DIY Bug Repellent with Essential Oils


So, it’s summer and here in the Midwest mosquitoes have been out at all times during the day. I have heard how some people are more prone to being bitten because of their body chemistry, but whatever it is, 3 out of 5 of us are eaten alive before we even get out the door! Not kidding, my oldest will rack up a good twenty bites in such a short time out the door, it’s just crazy!

Concerns About Commercial Repellents

There has been a lot of data released as to the toxicity of DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), a chemical commonly found in repellents on the market. Studies show some concern with regard to using these products on young children and pregnant women, yet are still overall considered safe for use. It is absolutely true that mosquitoes and other bugs can carry really nasty diseases, so what is a person (especially a parent) to do, short of staying indoors for all of summer?

Essential Oils

I do have concerns about commercial products and would prefer to use something a little more natural and less toxic for my family. Essential oils are extracted from the roots, flowers, fruits and leaves of certain species of plants, and are exceptional for a wide array of uses. I have some friends that are knowledgeable in essential oils and it’s always fun to compare notes.

I also have a wonderful reference book as my go-to resource for all things essential oils. Additionally, the company from which I purchase my oils has a great website reference as well. (*See below for references). So, putting all of these resources together, I have come up with a DIY homemade bug spray that seems to be more effective (and safer) than the commercially prepared insect repellents.

DIY Safe & Effective Insect Repellant

In a dark colored glass spray bottle (I use a 4 oz. bottle) combine the following drops of each essential oil with 2 teaspoons of witch hazel and the rest filled with distilled water.

5 drops Citronella

5 drops Lemongrass

4 drops Lavender

4 drops Peppermint or Eucalyptus

2 drops Thyme


5 drops Bug Off

5 drops Lemongrass

5 drops Citronella

5 drops Lavender

*UPDATE 5/29/2016* In light of the Zika virus that is making its way around the globe, the Environmental Working Group has made a recommendation for the most effective prevention of bites from mosquitoes infected with the Zika virus is in fact a solution of DEET (7- 30 percent) and/or Picaridin (20 percent).

*UPDATE 6/15/17: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) link that was previously included has now been removed as the page is no longer available. Instead a new link has been provided.


Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. New World Library: Novato, California. 1991.

Rocky Mountain Oils


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