Homemade Bug Spray (Scare Away Bugs with Non-Scary Ingredients)

Nature amazingly has given us plants that repel insects of all kinds – you can harness that power easily in your own homemade bug spray to avoid unnecessary commercial chemicals.

I’m not sure what scares me the most – bugs or the chemicals used in the sprays to deter said bugs.  DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is one of the scariest ingredients I can think of that is most often used in store-bought bug sprays.

Use insecticides containing DEET sparingly and infrequently. If you do use one on your skin, avoid wearing it for prolonged periods of time.

Be wary of using insect repellant containing DEET on children. Children are more susceptible to subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in their environment because their skin more readily absorbs them. Also, their still-developing nervous systems are more potently affected. For the same reasons,

NEVER use insect repellant containing DEET on infants.

Be aware that DEET can be present in commonly used preparations like insecticide-based lice-killing shampoos. Use the same precautions with such preparations as you would with insect repellent.

Do not combine insecticides with each other or use them while using other medications. Even an over-the-counter antihistamine could interact with DEET to cause toxic side effects.

Do not spray your yard for insects and then take medications afterward. There is a possibility that you’ve inhaled a small amount of the insecticide that might interact negatively with the medication. Also, be sure to wash your skin thoroughly after spraying your yard. Lawn treatment chemicals are very strong and were not formulated to be applied to human skin.

From the Duke University Medical Center News Office [Read more at Quantum Health which explains it best]

Fortunately, DEET’s past and reputation is something many people know about so a lot of bug spray companies created an improved DEET-free version.  Buying a “natural” bug spray at the store is likely better than a DEET-filled one, but there are still unnecessary additives in there with their own questionable nature.  Here is a look at a few bug repellents that claim to be natural, compared with my homemade version on the very right.  Ingredients in bold are ones that give me a sad-face 🙁

Polysorbate 20, Oleth 10, Potassium-3

You are not at the mercy of the manufacturers.  Everyday products do not need to be created in a laboratory.  You can make your very own bug spray that works better than any brand, and safely use it on your children.  Should you forget your spray and end up with bites or stings anyway, the oils in this recipe are also excellent to take the itch and inflammation away immediately.  Seriously.  I also spray this around windows, baseboards, and anywhere I’d like to keep the bugs away…including on hotel beds because it repels bed bugs, too.  Additionally, I’ve been known to spray this in stinky shoes in a pinch because of the oil that remove odors in it (Purification), and spraying it on my belly for menstrual cramps (the Peppermint in it).  That’s the beauty of making homemade sprays…multiple uses!

How?HomemadeNon-ScaryBug Spray

Just grab a glass 4 ounce glass spray bottle (avoid plastic containers when using essential oils since they remove toxins from plastics and our bodies).

Add 16 drops Purification oil (Get these oils here)
8 drops Peppermint oil
6 drops Lavender oil
4 drops Citronella oil (optional)

Fill with distilled water.

Place lid and swirl gently now and before use.

Ta da! Bug Spray.  Husband-approved, working-all-day-on-the-golf-course-tested, carry-it-constantly, environmentally-friendly, smells-heavenly bug spray. 

*Advanced Tips*
– I like to place a pinch of Epsom or sea salt in the bottom of my container and drop the oils directly on them before adding liquid.  This simply helps disperse the oils into water better, but they eventually settle if you want to skip this.
– I do make-and-take classes with this recipe to show the ease of natural homemaking; the water-based nature of this means a shorter shelf-life (Don’t save it for a year; use it up or make another batch next bug-season) and I feel like I need to apply this often.  So if you’re ready to take it to the next level…After adding all of your essential oils, add an ounce of either apple cider vinegar or witch hazel, THEN fill the rest with water.  This helps preserve it a little better and provides a better “coat” on the skin.
– Play around with your own formula.  Other insect-repelling oils include lemongrass, basil, neem, and rosemary.

Why These Essential Oils?

Purification – A Young Living blend of citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), lavandin, and myrtle.  This oil can purify and cleanse the air of odors and impurities, and is the ultimate bug repellent.  Even by itself, this oil may be all you need to avoid insects because it is composed of so many naturally repelling oils already.  This will also cleanse and soothe existing bites, cuts, and scrapes like you won’t believe.

Peppermint – This oil naturally repels spiders, ants, and mice very well, so it’s another excellent choice to use alone even.  Before I used this spray, I simply mixed Peppermint and water in a small bottle to spray around the house and we avoided the ant problem we had the year before.  A peppermint mixture can also be effective to spray directly on garden plants to avoid aphids. A drop on a tick will make the little sucker pull his head out for easier removal.

Lavender – Mosquitos are naturally deterred from the healing properties of lavender.  Since it cleanses skin irritations, it is great for both preventing and soothing bug bites…and adds a super scent to this recipe.

Citronella – Widely known as an insect-repellent, true citronella oil is not just the fake fragrance-filled liquid for tiki torches.  When properly steam-distilled from the leaves and stem of different species of Cymbopogon (lemongrass), citronella is a non-toxic, anti-fungal deterrent of mosquitos and some flies.  The Purification oil contains some citronella so I only add this in occasionally when I feel like it.

All of my essential oils are from Young Living because it is the only brand of oils I trust to put on my family and myself.  I cannot attest to the effectiveness or safety of this recipe using oil from other sources.  Less than 1 percent of oils out there are truly pure, therapeutic-grade oils, so please do your own homework.  Read more here about why I am so adamant about this.

Bugs usually eat me alive and have only done so this summer ONCE when I forgot my bug spray at an outside birthday party.  I am so happy that I was able to come home to relief by applying it on my itchy spots instead of miserably scratching away for days.  As fall approaches, I spray this on myself and my two-year old everyday when we are out in the grass playing and spray it often in our home where I know spiders like to lurk.  Mix up a batch (or half-batch) of this to take you to the winter pest-free (note: this oil does not repel family members or co-workers).

This is my necessary disclaimer that this blog is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure. I am only a mom with an education background. I must let you know that any essential oils statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. I simply approve for myself and family of such things that I deem safe, effective, and positively life-transformative. I encourage you all to be informed and empowered with your health. Also, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. When you click them, you help me to cover a small portion of the cost of this blog. I appreciate your support so that I can continue to do what I love. Please note that I only ever endorse products that are in alignment with Odds & Evans’ ideals, my personal use, and those I believe would be of value to my readers.

Amanda Evans

I'm a work-at-home mom, passionate about holistic health and natural living/parenting. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Holistic Life Coach. This nutrition nerd blogs randomly at OddsandEvans.com about clean eating, fitness, homemade product recipes, and other mindful wellness topics.

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1 Response

  1. October 23, 2014

    […] recipe, project or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? Either the homemade bug spray since my kids make hose-concoctions all summer (aka we live on a mosquito farm.) OR posting a […]

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