Make your own bug spray with just a few ingredients. Homemade bug repellent works for mosquitoes, gnats, flies, and ticks depending on what oils you have! Works well for summer fun with my homemade citronella candles.
Camping, picnics, evenings on the back porch. What do these things have in common? SUMMER! FUN! BUGS! And the fact that you need homemade bug repellent.
You know, but there’s no summer without summer bugs, and really, I could do without the bugs. That’s one reason why we make this homemade bug repellent.
Our last canoe trip was almost ruined by horseflies. Dealing with the mosquitoes and flies can make a fun outdoor activity lose its appeal. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
If you’re like me, you aren’t going to run out and buy the first bug spray you see on the shelf at Walmart. Personally, I like to avoid pretty much all store-bought body products and make my own instead. (Homemade toothpaste and sunscreen are two of our favorites!)
I don’t care for applying many chemicals to my body and just like most shampoos, bug sprays are full of harmful and unpleasant ingredients. Plus they don’t smell good.
We’ve stopped using most store-bought household cleaners too. Find out more about that HERE.
What we need is a chemical-free homemade bug repellent!
Homemade Bug Repellent
Besides being much safer than store-bought chemical insect repellents, homemade bug spray is:
- Easy. Just combine the ingredients and go!
- Cheap. Using only a few drops of essential oils per batch, your pure essential oils will last for a long time!
- Versatile. There are two different ways you can make some depending on your preferred application: rub on or spray on.
The key ingredient for either recipe is essential oils. The strong scent of essential oils will repel bugs away as well as give you added aromatic benefits!
Ingredients for DIY Bug Repellent with Essential Oils
Making your own bug repellent is simple and effective! You only need a few key ingredients:
- Essential oils (I prefer to buy mine from Young Living. More about that HERE.)
- Carrier oil (Avocado oil is great on the skin!)
- Witch hazel (Be sure to pick one like this brand, that only has witch hazel listed in the ingredients. We also use this in our favorite after sun spray.)
What is the best homemade mosquito repellent?
I think pure essential oils make the best homemade bug repellent. These essential oils are traditionally recommended for their bug-repellent properties:
Note: I know there are a lot of essential oil companies out there and I’ve certainly tried my fair share of brands. But after testing and researching and more testing, only one is worth spending money on (in my opinion). For a couple of years now I’ve been committed to Young Living oils, and you can read more about their oils and my decision HERE.
DIY Homemade Bug Repellent: Rub-On
This is a crazy simple recipe. You only need two ingredients: a carrier oil and a mix of essential oils. You can use a similar recipe for your pets as well and avoid the need for chemical-laden flea and tick collars. Just keep in mind that not all essential oils are safe for pets. Check out this pet-friendly adaptation for your four-legged friends.
Rub On Homemade Bug Repellent Supplies
- Carrier oil (I like sweet almond oil or avocado oil they are light on the skin and not too greasy)
- 10-20 drops of preferred essential oils (see above for single oil recommendations, or below for some great combos)
- Small bottle or old jar
How do you make natural bug repellent?
- Add 2 tablespoons of carrier oil in a small bottle or re-useable jar. Add in 10-20 drops of your preferred essential oil.
- To apply, simply shake the bottle well and rub a small amount of oil on exposed skin. The bugs will stay away and your skin will be nourished!
DIY Homemade Bug Repellent with Essential Oils: Spray-On
If you prefer a spray-on repellent this works great although it uses a few more ingredients.
Spray-On Homemade Bug Repellent Supplies
- Carrier oil (I like sweet almond oil or avocado oil as they are light on the skin and not too greasy)
- 10-20 drops of preferred essential oils (see above or below for some great combos)
- Small spray bottle
- Distilled water
- Vodka or witch hazel
How Do You Make Spray-On Homemade Bug Repellent?
- In a 2 ounce bottle or jar add in 1 1/2 Tbsp of distilled water, 1 tsp of carrier oil, 1 tsp of vodka or witch hazel, and 15-25 drops of essential oils. Shake well before spraying on your skin.
- This recipe could easily be doubled or tripled for a camping trip or frequent outdoor activity and put in a larger glass spray bottle.
- With both of these recipes, avoid getting the repellent in your eyes or mouth!
What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate?
Here are some of my favorite essential oil combos for repelling bugs. They seem to all work the same; it depends on what kind of scent you desire!
- Campfire: 10 drops Rosemary, 6 drops Cedarwood
- Floral: 8 drops Geranium, 5 drops Lavender, 5 drops Rosemary, 2 drops Patchouli
- Hippie: 10 drops Lavender, 6 drops Cedarwood, 4 drops Patchouli
- Fresh: 12 drops Lemon, 5 drops Peppermint, 3 drops Eucalyptus (Use caution with lemon and sun exposure. This EO is better used after the sunsets!)
Don’t forget to experiment with some different combos and mix it up! Your bugs may be repelled better by some essential oils more than others.
Homemade Bug Repellent Without Essential Oils
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have the chance to get these essential oils, or if you’d just simply prefer not to use them, we’ve made our own plant-based homemade bug spray using herbs and extracts instead with good success.
The best part is that you likely already have everything you need at home, and if you don’t, you can get it all at the grocery store.
Store-bought Bug Repellent
I know some families aren’t the DIY-ers and would prefer to buy it ready to go. If that’s you, here are the top bug repellents I recommend:
- The Yellow Bird (DEET-free and made in the US) (needs new link)
- Babyganics (also DEET-free and safe for baby)
- All-terrain Herbal Armor (made with herbs and likely found locally as well)
I am so happy to keep the bugs away by using a natural product that is free of nasty chemicals. Plus when you think of the money you save by making your own bug repellent, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it yourself!
More Summer DIYs
- DIY 3 ingredient sunscreen
- After-sun Spray
- Bug Repellent without Essential Oils
- Homemade Citronella Candles
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What do you use to naturally keep the bugs at bay? Have you tried making your own homemade bug repellent?