Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!

(Recipes coutesy of

With the warmer weather upon us, comes those pesky inects!  The insect repellents in the stores are mostly loadly with poisonous and very harmful chemicals, especial a chemical called DEET which can be very harmful, causing skin rashes and other serious issues…soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. 

Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects,  possibly even worse effects!!!

A healthier Alternative is to make your own bug sprays!  Here are some very effective bug spray recipes….As with practically every household item, natural bug spray can be made inexpensively and naturally at home. 

Homemade Bug Spray


30 drops geranium essential oil

30 drops citronella essential oil

20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil

20 drops lavender essential oil

10 drops rosemary essential oil

1 Tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol

1/2 cup Natural Witch Hazel

1/2 cup water (or vinegar)

1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (optional)

Homemade Bug Spray Instructions

Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.

Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using. This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined. Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.

DIY Bug Spray Recipe Variations

Natural bug sprays can also be made without essential oil using dried herbs and witch hazel or vinegar. This recipe is typically considerably less expensive, though it is also not as potent as the recipe above.

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray


Distilled water

Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol

Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Instructions

Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.

 Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!) Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.

Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool). Use as needed.

Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin.

TIP: If you have the time and want to make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.

Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent


1 32 ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 TBSP each of dried Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint

At least quart size glass jar with airtight lid

Vinegar of the Four

Thieves Insect Repellent Instructions

Put the vinegar and dried herbs into large glass jar. Seal tightly and store on counter or place you will see it daily. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks.

After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in fridge.

To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed. Use whenever you need serious bug control!

Note: This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, dose is 1 TBSP in water several times a day, for kids over 2, dose is 1 tsp in water several times a day.

Other Simple Insect Repelling Ideas

 Use a non-toxic, plastic-free insect-repelling band (I love this one), which is easier to use on children and very effective.

Add vanilla extract to either of the above recipes, or just rub on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version.

Plant insect repelling herbs in your yard. I grow lavender, thyme, mint and citronella near our patio and we use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch.

Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on your skin, especially on hot parts of body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects.

Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.)

Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes and I’ve used fresh basil leaves in the garden with great success before.

Store Bought Natural Insect Repellent Options

There are now also some good natural insect repellent options available to purchase if you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand or want a simpler solution.

Some of the ones that I have personally tried and liked are:

Badger Essential Oil Insect Repellent

Babyganics natural insect repellent (listed as safe for use on children)

Herbal Armor (allergy tested)

 What are your tricks for keeping bugs at bay? Which do you think is worse… the insects or the chemicals in most repellents?


KJensifyme Healthy | Katharine