Baby Powder Bug Repellent

Years ago I was an estate gardener on the Texas Gulf Coast, in Houston Texas to be exact. I worked on a property that was near a slow-moving, mosquito-generating body of water called Buffalo Bayou. Houston is not called “the Bayou City” for nothing, there are bayous everywhere and when it rains, the bayous flood and trap people in their neighborhoods until everything drains away. As a result of all this water, Houston, like Alaska, is inundated with mosquitoes and gnats, and we drive around with bug spray in our vehicles.

Along with mosquitoes, there is also the heat and humidity. Your sweat does not easily evaporate in Houston because the humidity is so high. How Houston got to be the 4th largest city in the nation is beyond me. Why anyone would want to live there for any length of time is baffling to me. It can even be hot in the winter. Austin, now, is a different story…but I digress.

So here I am, working in this sweltering heat with all the bugs, outside in all this for about 10 hours a day, and I start getting a heat rash under “the girls” because, okay, they are substantial and the sweat is pervasive. The maintenance guy, who is a good friend and easy to talk to, suggests I start using baby powder, which he uses daily for “his boys” and his feet.

I went to Target that day after work to buy some baby powder, but I’m female, so I wanted something nicer smelling than regular baby powder, but I didn’t want anything too nice or I’d be attracting mosquitoes, and I was frankly starting to worry about how much DEET I was spraying all over myself on a daily basis. I had even gotten to the point that I wouldn’t use bug spray until I was getting bitten…and that fact is significant to my tale.

I bought the Johnson and Johnson Calming Baby Powder, liking the scent so much that I also bought the bath stuff and the baby lotion. (Look for the lavender colored bottles or lids. Apologies for the horrible photo!). I remembered reading somewhere that Lavender was a pretty effective insect repellent, so I thought it’s qualities might just transfer to the baby powder enough that the scent would not be an attractant. I had no idea it would do any more than that.

To make a long story short…I realized, many months later, that, holy crap-on-toast! it had been TWO YEARS since I had used bug spray, and the only difference was the use of the Johnson’s Lavender-based baby products. The other outside staff was still using bug spray religiously, but I hadn’t applied it in TWO YEARS. Eureka!

I discovered  several other things over subsequent thexperimentation:


1. Only the Johnson and Johnson stuff works.  I tried other brands and they were not nearly as effective.
2. It has to be applied daily.  This was not a problem in Houston, as I came home nasty and sweaty
everyday, and lived for that shower. I applied the baby powder in the morning before work, and used the baby wash in the shower and the lotion after showering after work.
3. It works in Alaska.
I was just talking to my neighbor in his garden last night and the gnats  were all over him, but I was barely being touched.

I hope this works the same for all of you if you give it a try. The other baby products might be better for children, since there is talc in the baby powder. We have used the baby oil, the baby lotion and the baby wash on my nieces and nephews (the nephews were totally embarrassed!) and it worked on them almost as well as the baby powder did. I think the baby powder worked the best and the longest because I wasn’t sweating it away like I was the other products…an important consideration in Houston, TX.

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