistakenly ordered the charcoal variety by mistake. (Charcoal soap? Whaaat?)

But I did score the Native coconut deodorant. I then dashed to the Whole Foods for Tom’s of Maine coconut bar soap and Alaffia Everyday Coconut Shampoo with lime.

The mosquitoes noticed! Or rather, they didn’t notice! I was able to waft through the garden smelling like I was at a Hawaiian resort without a bite. When I want to work in the garden, I dab a little of the coconut deodorant on the mosquitoes’ favorite spots: wrists, back of neck, back belt line, and ankles. When I invited friends over, they would wave away the occasional mosquito, especially when we went down to the low, damp part of the garden. I remained invisible to the biters.

After three weeks, I can say that all the products work well for their main purposes too. I like that:

  • The deodorant comes in a cardboard tube instead of a plastic one
  • The deodorant is small and light enough to carry with you to someone else’s garden or an outdoor event
  • The bar soap comes wrapped in paper instead of in a big bottle like the Native body wash in the study
  • The shampoo and other Alaffia products support African empowerment projects alleviating poverty and encouraging gender equality

Using coconut body products to repel mosquitoes is sooo much better than using DEET or other herbal repellants I’ve tried, which smell pretty repellant to me too.

See the other steps I’m taking to reduce mosquitoes in my garden.