Getting bitten by a bug is more than annoying. Many bug bites can have short term or even long lasting repercussions. Mosquitoes can carry a host of diseases including West Nile.
You want to lower your risk of getting an insect borne disease by not getting bitten in the first place. But some commercial bug sprays can be just as dangerous for you as the bite itself can be.
Before delving into bug spray recipes, it helps to understand more about the dangers of commercial bug sprays and why essential oils are a safer alternative.
The Dangers of DEET
Many commercial bug sprays contain the controversial ingredient DEET which stands for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. DEET has been linked to skin irritations, nausea, vomiting and other health issues and has had some questionable reports.
Several studies that have been done on using DEET have had mixed results. This study indicates that DEET is a powerful bug repellant. However, that seems to be the only plus side to it. Also, the study includes a long list of warnings and precautions that itself question the safety of this chemical.
There are several other studies including this one that look into the short and long term effects of DEET. What is particularly troublesome is that the studies have all been conflicting. Some studies are looking into the possibility that it could possibly harm the central nervous system. That’s scary. What’s scarier is that not one study has definitely disproved the adverse effects of being exposed to DEET.
It’s not really worth taking the risk, especially when there are proven all-natural and safer alternatives. One of these safer alternatives is using bug-repellant essential oils.
How Essential Oils Work To Repel Bugs
Essential oils are hugely popular for their many physical and mental health benefits as well as their use in DIY bath and skin-care products.
What has remained relatively unknown is their use as bug repellents. Not all oils. Some of them. The aroma of these oils act as effective bug repellents
Instead of using bug sprays that are questionable for your health, it’s far better to make your own safe bug spray with essential oils. Because essential oils are natural, you don’t have to worry about loading your body up with chemicals that result in all types of disturbing side effects.
When you make a natural bug spray using essential oils, you’ll gain other benefits, too – like the oils being better for your skin and the spray having health benefits besides just warding off insects.
Top 10 Bug Repellent Essential Oils
What’s interesting to know about these bug repellent essential oils is the way they work to repel bugs. To us humans, all of these oils give out wonderful aromas. Who doesn’t love breathing in the lovely aroma of cedarwood, peppermint, lavender and lemongrass?
However, the scents of these oils don’t have the same effect on bugs as they do on humans. Bugs hate these smells, which is what repels them and protects you. Interesting, right?
In addition to their bug-repellent odor, many of the essential oils on the list also contain small amounts of chemicals that also contribute to the bug-repelling effects.
Of course, not all essential oils have these bug-repellent odors. If you are looking for an easy and effective way to enjoy the outdoors without being bitten by these pesky creatures, you’ll want to use one or more of these bug-repellent essential oils.
As you scroll down, you’ll find ideas for how to use these oils as well as DIY bug repellent spray recipes.
Citronella – Citronella is the most powerful and the best-known bug repellent essential oil. It is often used in citronella candles that can be used to keep pesky mosquitoes away when you’re sitting outdoors in the evening.
Lemon Eucalyptus – Lemon Eucalyptus is among the best essential oils for repelling mosquitoes naturally. This oil is extracted from the Eucalyptus Citriodora tree that is native to Australia. What makes this oil particularly useful is that it takes a longer time to evaporate, so you get the bug-repelling benefits for a longer time.
Cedarwood – The aroma of the cedarwood essential oil is a powerful natural bug repellent. This is why cedarwood is often used to make closets and drawers.
Lemongrass – Several studies have proved the bug repellent properties of lemongrass essential oil.
Pine – Like cedarwood, pine is another wood that is popularly used to make closets and drawers because of its natural bug-repellent properties.
Peppermint – This may come as a surprise to hear but yes, peppermint made it to this list too. Peppermint essential oil is used in many DIY bug spray recipes, both for its ability to repel insects as well as its fresh, minty aroma.
Tea Tree – A popular addition in many anti-acne skin-care products, tea tree also acts as a bug repellent. Its powerful antibacterial and antifungal qualities, make this oil very useful for soothing and treating painful bug bites.
Lavender – Like peppermint, lavender is another inclusion in this list. In addition to all its other well-known uses, lavender essential oil can also be used as a bug repellent.
Catnip – One of the lesser-known oils in everyday use, catnip is commonly used in bug-repellent recipes. While it is not yet known how it works, catnips bug repellent properties are undeniable. It is thought that mosquitoes stay away because they dislike its scent.
Basil – Who’d think an everyday herb that we add to our dishes would also act as a bug repellent. But this study shows that it does. Basil essential oil contains an ingredient that is a proven larvicide. Its sweet-spicy aroma acts by targeting insects at the larvae stage. Basil essential oil is also used to soothe mosquito bites.
DIY Bug Spray With Essential Oils
While the first recipe you see is very effective, it does require a few essential oils that you may not use for other purposes. If you do not have these oils and don’t want to buy them just for this purpose, scroll down to find 2 very effective versions you can make with just one premade synergy blend and a few other ingredients.
Homemade Bug Spray Recipe #1
30 drops Citronella
20 drops Lemon Eucalyptus
20 drops Lavender
20 drops Geranium
10 drops Rosemary
¼ cup Avocado or Sweet Almond Carrier Oil – both of these are light on the skin and not very greasy
½ cup Natural Witch Hazel
½ cup Water or Vinegar
1tablespoon Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol
1 teaspoon Vegetable Glycerin
4 oz Amber-Colored Glass Spray Bottle
Always use an amber-colored glass spray bottle for this DIY bug repellent. Essential oils deteriorate in plastic bottles and will lose their bug-repellent properties over time. The dark colored bottle will help prevent exposure to light, which is another factor that contributes to the deterioration of essential oil properties.
Homemade Bug Spray Instructions
1. Put all the essential oils in a glass spray bottle.
2. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
3. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine.
4. Add water and shake well so all ingredients are well mixed.
If you’re using vegetable glycerin, add it in step 4 before adding the water. Vegetable glycerin is not necessary but it does help all the other ingredients to stay combined.
Remember to shake the bottle well before each use. Oils and water don’t mix. Every time you leave the bottle standing, the oils will separate and float on top of the water. Concentrated essential oil droplets can irritate your skin on direct contact. Shaking the bottle will mix the liquids and prevent any chance of skin irritation.
Keep your homemade bug spray with essential oils by the door so you can reach out for it easily before stepping out. If you have plans to go hiking or camping over the summer, keep a bottle handy in your first-aid kit.
Easy Homemade Bug Spray Recipe With 1 Bottle of Premade Synergy Oil
This homemade bug spray is so easy to make, there’s really no excuse not to. And you don’t have to buy 6 different essential oils. All it takes is one essential oil blend that is formulated to repel insects.
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 oz Amber Glass Spray Bottle
45 drops Rocky Mountain Oils Bug Away Neat Essential Oil Blend
1 teaspoon carrier oil – Jojoba or Fractionated Coconut Oil are excellent
2 oz base – Use either Vodka, Witch Hazel or Distilled Water
Add all ingredients to the spray bottle. Shake well.
That’s it. Your DIY Bug Spray with Essential Oils is ready to use.
Remember to shake well before each use so that the oils and the base are completely mixed. Spray the mixture lightly onto exposed skin and clothes to repel bugs.
It is advisable to create small batches at a time as this bug spray recipe is water based and does not have any preservatives. The shelf life is about 1 – 2 weeks. To extend its shelf life, keep in the refrigerator when not in use.
You can also mix 1-2 drops of the Bug Away Neat Essential Oil Blend in a carrier oil and apply it directly over the skin to keep bugs away.
What makes Bug Away so effective at repelling insects? This essential oil blend is formulated with Citronella, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Thyme, and Lavender. Each of these oils is known to have insect repellent properties. Together, they create a blend that acts as a powerful bug repellent.
The best part about Bug Away is that it doesn’t have that awful smell of commercial repellents. Bug Away has a mild, and fresh citrusy aroma that you’ll love but bugs can’t tolerate. Win-win!
Read the reviews here to see what other users have to say about using Bug Away.
KidSafe Homemade Bug Spray with Shield Me Essential Oil Blend
This is another incredibly easy bug repellent spray recipe that’s safe to use on kids. It uses the Shield Me Essential Oil Blend from Plant Therapy’s KidSafe line of essential oils.
To make a kid-friendly bug spray, add 40 drops of KidSafe Shield Me Organic Essential Oil to 2 oz of Fractionated Coconut Oil in an amber-colored glass spray bottle. That’s it!
Shake well and apply to the arms, legs, and neck before going outdoors.
Shield Me Organic KidSafe Essential Oil is specially formulated for kids aged 2 to 10. It contains Citronella, Pink Grapefruit, Patchouli, Geranium Bourbon, and Rosalina essential oils. All essential oils are 100% pure, organic, undiluted, and USDA Certified.
All-Natural, Non-Toxic Premade Bug Repellent Options
To make your own bug spray, you do require several essential oils that you don’t normally use in everyday applications. If you don’t want to buy the additional oils or you just don’t enjoy DIY projects as much, these premade options are great alternatives. They are made from all-natural ingredients and are non-toxic and safe to use.
Babyganics Travel Size Bug Spray – Does not contain DEET or any other toxic chemicals, nongreasy formula made with 100 % natural essential oils including Citronella, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Geranium.
REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, Pump Spray, 4-Ounce – Non-greasy, DEET- free formula, made with lemon eucalyptus oil, repels mosquitoes for up to 6 hours.
All Terrain Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent, DEET-Free Pump Spray – DEET-free and GMO-free formula, environmentally friendly & non-irritating to the skin.
Quantum Health Buzz Away Extreme – DEET-free Insect Repellent, Essential Oil Bug Spray, 4 Fl Oz – Made from a proprietary blend of essential oils, suitable for Children and is environmentally friendly.
Did you make your own bug spray with essential oils or did you choose a premade option? How effective was it? Share your experience in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.