DIY Natural Mosquito and Insect Repellent Spray With Essential Oils
DIY Essential Oil Bug Repellent
Every summer, we enjoy hiking and camping. Unfortunately, mosquitoes, ticks, and other pests like to tag along. I began looking for a way to repel these unwanted guests in a way that would be natural and not harmful. I have very sensitive skin and mild asthma that don't allow me to use commercial products.
Is There a Natural Alternative to DEET and Other Chemicals?
Yes, and the answer can be found in essential oils. They can be a bit pricey, but a little bit of oil goes a very long way. Most essential oils have a wide array of uses, from aromatherapy to hair or skin care. Homemade products save money, are healthier for the body, and prevent the release of environment-killing chemicals commonly found in commercial bug sprays. Learn how to put your own repellent together below.
What Essential Oils Repel Bugs?
The following essential oils are great for repelling bugs. Some smell better than others, as any of you who have used a citronella product probably know. I find citronella most unpleasant, but there are other oils that can be combined with it to make it more tolerable.
Essential Oils to Use in DIY Insect Sprays:
- Lemongrass: This oil has a lovely, citrus scent and repels fleas, ticks, and lice. It is often used in soaps and perfumes for its appealing fragrance.
- Orange Oil: This oil is a natural deterrent to fleas and ticks. It has a wonderfully subtle scent that does not last long. It is a nice complement to the other oils listed here, and it can be used in many other household products and natural cleaners as well.
- Eucalyptus: This is strong-smelling oil that you may be familiar with if you’ve ever sucked on a menthol cough drop or rubbed a product like “Vick's” on your chest. Eucalyptus is not only an effective insect repellant, but it also can be used to treat minor skin irritations like bug bites when mixed with a proper carrier oil. Never apply any essential oil directly to your skin.
- Lavender: This pleasant-smelling oil is used in many products because it induces relaxation and is calming to mind and body alike. It's a natural insect repellent and good for the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, from mild irritation due to bug bites, to severe skin conditions like eczema and sunburn.
- Clove: Clove is more known for its culinary uses. However, it makes a good natural mosquito repellent and has a strong, spicy scent that many find appealing. It can be mixed with citronella and tends to overpower it. Clove oil can be irritating and should never be taken internally—it can cause stomach upset. Only use clove on the skin if you know your pet or child won't get it in their mouths. It should be used very sparingly on the skin, as it is a known irritant for those with allergies and sensitivities.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a natural repellent and is especially useful against ants and mosquitoes. Many people love the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen. Cinnamon oil can be irritating to the skin in large amounts so, like cloves, be sure that you use it sparingly if you have sensitive skin or use it in a spray that you plan to use around your picnic area and not directly on your body.
- Citronella: Many are already aware of the benefits of citronella candles and products for keeping pests at bay. Citronella is very effective, but its smell is quite distinct and one that many people find unpleasant. Blending citronella with other oils can help mask the pungent aroma.
- Tea Tree Oil: This is a very handy oil to have around in general for its wide range of uses, and it makes a wonderful natural antiseptic. Tea tree oil naturally repels a wide variety of insects from mosquitoes to chiggers, mites, fleas, and spiders. Tea tree oil is a great addition to a first aid kit. Use it diluted with a carrier oil to disinfect minor cuts, scrapes, stings, and bites.
How to Make a Bug Repellent Spray
What You'll Need:
- Clean, small spray bottle
- 2 oz distilled water
- 2 oz vodka or witch hazel
- 15-20 drops essential oil
- Add the distilled water and vodka or witch hazel into the sterile spray bottle. Do not use rubbing alcohol, which is too harsh on the screen.
- Add approximately 15-20 drops of essential oil. This is where you can be creative. Use the oils according to your tastes.
- As you add a few drops of essential oil stop, gently shake the mixture to get an idea of its true scent.
Which Oils Should I Combine?
- Mix lemongrass, lavender, and citronella. If you want a spicier mix, use clove and cinnamon.
- For the best results, use a mixture of a variety of oils. With essential oils, a little bit goes a long way.
- If you can tolerate it, eucalyptus mixed with tea tree and citronella is a wonderful all-encompassing repellent. However, it has a strong smell. I use this mixture more to spray around the campsite and picnic table than directly on the skin. Also, clove oil can be irritating to the skin in large amounts. If you spray it on your skin, limit to no more than a couple of drops of essential oil per bottle.
- Another alternative to the spray is to mix your essential oils with a couple of ounces of a good carrier oil (olive oil or vegetable oil). Do not use mineral oil—it’s bad for the skin. You can then rub a bit of the scented oil around ankles, knees, the nape of the neck and other areas where ticks/mosquitoes love to bite.
- Natural insect repellents are easy to prepare and will prevent harmful chemical exposure for your family and pets. You can experiment a bit until you find the blend(s) that work for you.
Do you create your own natural products with Essential oils?
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Christin Sander