DIY Natural Mosquito and Insect Repellent Spray with Essential Oils

How to easily create safe, natural insect repellant sprays in your own home.
How to easily create safe, natural insect repellant sprays in your own home.

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.


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.

Do you create your own natural products with Essential oils?

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© 2011 Christin Sander

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Comments 9 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 9 months ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Rock


Rock Zombie 9 months ago

One thing to consider. I use Lemongrass oil to attract and capture swarms of honeybees. It works great. I don't go around my bees smelling like Lemongrass or bananas. Bananas smell like their alarm signal to sting.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Hi Wesman,

You are correct mosquitoes do tend to shy away from people who supplement with B. Lucky you that you don't tend to get bit. I only seem to really get bit on my ankles and wrists - I guess that's where my veins are the plumpest ;) lol

Thanks for enjoying the hub and taking time to leave such a great comment. I really appreciate it.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Very interesting! I know next to nothing about those things.

So far as mosquitos are concerned, I sort of lucked out. If me and any other person are standing next to each other - the mosquito always picks the other person.

I just don't taste so yummy to the little devils. I'm rather pleased to be repulsive smelling to blood sucking creatures.

I'm not sure if it works, but a long time ago in a nutrition course in a local community college - the teacher stated that if someone took a hundred milligrams of vitamin B1 with meals every day - that that would cause that person's sweat to smell in such a way that mosquitos wouldn't much care for him or her.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you RTalloni - I know the bugs in the south can get a bit extreme - we go to Georgia a lot and have seen some of your legendary bugs lol.

Tebo - the cinnamon is a good way to keep more from coming in - but won't necessarily rid you of the ones you have. they have ant baits commercially that work well. If you put a line of cinnamon where they are coming in though it should stop them from crossing the line and coming through it.

Thanks all for stopping by and reading the hub :)


tebo profile image

tebo 5 years ago from New Zealand

Great hub ChristinS. I am going to bookmark this hub. These repellants sound very easy to make and natural is so much better. I came home today to find an ant infestation. Shall try the cinnamon on them, thanks.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for the good over view of these herbs and for the recipe. We need as much help as possible in our southern clime! :)

Voted up.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you Angelique I'm glad you enjoyed it. Cinnamon is really great at repelling ants. If they come into your house in the spring you can find where they are entering and pour cinnamon there - they won't cross it because it irritates their feet.


Angelique Newman profile image

Angelique Newman 5 years ago from Canada

Great hub; I'm always for chemical free alternatives. I had no idea about cinnamon repelling ants and mosquitoes! Thanks for the great advice :) I voted it up.

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