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Everyone can agree that the bane of summertime is the insects that use us as a food source, leaving our skin red, itchy and just not sexy at all. It’s inevitable, simple math really—warmer weather equals less clothes equals more mosquito bites. If you’re like us, you’re always tempted to just go buy a can of brand-name bug spray that does you more harm than good with its harsh chemicals. But before you grab that can of commercial cancer, you should take a minute to explore healthier DIY bug spray recipes.

Our natural world is full of plants and matter that has healing properties, and essential oils are unsung heroes of the natural world. While you do have to be careful with them, in moderation essentials oils can be used in a variety of homemade products such as lotions and scrubs, and they are especially effective when used as DIY bug spray recipes. Different oils repel different bugs, so the right combination of essential oils will equal no bites and a nice clean scent without the toxic fumes. Of course, they’re not to be played with lightly as the can have harmful risks. But the key to a successful concoction is portions, and if they are diluted with other ingredients, essential oils are a great, natural alternative. Most people might gravitate to lavender, cedarwood or rosemary oils, but these essential oils also work very well:

  • citronella
  • eucalyptus
  • tea tree
  • peppermint
  • cypress
  • rose geranium
  • bergamot
  • lemon

Now go and try these three DIY bug spray recipes, and we hope you’ll never want to use the can again.

Natural insect repellant from DIY Natural

This is a really simple recipe that pretty much breaks down what makes essential oil DIY bug sprays safe and effective. You take a carrier ingredient such as grapeseed or olive oil, add a preservative (in this case vodka) and use a combination of essential oils depending on which you’d rather use and which have the best insecticidal compounds.


  • 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: witch hazel or vodka (find witch hazel here)
  • 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds) – (where to buy these oils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vodka as preservative (if not already using)
  • 100-110 drops essential oils (user preference)

Oil pairing suggestion:

  • 55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
  • 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil (if using, choose Lavandula angustifolia– “Lavender (40-42) essential oil” does not have the same insecticidal qualities)
  • 15 drops rosemary essential oil

Get the entire recipe from DIY Natural.

Essential oil bug spray recipe from Wellness Mama

Family-friendly health blog Wellness Mama is a treasure trove of helpful ways to live a more natural lifestyle and cut out the harmful products we use. This super simple recipe follows almost the exact same formula as many others, but with slightly different ingredients. We recommend trying a few different options out to see which recipe works best for your skin.


  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender and Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Get the entire recipe from Wellness Mama.

Super strong insect repellent recipe from Wellness Mama

Wellness Mama has a lot of decent options for natural DIY bug sprays, including two that use herbs. This one is called Vinegar of the Four Thieves, and apparently it was once used to ward off the black plague. Mosquitos are a little less life-threatening, but it worked before…


  • 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

Get the entire recipe from Wellness Mama.