DIY Natural Mosquito and Insect Repellent Spray with Essential Oils
DIY Essential Oil Bug Repellant
By Christin Sander
A Natural Alternative to Deet & Other Chemicals
Essential oils can be a bit pricey, but a little bit goes a very long way and most essential oils have a wide array of uses from aromatherapy to hair/skin care. I prefer to make many products homemade, not only because it ultimately saves money, but it is also healthier for the body and prevents the release of chemicals into the environment that are found in commercial bug sprays.
Every summer we love to go hiking and camping. Unfortunately, mosquito's, ticks, and other pesky critters like to try to tag along. I began looking for a way to repel these unwanted guests in a way that would be natural and not harmful. I have very sensitive skin and mild asthma and I am sensitive to most commercial products and chemicals.
Essential Oils that Repel Bugs
The following essential oils are great for repelling bugs. Some smell better than others, as any of you who used a Citronella product are probably aware. I find citronella most unpleasant, but there are other oils that can be combined with it to make it more tolerable. Below are a list of oils you can combine in different ways to create your ideal natural insect repellant.
- Lemongrass – This oil has a lovely, citrus scent and repels fleas, ticks, and lice. It is often used in soaps and perfumes for its appealing fragrance.
- Orange Oil - This oil is a natural deterrent to fleas and ticks. It has a wonderful, but not very strong or long-lasting scent. It is a nice compliment however to many of the other oils listed and can be used in many other household products and natural cleaners as well.
- Eucalyptus – This is strong smelling oil that you may be familiar with if you’ve ever sucked on a menthol cough drop or rubbed a product like “Vick's” on your chest. Eucalyptus is not only an effective insect repellant, it actually can be used to treat minor skin irritations like bug bites when mixed with a proper carrier oil. (Never apply any essential oil directly to the skin)
- Lavender – This pleasant smelling essential oil is used in many products because it induces relaxation and is calming to mind and body alike. It is also a natural insect repellant and good for the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, from mild irritation due to bug bites, to severe skin conditions like eczema and even sunburn.
- Clove – Clove is more known for its culinary uses; however it makes a good natural mosquito repellant and has a strong, spicy scent that many find appealing. It can be mixed with citronella and will tend to overpower it (thankfully ;) ) Clove oil can be irritating and should never be taken internally as it can cause stomach upset. Only use clove on the skin if you know your pet - or child for that matter - won't get it in their mouths. Clove should be used very sparingly on the skin as it is a known irritant for those with allergies and sensitivities.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a natural repellent and is especially useful against ants and mosquitoes. Many people love the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen. Cinnamon oil can be irritating to the skin in large amounts so, like cloves, be sure that you use it sparingly if you have sensitive skin or use it in a spray that you plan to use around your picnic area and not directly on your body.
- Citronella – Many are already aware of the benefits of citronella candles and products for keeping pests at bay. Citronella is very effective, but its smell is quite distinct and many people find it to be unpleasant. Blending Citronella with other oils can help mask the pungent aroma of citronella alone.
- Tea Tree Oil - This is a very handy oil to have around in general for its wide range of uses and it makes a wonderful natural antiseptic. Tea Tree oil naturally repels a wide variety of insects from mosquitoes to chiggers, mites, fleas, and spiders. Tea tree oil is a great disinfectant and a great addition to a first aid kit as well. It is excellent (diluted) for disinfecting minor cuts, scrapes, stings, and bites.
Natural Insect Repelling Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is the most versatile. It has a strong, astringent scent, but it can be used in salves to treat cuts and wounds and also on insect bites should you get one. It has potent antiseptic properties and can be blended with your favorite carrier oil. A small bottle will last for years.
Lavender Essential oil smells delightful and also has a range of uses. I use it for homemade dryer sheets, for relaxing aromatherapy and yes, in my insect repellant blends. When choosing essential oils to add to my supply; I always opt for the ones with the highest range of uses first.
How to Make Bug Repellant Spray
Use a clean small spray bottle (not one that has held other products previously)
Add 2 oz. distilled water, 2 oz. vodka or witch hazel – NOT rubbing alcohol too harsh on the skin! Next you will add approximately 15 – 20 drops of essential oil and this is where you can be creative. Use the oils according your tastes. Mix lemongrass, lavender and citronella for example, or use clove and cinnamon for a spicier mix.
For the best results use a mixture of a variety of oils. With essential oils a little bit goes a long way. As you add a few drops of essential oil stop and gently shake the mixture to get an idea of its true scent.
If you can tolerate it, Eucalyptus mixed with Tea Tree and Citronella is a wonderful all-encompassing repellant, however it is strong smelling. I use this mixture to spray around the campsite and picnic table more than directly on the skin. Also, clove oil can be irritating to the skin in large amounts, so if spraying on the skin limit to no more than a couple of drops of EO per bottle.
Another alternative to the spray is to mix your essential oils with a couple of ounces of a good carrier oil (olive oil, vegetable oil etc. NOT mineral oil – it’s bad for the skin) You can then rub a bit of the scented oil around ankles, knees, the nape of the neck and other areas where ticks/mosquitoes love to bite.
Natural insect repellants are easy to prepare and will prevent exposure by your family and pets to harmful chemicals. You can experiment a bit until you find the blend(s) that work for you.
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© 2011 Christin Sander
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