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Natural Homemade Insect Repellent

Updated on March 30, 2013

Window-box herbs can brighten your day and keep pests away!

Grow your own natural insect repellent and brighten your day!
Grow your own natural insect repellent and brighten your day! | Source

Strewing herbs discourage all manner of vermin!

Insect repellents you can buy in the store today are, for the most part, highly poisonous to insects and to you! Additionally, they are very bad for the environment. The fact that the use of these strong products is a fairly new practice means that we really don't know yet what long term effects their use may have on the environment and on us. One thing is certain, it is not a good idea to rub poison all over your skin or to breathe it every day for several months out of the year. Luckily, there are quite a few old-fashioned, natural ways of repelling insects, so you don't have to spray poison all over yourself and your home to repel pests all summer!

The medieval precursor to carpet provided just such a benefit. In the olden days, folks tossed dried aromatic plants over the surface of the floor as padding, insulation, air-freshener, and a way of repelling insects and even rodents. These plants were called strewing herbs. They were usually very strongly scented to keep down offensive odors and to discourage insects like fleas. Some of the most aromatic herbs used were wormwood, basil, thyme, feverfew, tansy, lavender, sage, rosemary, and oregano. These are all good for keeping insects away. Oregano and sage will discourage small rodents like mice and rats.

Of course, today we would not throw cut herbs around on our floors; however, it is still possible to use aromatic herbs to keep unwanted pests out without creating a vacuuming nightmare. You can keep flies out by hanging strongly scented herbs to dry in your windows.

You can discourage ants by boiling walnut leaves for about half an hour and then spraying the resulting liquid liberally around your foundation and the baseboards of your house. (Be sure to cool it thoroughly before you begin handling it!) You can also place bunches of dried herbs and/or evergreen boughs underneath large pieces of furniture like sofas and beds to discourage pests.

Make up sachets of herbs to keep in drawers and under cushions. You can make sachets using specific herbs like lavender for sweet scent and relaxation inducing qualities or oregano and sage for rodent repelling qualities, or you could create a mixed-bag for general pest repelling. Just put the herbs in small pouches that you can buy by the package at dollar stores or tie them up in cloth bundles using fabric scraps. No matter how you create your sachets, be sure to add a teaspoon of iris root powder (orris powder) to the herbs to help the scents last longer. You can find this online or sometimes at your local health food store.

Sachets can also be used to keep your woolen and linen items safe from moths & earwigs. Create a few sachets of lavender to put between blankets and comforters when you store them for the summer. When you take them out to use in the fall, they will be free of moth-holes, smell lovely and the lavender scent will help you get a great night's sleep!

Sachets provide safe winter storage!

When you put your coats and sweaters away for the summer, be sure to layer them with aromatic sachets. In closets, hang sachets from the hangers and stash a few in coat and jacket pockets to keep out moths and earwigs.

Some store-bought products are natural!

In addition to your home-made concoctions, you can find many products containing citronella on the market. Some of the most useful are torches and candles that you can burn outdoors whenever you are having a barbecue or other get-together on a summer evening. Citronella is a natural insect repellent that smells good. You can use the oil alone or blended with other aromatic oils to use as a personal insect repellent. A few drops of lavender and citronella oil mixed with rubbing alcohol or water in a spray bottle make a handy repellent to carry when outdoors. Remember to shake before using since the natural oils will separate from the liquid.

Very strong chamomile tea is also a good insect repellent. You can brew up a good strong batch and keep it in a spray bottle to douse yourself with whenever you are outside.

Elder leaves provide another option for personal insect repellent. When you are out of doors, keep your pockets stuffed with elder leaves. Two or three times an hour, rub a handful of the leaves between your palms to release their highly scented oils. Rub the oil over your neck, face and other exposed skin to keep mosquitoes away. Remember that you will need to apply the elder oil frequently as it does not remain effective for more than half an hour.

Handle With Care!

Be advised that, even though chamomile tea is safe and desirable to drink, and elder berries and flowers are also safe, elder leaves are not. Keep elder leaf oil out of your mouth and eyes.

Copyright:SB:April 17, 2010

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    • Marla Neogra profile image

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      I will definitely have to try some of these tips, especially the ant one. I always get ants in summer and will be ready for them this year!

    • harshad2011 profile image

      harshad2011 5 years ago from India

      Wonderful Information. Thanks for sharing.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Thanks, Marla! You can also discourage ants by wiping down the area where they travel with straight white vinegar. They don't like that! ;D

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I like the idea of all natural bug repellents. I will definitely be trying out the ones you suggest. Up, interesting and useful.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Glad I could help! ;D

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Great tips. I´ll try some of them, the one which I have not use yet. Thanks for sharing this informative hub and for following me.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Thanks Thelma! I'm glad to help! ;D

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Good tips. I hate insect sprays and will do anything to keep from using them. I will keep in mind your information. Voted up.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Thanks! You know, I just saw a video where a man had a great big strong fan, and he set it up with a piece of screen across the back held in place by magnets. Then he left it on in his backyard overnight, and in the morning there were thousands of mosquitoes stuck to the screen. He just sprayed them with a diluted mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to kill them and then turned the fan off and brushed them onto a piece of white cardboard. He said he'd just leave them there and the wild birds would eat them. He said the alcohol evaporates so it doesn't hurt the birds. This man said doing this every night really reduces the mosquito problem in his yard! Pretty smart! ;D

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Lots of great tips. I will have to try some of these. Voted up and more.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Thanks, Moonlake! I've just had a reminder from another Hubber that horseapples are great natural insect repellents too. If you have a horseapple tree around (Osage or prairie orange or Boie d Arc) you can use the fruit to worm your mule or keep bugs out of your house! ;D

    • Marla Neogra profile image

      Marla J Neogra 4 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Some really great tips!

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Many thanks! ;D

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Thanks Sally! I use citronella candles at times when I relax outdoors on the verandah. They smell good and chase bugs away. Voted up and interesting!

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 3 years ago from Only In Texas!

      My pleasure! Thanks for commenting! ;D

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Sally, I will be trying some of these tips, to deter pests.

      Voted thumb-up, UABI and shared

      Shyron

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I am going to try the walnut water for ants. Thanks!

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 3 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Great! Thanks for reading! ;D

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Sally, when I look through your hubs to see which one I want to read, this one keeps coming up.

      I love this one and I went to bookmark it and it is already bookmarked.

      I grew up knowing a little bit about herbs as in Great Aunt Hattie's Asphitidy bag.

      Voted thumb-up, UABI and shared.

      Shyron

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 2 years ago from Only In Texas!

      LOL! Thanks Shyron! That's probably because I haven't written anything new in so long! I'll have to get right on that! ;D

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great ideas, Sally, on how to make your own bug spray or insect repellant. Since summer is around the bend, this is handy to get started this spring. Voted up for useful!

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 2 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Thank you! Sorry it's taken me so long to answer! I haven't been online much lately! ;D

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Sally, no worries. We all have busy lives. But welcome back. You're welcome. Better late than never, right?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I want to give this recipe a try. The insects have been epic this summer.

    • SallyTX profile image
      Author

      Sally Branche 20 months ago from Only In Texas!

      Thanks! Let us know how it works for you! :D

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