This viral mosquito-repelling hack uses something inexpensive we all have in our kitchens – and experts say it really works

Mosquito spray might smell pretty bad, but this hack will actually give your home and backyard a brilliant scent

a kitchen open onto a backyard
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle. Design: Yoko Kloeden Design)

Mosquitos are the villain of summer. Countless summer nights are dominated by their high-pitched squeal and the fear of waking up tomorrow with yet another bite. We reluctantly dowse ourselves in toxic mosquito repellent that leaves skin feeling sticky and covered in an eye-watering smell that refuses to dissipate. Despite its potency to humans, it seems unreliable when it comes to repelling mosquitos.

Recently an alternative, natural repellent has gone viral for its encouraging results and non-toxic by-products. Burning coffee is the newest hack for repelling mosquitos, and it appears to have encouraging results. At this point, we will try anything if it means reducing the number of bites we suffer in our backyards

Explore the coffee hack and hear what pest control experts have to say about its efficiency. As one of the easiest and cheapest mosquito repellent solutions, probably with items you already own, we think it's worth a shot.

 What is the coffee hack? 

Now before you go handing out cappuccino to mosquitos, there is a little more you need to know. But not much more. ‘The viral coffee mosquito repellent hack involves burning coffee grounds to repel mosquitoes and wasps,’ says Nicole Carpenter, CEO of Blackpest Pest Control. ‘It is claimed that the smoke released by burning coffee grounds is effective at keeping these insects away.’ 

Sounds too good to be true right? Well if the viral attention it is gaining is anything to go by, it actually works!


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How can coffee repel mosquitos?

You might be wondering why mosquitos hate to hear the words “wake up and smell the coffee”, turns out they are extremely sensitive to smell. ‘Coffee grounds are both extremely concentrated and potent. So much so that they can ward off mosquitoes from your living and entertainment areas.’ says David Blue, co-founder of Mozzie Dome Pest Control. 

Mosquitos rely on their sense of smell food locating areas to breed and where to feed (that's us). ‘Burning coffee grounds disrupts this very ability by overloading their sensory receptors,’ says David. ‘They find humans by smelling the carbon dioxide we exhale, our sweat glands, and natural body odor and the intense smell of coffee makes  the mosquitoes disoriented, leaving them unable to find their target.’

Although there is limited scientific evidence behind why mosquitos are put off by the smell of coffee, it appears that the strong aroma has practical evidence. Some experts are reluctant to promote it as a means of repelling the pests, however, others are positive about the hack as an accessible solution to the problem. In spite of its folklore heritage. ‘Coffee grounds actually work better than any other DIY mosquito repellent because of the sheer volume and concentration of scent they release when burned,’ says David.

 How can I do it at home? 

It is as simple as burning coffee. But, before you crack open your finest single origin double roasted beans from Guatemala, know that any coffee works. Mosquitos are repulsed by all coffee so use the cheapest you can find. 

Ensure your grounds are completely dry to ensure they light effectively. Spread them out a little on a heat-proof surface or container such as one of those aluminum foil dishes you have left over from Thanksgiving. Next, add a few dashes of lighter fluid, make sure not to use too much as it will burn too fast. Remember you are trying to extend keep the burn for as long as possible, as this will extend your mosquito protection. Then simply allow the coffee to burn for as long as you are outside. Alternatively, you can place a candle wick in a glass of coffee, as in the Tiktok video. You may even learn to enjoy the sweet aroma of slowly roasting coffee.

Alternatives ways repel mosquitos

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.