How Long Does Cedar Wood Repel Bugs? (Indoors & Outdoors)

Cedar wood is known for its bug-repelling properties, and several varieties are commonly used in woodworking projects where this benefit is desired.

Each of these cedar wood types has unique qualities, but they all share the natural ability to repel various insects.

  • Eastern Red Cedar: Renowned for its strong aroma and durability, this type is often used in closets and chests.
  • Eastern White Cedar: Preferred for outdoor projects due to its resistance to decay and insects.
  • Spanish Cedar: Commonly used in humidors and for lining drawers, it has a distinct smell that repels insects.
  • Western Red Cedar: Popular for outdoor construction, it’s naturally resistant to rot and insect damage.
  • Alaskan Yellow Cedar: Known for its strength and weather resistance, it’s also effective against bugs.


Cedar wood typically repels bugs for several months, but its effectiveness varies based on type, size, location, and exposure to elements. Regular maintenance can extend its repellency.

Cedar Wood Applications in Woodworking

Cedar Board

Cedar wood is highly valued in woodworking for both indoor and outdoor projects, not only for its aesthetic appeal and durability.

Closets and Storage Units

Utilizing cedar in the construction of closets, chests, and drawers is an effective way to keep moths at bay. Cedar chips or hangers in these storage spaces can significantly reduce the presence of moths, protecting clothes and linens.

Outdoor Furniture and Structures

Utilizing cedar in outdoor furniture, decks, and garden structures is an excellent way to naturally deter termites and other wood-boring insects. Its resistance to decay and insects makes cedar ideal for outdoor environments.

What Determines How Long Cedar Will Repel Insects?

The effectiveness of cedar wood in repelling insects is influenced by several factors.

Factors Affecting Cedar’s Insect-Repelling Duration

  1. Type of Cedar: Different cedar varieties, like red cedar, have varying levels of effectiveness in repelling bugs.
  2. Size of the Wood: Smaller cedar pieces tend to release their scent more rapidly, which can influence their repellency duration.
  3. Location: Where the cedar is placed affects its effectiveness. Areas with high insect activity may require more frequent replacement.
  4. Weather Conditions: Exposure to elements like rain and sun can diminish the cedar’s natural oils, reducing its repellency over time.
  5. Presence of Other Pests: The type of insects present can also affect how long cedar remains effective.

Maximizing Cedar’s Effectiveness

  • Use Untreated Cedar: Treated wood may contain harmful chemicals and can reduce the natural insect-repelling properties of cedar.
  • Choose the Right Cedar Type: Opt for varieties known for their bug-repelling qualities, such as red cedar.
  • Optimal Sizing: Cut the cedar to appropriate sizes for quicker scent release and better repellency.
  • Strategic Placement: Position cedar in areas prone to bug infestations, like near food storage, pet areas, and entryways.
  • Regular Replacement: Refresh or replace cedar pieces every few months, especially if they are exposed to moisture or show signs of wear.

What Bugs Does Cedar Repel?

Closeup of Cedar Board Stained

Cedar wood is known to repel many types of bugs, including:

  • Termites: Cedar wood is a natural termite repellent. The oils in cedar wood are toxic to termites and can help to prevent them from infesting your home.
  • Ants: Cedar wood can also help to repel ants. The strong scent of cedar wood can deter ants from entering your home or yard.
  • Cockroaches: Cedar wood can also help to repel cockroaches. The oils in cedar wood can irritate the cockroaches and make them less likely to come into contact with it.
  • Moths: Cedar wood is a popular choice for storing clothes and other items that are susceptible to moth damage. The oils in cedar wood can help to repel moths and prevent them from laying eggs in your belongings.
  • Ticks: Cedar wood can also help to repel ticks. The oils in cedar wood can make it difficult for ticks to attach to your skin.
  • Fleas: Cedar wood can also help to repel fleas. The oils in cedar wood can make it difficult for fleas to survive and reproduce.

Common Myths About Cedar’s Insect-Repelling Properties

Cedar is Effective Against All Insects

Reality: While cedar is effective against many types of insects, including moths, termites, and cockroaches, it is not universally effective against all insects. For instance, it has limited effectiveness against mosquitoes.

Cedar’s Effectiveness Lasts Indefinitely

Reality: The insect-repelling properties of cedar come from its natural oils, which diminish over time. The effectiveness of cedar in repelling insects is not permanent and decreases as the oils evaporate or are weathered away.

All Cedar Products Have Equal Repellency

Reality: The insect-repelling potency of cedar varies depending on the type of product and its age. Freshly cut cedar wood has stronger repellent properties compared to older, weathered cedar. Additionally, processed cedar products like shavings or oils may have different levels of effectiveness.

The Stronger the Scent, the Better the Repellency

Reality: The strength of cedar’s scent is not always an accurate indicator of its effectiveness in repelling insects. Even when the scent is not strongly perceptible to humans, cedar can still be effective to a degree.

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