The KS readers are just fantastic! This post is packed with reader recommendations for DIY and homemade insect and mosquito repellents – they are by and large natural, safe, and at least one person out there says they work!
Why didn’t I test them all, you ask? Not enough bugs, for two summers in a row, for real. (I still managed to pull off the natural insect repellent review by the skin of my teeth, though! Check it out for good options to purchase.)
From what I understand, though, each person’s body chemistry is going to have a serious effect on how well a given bug repellent formula will work for preventing mosquito, tick or other bug bites anyway, so maybe you just have to try them yourself.
I’m indebted to the KS Facebook community for helping me put this awesome list together! (photo source)
Natural Home Made Insect Repellent Recipes
- Rely on essential oils and mix with half apple cider vinegar and half witch hazel for application
- Which essential oils?
- tea tree
- citrus scents, especially lemon
- UPDATE: oregano is good to prevent tick bites, according to the comments
- Some of these are reader recommendations; the rest are from the formulas I’ll be testing for the natural insect repellent review, so they may not officially be “essential” oils but are listed as “oil” nonetheless. More on those in another post!
- If you mix essential oils with another oil carrier they last longer and spread further, usually fractionated coconut oil, but any liquid oil, even extra virgin olive oil, should work. The only downfall to that is that you’ll have to rub on instead of being able to spray it on. One reader also says coconut oil will attract the buggies, so be careful! That said, two of the very effective purchased insect repellents contains coconut oil, so maybe you just want to stay away from unrefined coconut oil with the scent? Just guessing…
Do you know how to properly dilute essential oils?
Katie here, popping in to tell you how important it is to be sure you’re diluting those essential oils properly. Knowing you’re supposed to dilute essential oils for use on the skin is a good start – but as usual, I did it wrong for a few years before I got smart enough to find some resources and do the math.
I took a moment to make a one-page printable for you so you can snip an easy-to-read chart and tape it right onto your medicine cabinet door – wherever you keep your essential oils – so it’s always handy. It includes all the dilutions in drops of EO + tsp. or Tbs. of carrier oil for babies, toddlers, younger and older children, and adults. You shouldn’t have to do any math when you need a remedy now (you’re welcome).
- Homemade soap nuts liquid – reader says it works on BIG mosquitoes! I’d love to try it, as I have found that Shaklee’s Basic H, dabbed on full strength, actually works amazingly well, so maybe there’s something to natural surfactants and insect repellents.
- UPDATE: from the comments section, a reader uses Vitamin E oil and rubs the oil on – keeps buggers away for 2-3 days!
- 2 cups witch hazel extract
1 1/2 teaspoons citronella essential oil, or lemongrass essential oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Combine all in 16 ounce spray bottle. These glass ones are nice. Shake. No need to refrigerate. Apply liberally, avoiding mouth, eyes and nose. (we close our eyes, hold our breath and spray some in our hands to rub on our face quick, no harm)
- Fill bottle about 85% with witch hazel (and have some extra to top off at the end if needed). Add 10 drops each of the following essential oils: cedarwood, tea tree, rosemary, lemon-eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass. Add 20 drops each of lavender and peppermint essential oils. Add a few drops of Vitamin E oil (this helps the spray to last longer – both on your skin and in the bottle). Shake well before using!
- 1/2 tsp lavender oil & 2 cups of water= Multipurpose spray BUT fantastic homemade mosquito repellent!
- Some other homemade natural bug spray remedies
These homemade insect sprays don’t sound all that hard to mix up, but you have to be willing to invest in essential oils if you’re not already using them regularly. Try Plant Therapy as one source for quality EOs.
If I had a chance to test this, I’d start with soap nuts liquid because it’s cheap and I have it on hand, then try some of the basic EOs like lavender and tea tree, again, because I have them on hand. I’ll let you know if I ever get a chance to watch mosquitoes land on me and see if I can fend them off with a homemade bug spray option!!