Can Soap Make You More Attractive (Or Repellent) to Mosquitoes?

A recent study by Virginia Tech researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has found that certain soaps could make people more or less attractive to mosquitoes.[0] The study recruited four volunteers who submitted fabric samples that they had worn as a sleeve while either unwashed or after washing with four different brands of soap – Dial, Dove, Native, and Simple Truth.[1] Female mosquitoes, which feed on blood, were observed landing on the fabric samples to give an indication of their preference.[2] Fabric was used rather than exposing the volunteers themselves, to exclude the effects of exhaled carbon dioxide.[3] The researchers identified four chemicals associated with mosquito attraction and three chemicals associated with repulsion. The group mixed these substances to produce and examine odor combinations that are alluring or repulsive, resulting in profound effects on mosquito inclination.

The study found that not all soaps have the same effect on all volunteers, as everyone's body odor is different and can create a unique scent when it interacts with various soaps.[4] The researchers found that the mosquitoes were more likely to be attracted to people who used Dove and Simple Truth, and were most likely to be repelled by Native brand soap.[5] The group additionally pinpointed the probable compounds present in these soaps that appeared to be the primary factors in either luring or deterring the insects.[6] Amongst the candidates, the one that emitted a scent of coconut chemicals seemed to be the most efficient in repelling mosquitoes.

According to Clément Vinauger, who spearheaded the research at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the utilization of flowery and fruity fragrances on our bodies results in the object possessing a dual scent of both a flower and a human.[7] It would feel as if you woke up to the aroma of a blend of coffee and muffins.[8] Very appealing.” Vinauger plans to expand the study to deodorants, laundry detergents, and other scented products.[9]

In the iScience research, four chemicals were discovered to be linked with mosquito attraction while three were found to be connected with repulsion. These include a coconut aroma present in American Bourbon and a floral compound utilized to cure scabies and lice. The researchers then combined these chemicals to create and test attractive and repellent odor blends, which had strong impacts on mosquito preference.[10]

By conducting tests on a larger number of soap varieties and individuals, the team aims to uncover overarching patterns or rules and further develop their findings.[11] Their plan includes investigating the long-term effects of soap on mosquito preference. Vinauger concluded that they are extremely interested in studying the duration of this impact. Specifically, they want to know if taking a shower in the morning has any effect on mosquitoes later in the day.[4]

0. “Are mosquitoes attracted to your scent? Researchers reveal why these insects are drawn to you” KPRC Click2Houston, 11 May. 2023,

1. “Fragrances in soap can make you a more attractive target for mosquitoes” Hindustan Times, 12 May. 2023,

2. “If You're A Mosquito Magnet This Scented Soap Could Help You” IFLScience, 11 May. 2023,

3. “Soap can make humans more attractive to mosquitoes, study finds” The Guardian, 10 May. 2023,

4. “Scientists make major discovery in war against mosquitos – and it could be the key to a bite-free holiday…” The Sun, 10 May. 2023,

5. “This body wash may lower your odds of being bitten by a mosquito — and it's at Amazon” Yahoo Life, 12 May. 2023,

6. “Mosquitoes Have Mixed Feelings About Soap, Study Finds” Gizmodo, 10 May. 2023,

7. “Soap could be the reason some people are bitten by mosquitoes more than others” The Mirror, 11 May. 2023,

8. “You may be attracting mosquitoes by using soap: study” Geo News, 11 May. 2023,

9. “Soaps could make people more or less attractive to mosquitoes: Study” DTNEXT, 12 May. 2023,

10. “Washing with different soaps could make you more or less attractive to mosquitoes” EurekAlert, 10 May. 2023,

11. “Certain Brands of Soap May Have Mosquito-Repelling Scents” Technology Networks, 10 May. 2023,

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