9 Surprising Smells that Repel Birds: [PLUS DIY Recipes to Keep Birds Away]

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smells that repel birds

I love to walk out onto my porch and watch the birds. It’s so calming, like a nature show in my backyard! But I know that many people don’t share this sentiment – they can’t even step outside their homes because of all the bird poop or mess that birds leave behind. It doesn’t just look gross; it smells awful, too, especially when it has soaked into wood or concrete for days on end.

Luckily some smells repel birds from any area of your home you desire. We have put together a list smells that are a safe, simple, and humane way to deter birds.

This list of smells are a localized deterrent, so you can keep birds away from your pool or deter birds from your porch but still enjoy them visiting your birdfeeders and birdbaths.

Smells that repel birds

Essential oils, Chili Peppers, Garlic, Cinnamon, and Vinegar are all smells that repel birds. Using smells to keep birds away from areas of your home is safe, simple, effective, and humane. Birds hate strong smells like essential oils because they act like an irritant and make the birds very uncomfortable.

What Smells repel birds

Essential Oils

Essential oils have become quite popular over the past couple of years for medicinal and recreational uses, but they can also help keep birds away.

These scents are overpowering to birds, and they tend to stay clear but have the bonus of smelling pleasant to humans.

One thing to note about using essential oils to repel birds is that they will not work when it’s raining out or too windy. Keep that in mind before you proceed, or you may need another option that will work better.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oils are a common deterrent against insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and ants and works just as well on small mammals and birds. The pungent smell of peppermint is enough to keep birds away from any area of your home.

There are three ways you can use peppermint oil to keep birds away:

1. Make a Peppermint Oil Spray

You can mix some drops of peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle and then spray on surfaces that you want to keep birds away from.

This approach will take some trial and error to get the right mixture before it can be effective. If this does not keep birds away, then up the dosage of peppermint oil in the mix.

Below is an excellent mixture to start with:

Be sure to shake the bottle well before each spray to make sure you are mixing the solution.

2. Use Peppermint Oils on Cotton Balls

You can apply drops of peppermint oil to cotton balls and then place them in the areas you are trying to keep birds away from.

This may require more trial and error to get the right amount, but start with six drops of peppermint oil per cotton ball and adjust from there.

3. Use Peppermint Oil Directly

If using a spray mixture and cotton balls do not work, you can always apply the concentrated form of peppermint oil directly to the areas you see birds congregate the most.

This could be a railing or window sill near your porch that you want to keep free of birds.

Be careful when applying peppermint oil around your dog or cat, as it can be pretty toxic to them and can cause illness.

Citrus Oil

Citrus oil is a great smell that will keep birds away from your home, but the citrus oil must come into direct contact with the bird for it to have any effect on their behavior.

Below is an excellent mixture to start with:

If you fail to find a suitable dilution that works, you can try using store-bought citrus-scented sprays in the spots where birds tend to land and rest.

Lemon Oil

Lemon oil can be a great natural way to keep birds away from certain areas of your home. The citrusy scent is annoying to birds, and they tend to steer clear of the immediate area.

You can dilute some lemon oil and water and spray it on your plants and any part of your home to keep birds away.

Chili Peppers

Chili Pepper Spray can be made by mixing chili peppers, water, and vinegar. To infuse the solution, you can heat it slowly in a slow cooker or place it in a large jar in direct sunlight for a couple of hours before pouring it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution in the areas you want to keep the birds away from.

Getting the mixture right will take some trial and error, but a good mix to start small with is:

  • 4 Cups of Water
  • 1/5 Cup of Vinegar
  • 10 Chili Peppers
  • Slow cook for a couple of hrs
  • Once cooled, pour into a spray bottle.


Vinegar has a harsh, unpleasant scent that can irritate a bird’s sense of smell. It is also a humane way to repel birds from areas around your home.

Cheaper white vinegar is preferred and can be used with or without dilution. If you don’t want to run through your bottle of white vinegar too quickly, you can try a mixture of vinegar and water at first and then tweak for best results.


Cinnamon is something most humans love, and most of us have cinnamon sticks in the spice cabinet right now, but it is one such smell that repels birds rather well. Birds do not enjoy cinnamon’s spicy aromatic scent, as it can irritate most birds.

Cinnamon Oil Recipe for deterring birds:

  • Mix one part of cinnamon oil and three parts of water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray mixture around areas you want to keep birds away from.

Getting the mixture right will take trial and error, but the above recipe is a good starting point.

Citrus Smells

Birds don’t like the smell of citrus and will stay away from it. Some scents, such as citronella, can harm animals, so we recommend a more natural option, orange peels.

Here is a quick way to use orange peels to deter birds:

  • Place some dried orange peels in a pot
  • Boil water and pour it over the peels
  • Allow this to sit for a few hours, then strain out the orange peels

This solution can be used as a spray, or you can boil fresh oranges and let them steep in water.

Garlic Oil

Smells like garlic are known to be effective in keeping animals at bay. One thing to note is that this smell can have an unpleasant odor for humans, so test it out first before you apply it liberally.

Below is an excellent mixture to start with.

  • 15 Drops of Garlic oil
  • 1/2 Cup of Water

Be sure to test the mixture and adjust as necessary.

Bird Gel

If you prefer to purchase a scented product instead of creating a DIY solution to repel birds, then a Scented Bird Gel should work for you.

These birds gels work on a multi-sensory basis, which means they affect the bird’s sense of sight, smell, and touch. The scents used include mint oils, agar, and citronella that create an unpleasant sensation for the birds.

Bird Barrier Optical Gel has proven to be quite effective for certain areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What smells do birds hate?

Birds hate a variety of smells that can be found in your own home. Smells that are are highly aromatic, pungent, spicy, or overpowering can make a bird very uncomfortable. Smells that birds hate include Peppermint Oil, Lemon Oil, Garlic oil, Cinnamon, Citrus, Vinegar, and Chili Pepper.

Will Vinegar Keep birds away?

Yes! Vinegar can be used to keep birds away from areas around your home. You can either use vinegar directly or dilute with water if you want to save money.

Will Bleach Keep Birds Away?

Bleach won’t keep birds away, so don’t waste your time with it. Using a solution of bleach and water is a great way to wash away bird poop and mess from areas of your home, but there are other more effective ways to repel birds.

Does Peppermint Oil Deter Birds?

Yes! Peppermint oil can be used in its concentrated form, as a spray mixture or as drops on cotton balls on areas where birds sit or roost.

What can I spray to keep birds away?

You can use many different DIY spray mixtures to keep birds away. You can use Peppermint Spray, Citrus Spray, Chili Pepper Spray, Lemon Oil Spray, Vinegar Spray, Garlic Oil Spray and Cinnamon Spray to deter birds from certain areas of your home.

So, What Are The Smells that repel birds?

If you must deter birds from some regions of your home, these DIY scents and solutions will do the job. Whether concentrated essential oils, natural solutions such as orange peels, or pre-made bird gels, you have many options for deterring birds.

Test out different mixtures or choose what best fits your needs, but ensure that the smell isn’t too overpowering for humans.

If you have any questions or have used any of these smells to deter birds, let us know! We would love to hear from you and provide more information to our readers.

Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more information about birds and nature. Also, don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family!

Photo of author
I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

9 thoughts on “9 Surprising Smells that Repel Birds: [PLUS DIY Recipes to Keep Birds Away]”

    • Hi Susan,
      If they are pecking at a certain spot then a visual or smell deterrent will work great in that specific area. We have added bird barrier optical gels to the areas around our windows to stop them stealing the mesh from our window screens. If the pecking is everywhere then a large predator decoy or sonic deterrent might be the way to go.

      Take a look at our other post Keeping Birds away from your Porch for some ideas for visual deterrents.

      Do you know what birds are the main culprits? We get Downy and Red-belly Woodpeckers drumming on the side of our house at times during the breeding season, but don’t seem to do any damage, thankfully.

      • Cardinals will not leave my car alone. They keep flying into, pecking, pooping etc; in/on windows, mirrors, roof, windshield, hood ….everywhere. They are also doing this to my kitchen window, basement window, and back porch door. They are getting relentless. What can I do? Pleeeeease help.’

        • Hi Pamela,

          Sorry to hear the Cardinals are pestering you so much. I would try some of the recipes covered in the article and if those don’t work, give Bird Barrier Optical Gels a try for specific areas where they are leaving a terrible mess.

          You can also take a look at another one of our articles that covers some of the visual deterrents.

  1. I had a wounded winged pigeon in my porch and moved in to a nearby hedge, as the pigeon was in the corner just below the door opening and I nearly stepped on it. Firstly got it to move out of the porch and to sit behind a rose bush to the side of the porch. But it must have felt too exposed and kept going back to my my porch, but I felt the pigeon was more likely to be trapped by cats in the porch. After several failed attempts of moving the pigeon out of the porch, as it kept returning when I went back inside. I asked the binman to lift it up with his bin gloves on, and to place it under a side hedge to the right of my property. I felt the pigeon just needed time to recover from the shock of whatever had cause the wing to issue, kept checking on it every hour or so and it finally left early evening.

    The reason I have mentioned the all of the above, is because I think the pigeon has decided my porch is a safe haven. As I have pigeon dropping on my door mat, looks like sitting there to look out. I have just shaken off the dropping from my mat, but I don’t want this to become an issue and want to deter all birds and cats from sitting in my porchway.

    What standard products at home can I use to hopefully stop further dropping in my porch and on my door mat?

    • Hi there,

      Wow what an ordeal! You can try a mixture of white vinegar and water or one of the citrus smells with water highlighted in the post.

      Most folks have white vinegar or oranges at home so that might be the quickest and easiest method. You can spray the vinegar or citrus solution on your door matt once or twice a day for a few days until the birds get the hint that it is not a pleasant place to rest.

      As for keeping them away from your porch, check out one of our other articles that highlights some methods you can try. Keeping Birds Away From Porch

      Hope this helps!

  2. I’ve tried the vinegar water peppermint oil and lemon oil mix as well as sprinkling cinnamon over lawn to stop the sparrows digging in the lawn No luck so far how often should I spray and for how many days

    • Hi Betty,

      We’re unsure how often you need to apply those ingredients or smells to your yard because we have never tried those smells on our lawn before.
      Sparrows and other birds dig up lawns to find food, such as bugs, worms, spiders, etc.
      You would have better luck treating your lawn with bug repellant to minimize the amount of food the birds will look for. We don’t treat our lawn with bug repellant, but our neighbor frequently does, and he rarely has birds visiting his lawn.

  3. I have found that the best bird repellent for birds flying and pecking at our doors and windows which have a tint for the sun it has a mirror effect, is to hang CDs along the deck low down and the wind will move to CDs around casting a rainbow of colours around.
    I have not seen a bird in 3 weeks, after many trials, this is the only thing that works.


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