We all love garlic for its unique flavour and ability to transform everything it's paired with - after all, what would garlic bread, pesto or spaghetti bolognese be without this key ingredient?! Garlic's legendary health attributes as a powerful antioxidant and mineral-rich food are also well documented. But its sulphurous compounds have another, less obvious but just as useful benefit: they can act as a natural repellent for many common insects. By harnessing this helpful side-effect, we can use garlic not only as an ingredient in our kitchens, but also in our medicine cabinets and gardening sheds. Here's how to use garlic to make a homemade non-toxic pesticide and natural mosquito repellent:

Garlic Gardening Spray

Use this simple garlic repellent to deter garden pests like aphids and slugs. It can also help eliminate powdery mildew on foliage.

  1. Peel the cloves from a whole head of garlic and put in a food processor or blender with 235 ml of water. Purée the mixture (this takes about a minute in a regular food processor). Alternatively, chop or crush the cloves as finely as you can by hand and mix well with the water.
  2. Add a further 700 ml of water to the mix, along with 30 ml of any liquid soap. Blend again and then transfer to a clean jar.
  3. Leave the mixture to steep overnight, or for at least 12 hours, so that the garlic can infuse the liquid with its potent sulphur compounds.
  4. Once the mixture has had time to steep, strain it through a muslin cloth or fine mesh strainer to remove the solid garlic pieces (which would otherwise clog the nozzle on your spray bottle).
  5. Pour the garlic-infused liquid into a reusable spray bottle and store in the fridge between uses.
  6. Spritz plants in the evening, holding the spray about 15-30 cm away from the foliage, and cover both sides of the leaves with an even coating of the garlic pesticide spray. Reapply every few days (and after any rainfall) when your plants are suffering with an infestation, or once a week as a deterrent.

Garlic Mosquito Repellent

Garlic may have a historical reputation for warding off vampires but it's also effective against rather smaller blood-sucking creatures.

  1. Add two-three crushed fresh garlic cloves to a food grade oil such as sunflower oil, and leave to infuse for 24 hours.
  2. The following day, add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the mixture, along with 500 ml water.
  3. Strain the garlic, lemon and oil mixture through some muslin cloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove the pieces of garlic.
  4. Transfer to a spray bottle and apply this all-natural repellent as needed to keep mosquitoes away.

A little eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil added to the sunflower oil (in a ratio of 1:10) will make this garlic spray even more effective against unwanted bugs.