How To Get Rid of Gnats While Camping

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Camping seems like a great idea until gnats strike. They’re suddenly in your eyes and mouth, and your much-needed break starts going downhill. Fortunately, you don’t have to cut your camping trip short because of gnats.

Here’s how to get rid of gnats while camping:

  1. Use a vinegar and soap solution.
  2. Use commercial repellents. 
  3. Start a campfire.
  4. Add sage to your campfire.
  5. Ensure your tent is closed.
  6. Use essential oils that repel gnats.
  7. Wear protective glasses.
  8. Mix red wine and soap solution.
  9. Use traditional bug sprays. 
  10. Disposable gnat traps.
  11. Light citronella candles
  12. Use vanilla repellent.

Your camping experience will be more enjoyable if you can control the presence of gnats. This article will give you multiple tips on how to get rid of gnats. 

1. Use a Vinegar and Soap Solution

Gnats have a strong sense of smell, which is why they tend to hover around you. They’re most likely drawn towards your perfume, soap, and other scents. When you use a vinegar and soal solution, the vinegar will draw the gnat away from you. The soap will create a sticky solution that will trap the gnats.

You can use any soap and vinegar for this solution. Place the bowl away from you so that gnats can be attracted to the scent away from you. 

The video below shows how effective the vinegar and soap solution is on gnats:

2. Use Commercial Repellents

Commercial repellents are handy for all bugs and insects, so they’ll work for gnats as well. Whether you prefer the spray or cream, use it whenever you’re outside to ensure the gnats don’t ruin your camping experience. 

You can use commercial repellents in two main ways.

  • General use repellents: You can use these repellents on your clothes and directly on your skin. Some of the active ingredients include deet, ethyl hexanediol, dimethyl phthalate, among others. 
  • Apply on your clothes: These repellents may not be safe for use on the skin. It’s a great option for people who have allergic reactions to some of the components in the repellents.

The effectiveness of commercial repellents varies from one product to another. Some are more effective on certain insects and barely work on others. Check the details on the repellent to confirm how it works. 

You can also check reviews of the repellent you have in mind. Confirm that it works on gnats before going on the camping trip.

Natural Insect, Gnat and Mosquito Repellent & Deterrent

Natural Bug Soother repels gnats, no-see-ums, sand fleas, black flies, and some mosquitoes. May require more frequent application and may need to be rubbed in. 

If you make a purchase, you support by allowing us to earn an affiliate commission (no added cost for you).

This Bug Soother Gnat Repellent (available on has vanilla and lemongrass scents that repel gnats. This repellent also works on mosquitoes and other insects and is safe for kids, adults, and pets

3. Start a Campfire

When you start a campfire, especially at night, you will draw gnats towards the flame and away from you. However, the heat will be too much for the gnats. They’ll go as far away from the fire as possible, giving you the space you need to enjoy yourself. Now you can enjoy your evenings without worrying about the pesky gnats.  

4. Add Sage to the Campfire

Sage has a strong smell. When added to the fire, the smell will repel gnats. Fortunately, the scent has the opposite impact on humans. It has a calming effect and may even help you forget the gnat problem, at least while you enjoy the warmth from the fire. 

You can either use dried sage, or sage essential oil, as both will be effective.

5. Ensure Your Tent Is Closed

Gnats are a problem in many campsites, but they can be a greater nuisance when they find their way into your tent. Always ensure your tent is sealed every time you go in or out of the tent because getting rid of them will be harder when they enter your tent. 

And, if your tent has screens on the windows, make sure that the screen zippers are closed tightly.

6. Use Essential Oils That Repel Gnats

Some of the scents that repel gnats include lavender, vanilla, peppermint, lemon, and eucalyptus. When you use these essential oils, you will drive the gnats away. You can comfortably move around the campsite, without worrying about the gnats. 

Cliganic USDA Organic Aromatherapy Essential Oils
  • USDA Certified Organic - the strict oversight of USDA ensures the integrity of our Aromatherapy Essential Oils. In other words, it’s really 100% organic.
If you make a purchase, you support by allowing us to earn an affiliate commission (no added cost for you).

This set of Cliganic Essential Oils (available on contains some of the essential oils that repel gnats. They include peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, and eucalyptus. 

7. Wear Protective Glasses

If the gnats are making it impossible to move around the campsite, especially since they keep getting into your eyes, wear protective glasses. The gnats might hover around, but at least your eyes will be safe. You might try getting a pair of safety glasses that are usually worn around construction sites or in factories, as they wrap around your head better.

8. Mix Red Wine and Soap Solution

Just like vinegar, gnats are attracted to the scent of red wine. Pour some red wine into a bowl and add some dish soap. The scent will attract the gnats, and when they land on it, the soap in the solution will trap them.

This is similar to the vinegar and soap solution mentioned above. But, the wine is a bit sweeter and might attract more gnats than vinegar.

9. Use Traditional Bug Sprays

Traditional bug sprays can also work on gnats. Have a can at hand so that you can spray the gnats, especially in the area close to your tents. Ensure your food and drinks are covered before using the bug spray, or you will end up with bug spray-flavored food and drinks. That’s not a pleasant flavor, even if you are camping.

Related article: Does Bug Spray Repel Spiders?

10. Disposable Gnat Traps

When creating your list of things you need to buy for your camping trip, include gnat traps. These traps have attractants that get activated when you add water into the trap. The scent of the attractants will attract the gnats into the trap. 

This trap is designed to allow the gnats in, but they cannot get out. They’ll then drown in the water. 

11. Light Citronella Candles

Repel Insect Repellent Citronella Candle, Triple Wick, 20-Ounce

Repels mosquitoes and other flying insects in outdoor areas.

A 20-ounce candle provides up to 40 hours of protection.

If you make a purchase, you support by allowing us to earn an affiliate commission (no added cost for you).

The light and scent are the two things that’ll attract gnats to the citronella candles. Place the candle in different areas, and as long as the candles keep burning, the gnats will not bother you. However, citronella candles don’t always work the best, due to other factors, such as bodies of water or food sources near your campsite.

12. Use Vanilla Repellent

If the chemicals in commercial repellents irritate your skin, you can make your repellent using vanilla essence and water. When buying vanilla essence, ensure it’s sugar-free. Gnats despise the smell of vanilla, yet you may not find it repulsive. 

Here’s how you make a homemade vanilla repellent:

  1. Mix one the vanilla essence and water.
  2. Use a cotton ball to apply the solution to your exposed skin.
  3. Test a small area first. High concentrations of vanilla can irritate the skin. If you don’t feel a burning sensation, keep applying the solution. 

Unfortunately, homemade repellents don’t last as long as commercial repellents, and the effectiveness of the vanilla repellent will diminish over time. 

You can tell the repellent’s effectiveness is fading when gnats start coming too close to you. So, if you’re outside for long, have the solution with you so that you can keep reapplying as the need arises. 


Gnats can make your camping trip uncomfortable. Fortunately, these tips will help you control the presence of gnats in your surroundings. When choosing where to set up camp, avoid areas closest to stagnant water, as this is the ideal breeding ground for gnats.

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