Sprinkle cinnamon in the sandbox to keep the bugs away

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Jennifer found a sweet-smelling way to keep the sandbox bugs away:

My son loves playing in the sandbox, but tons of little bugs get in the sand. I keep a cover on it when he’s not using it, but critters still get in.

I wanted to get rid of them, but didn’t want to use an insecticide for obvious reasons. I had heard that cinnamon works as a bug repellent, so I bought a big container of cinnamon at Costco and sprinkled the whole thing all over the sand. The next day — hardly a little bug in sight, whereas the day before they were EVERYWHERE.

This is the SECOND time I’ve done this and had success (we refreshed his sand not too long ago, and without the cinnamon in the fresh sand the bugs were back. Add cinnamon – next day, no more bugs.) And the bonus: he comes out of the sandbox smelling like a cinnamon bun!

I’m wondering if mixing the cinnamon into the sand makes sense — I imagine cinnamon oil could irritate a kid’s eyes and nose.

Related: Talk amongst yourselves: Bugs in the sandbox

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  1. says

    Cinnamon also keeps ants away! Sprinkle it in your house wherever ants are coming in and they will be gone. I just learned this from my mom — I couldn’t believe it!

  2. Annette says

    Does anyone know if this works on spiders? We have about 14 different species of spiders taking up residence at our house right now.

  3. t says

    Ground ginger is also a natural insect repellent. I would imagine most strongly scented spices (cloves, allspice) would ward off the 6-legged critters. But avoid sweet scents which would attract bees.

  4. says

    yeah, I mix it in. So it’s not like it’s layered on top, or just piled up on the top of the sand – and it still works. We still find the occasional bug (and yes spider too) but this really does seem to keep out most of them. My son is (obviously) not allergic to cinnamon, or highly sensitive in general, so it’s not a good test – but he’s not bothered by the smell or any oils (I don’t think there’s enough cinnamon in there to do that) but also, when I get in there and play with him, I’m also not bothered by any oils, smells, etc. One note- we actually have the sandbox pictured in the post – so it’s a pretty decent sized box. If you have a smaller box – you probably don’t need a costco sized jar of cinnamon. :)

  5. Kaylee says

    I have heard that spearmint & peppermint repel spiders. I knew a housekeeper who said putting sticks of minty gum in closets, etc. works wonders. She said the natural oils work very well too, but not to get them on your skin because they’re so strong and can burn.

  6. Erin says

    Definitely test your kids for sensitivity before doing this, and let other parents know before you allow their kids in the sand. My son is incredibly sensitive to cinnamon if it touches his skin (weird, since otherwise he has no allergies or sensitivities we know of); something as a simple as a bit of filling from a cinnamon bun will leave his skin looking burned and red for hours.

  7. says

    I have never heard of this before. What a great tip, we have two sandboxes on the propery and would love to control those little critters. Thanks

  8. Sandy says

    Did you try Johnsons’ Baby Powder with talc? This repels ants as they hate the talc. I’d think this would have considerably less allergic reactions if cinnamon is of concern.

  9. Darryl Papa-sensei says

    It makes the sand taste much better too.

    But it’s still really gritty, so, y’know, there’s that.