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VERIFY: No, you shouldn't use Listerine as a mosquito repellent

No, you cannot use Listerine in place of bug spray. According to Doctor Karla Robinson, it does repel mosquitos. However, it does not have lasting effects.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A social media post making the rounds claims you can use Listerine mouthwash as a repellant for mosquitoes

A WCNC Charlotte viewer emailed the VERIFY team and asked if the social media post is true. We reached out to a Charlotte-based doctor to clarify these claims. 

THE QUESTION 

Can Listerine mouthwash be used in place of bug spray to repel mosquitoes?

SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No, you cannot use Listerine in the place of a bug spray. According to Dr. Karlan Robinson, it does repel mosquitoes, but those effects don't last very long. 

Robinson told the VERIFY team that it hasn't been studied as a topical treatment and recommends using regular or organic bug spray to keep those pesky insects away while outdoors.

WHAT WE FOUND

According to Robinson, the ingredients Eucalyptol and Menthol are key components to help repel mosquitos. On a bottle of Listerine, those ingredients include .09% of Eucalyptol and .04% of Menthol. 

"The ingredient itself is effective, but the amounts in Listerine aren't as high as you would see in a typical insect repellent that does, in fact, have long-lasting effectiveness," said Robinson. 

RELATED: Tips on how to avoid mosquito bites

According to data from the CDC, products with these ingredients provide reasonably long-lasting protection. However, the agency states products with less than 10% on the label may offer limited protection. 

"Listerine is mostly alcohol and water and evaporates fairly quickly when on the skin, so the effectiveness of this being a true repellant isn't as long-standing as you would think the other traditional insect repellents could be," said Robinson.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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