​​Why You Should Reconsider This Hack For Banishing Bugs From Your Campsite

Nothing can ruin an evening camping more quickly than being swarmed by bugs whether that's gnats, flies, mosquitoes, or — the worst of all — ticks. Unfortunately, even when you do everything in your power to avoid a buggy campsite, like not pitching your tent near water or tall grass, you could still end up with a battalion of bloodsuckers trying to ruin your good time. While CDC-approved insect repellents like DEET, picaridin, and OLE are your best bet to reliably repel insects, many people today are turning to more natural options. The only problem with homemade and natural insect repellents is that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Because of this, it is important to double-check the research to make sure something works before relying on it in the wild.


For example, one DIY insect repellent that is sometimes recommended online and most likely doesn't work is whiskey. In fact, studies have shown that drinking whiskey (or any type of alcohol) makes you more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. Furthermore, even if you don't drink the whiskey and instead apply it to your skin like a topical repellent, whiskey probably won't do you any favors as the smell of alcohol has been proven to attract insects like black flies. However, if whiskey doesn't repel insects why do so many people believe it does?

Where the whiskey hack likely came from and what works instead

Although whiskey may not be an effective insect repellent, that doesn't mean that alcohol in general doesn't work to keep insects away — it's just that the type of alcohol that works isn't the drinkable kind. Instead, some sources claim that rubbing alcohol (which contains anywhere from 70% to 99% alcohol) may help repel insects, especially if it contains 90% or more alcohol. Whiskey on the other hand (which contains added sugar and around 40% to 50% alcohol) isn't strong enough to do the trick. 


However, before you go ahead and apply rubbing alcohol to your body, it is important to know that while anecdotally effective this method is not typically recommended by experts because it can cause skin or eye irritation, especially when combined with other ingredients like essential oils. Instead, it is likely better for your skin and your camping experience to go with store-bought repellents. But, if you are looking for some household items that may actually keep the bugs away from your campsite, you can try bowls of vinegar or burning coffee grounds.