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Looking for an effective, non-toxic bug spray? Skip the DEET and use this simple, all-natural bug and tick repellent.
Reluctant to expose yourself and your family to the potentially harmful chemicals in most commercial bug sprays? We get it! This easy, all-natural bug and tick repellent is an amazing non-toxic alternative.
Living in Florida, each season presents itself with a new pesky set of insects. There’s yellow fly season in the spring/summer, biting gnats and no-see-ums in the summer, and then there are mosquitos… well, year-round.
After sitting outside and trying to stick it out, only to be left with battle wound bug bites that sometimes left scars, both Erich and I were desperate for an all-natural way to repel these sneaky suckers.
After researching different essential oils, what each one repelled and if they were safe for the entire family, this incredible homemade bug spray recipe is what we came up with. Anytime you come to our house and we sit out back, you’ll be greeted by a bottle of this homemade bug spray repellent.
Why avoid most commercial bug sprays
Many commercial bug sprays contain ingredients such as DEET, which are heavily controversial. DEET, in particular, has an array of different opinions regarding its toxicity and health implications.
After considering the potential risks, especially on children, because their skin absorbs chemicals more readily, we’ve decided to err on the side of caution. Instead, we try out best to use remedies that don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals and stick to non-toxic alternatives instead.
Insect-deterring essential oils:
High-proof vodka and witch hazel:
Both vodka and witch hazel are skin-friendly bases. In particular, witch hazel is known for its ability to kill pesky bugs and insects, as well as relieve the sting/itch if bitten by one.
While not absolutely essential to this homemade bug spray, vegetable glycerine, jojoba oil or olive oil all help the mixture stay combined and hold moisturizing properties that help counteract the drying effect of the alcohol.
Can this be used on children?
Yes. While there are tons of essential oils out there that effectively shield you from bugs and pests, we stuck to the ones that are considered kiddo-safe.
That being said, we wouldn’t suggest using essential oils on children under the age of 2 without chatting with an aromatherapist or your healthcare provider. Instead, you can spray your children’s clothes, rather than their skin. Just be sure to leave out the oil, as it could leave residue on clothing.
We would advise against using this on babies under the age of 6 months because their skin is extremely delicate and absorbs oils more readily.
Unsure about investing in essential oils?
These ingredients may seem like an investment if this is your first homemade beauty or body care project. Don’t fret! They’re well worth it and can be used in other DIY projects.
If you don’t have a certain essential oil, you can create your own combination using any of these: cedarwood, citronella, tea tree, lemon eucalyptus, geranium, catnip, patchouli, mint and lavender.
An inexpensive alternative
If you’re hesitant to invest in multiple essential oils, you can use a pre-mixed blend in place of the ones listed. This Shield Me KidSafe Essential Oil blend was specifically formulated to repel bugs and contains 100% pure, undiluted citronella, grapefruit, geranium bourbon, rosalina, and patchouli essential oils. Simply add 75 drops in place of oils listed in the recipe below.
- 2 tablespoons Everclear or 150+ proof grain alcohol (can use rubbing alcohol as a substitute)
- 2 tablespoons witch hazel
- 20 drops citronella essential oil
- 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops catnip essential oil
- 10 drops patchouli essential oil
- 1/2 cup (distilled) water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine, jojoba oil or olive oil (optional)
Pre-mixed Blend: Used in place of the essential oils listed above (citronella, lemon eucalyptus, geranium, catnip and patchouli essential oil)
- Using a funnel, pour the vodka and witch hazel into the bottle. Next, add the essential oils, distilled water, and moisturizing oil of choice. Secure the nozzle on the bottle and shake to combine.
- To use: Shake well and spray on your body or clothing. If you’re using oil in this mixture, spraying it directly on clothing may leave a little oil residue. If this is a concern, leave it out. Do not spray this repellent directly on your face. Instead, spray it into the palm of your hand and use your fingertips to gently apply it to your face.
- The duration of effectiveness of this bug spray is estimated to be between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
This is the recipe that works best for the region that we live in since Florida is inundated with mosquitos and flies. Feel free to tweak the oils in this recipe to better suit your needs and environment.
To prevent degradation of essential oils, use a glass spray bottle, rather than plastic.
As with any homemade remedy, always spot test first before using this bug spray. To do this, spray a small amount on the inside of the forearm and check the area intermittently over the course of 24 hours to make sure there is no reaction or skin irritation.
Legeay, S., Clere, N., Hilairet, G., Do, Q.-T., Bernard, P., Quignard, J.-F., Apaire-Marchais, V., Lapied, B., & Faure, S. (2016, June 27). The insect repellent N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) induces angiogenesis via allosteric modulation of the M3 muscarinic receptor in endothelial cells. Scientific reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4921870/.
JR;, S. D. R. S. B. T. F. B. (2014, August 7). Neurotoxicity and mode of action of N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). PloS one. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25101788/.
Lee, M. Y. (2018, October 2). Essential oils as repellents against arthropods. BioMed research international. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189689/.
Keywords: Homemade Bug Spray, All Natural Bug Spray, All Natural Tick Repellent