Homemade Bug Spray: Natural, Safe And Effective Repellent Recipes

Imagine yourself on vacation, out in the tall grass, next to a beautiful lake, relaxing in whichever way you like best. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we all know one thing that can spoil your dream vacation — bug bites.

Whether you’re home with the windows wide open or out hiking, insects might be driving you insane. Mosquitos are the most common culprits, but other insects, such as ticks or spiders, are always on the prowl too. While a mosquito is a nuisance at worst, tick bites can be extremely dangerous, leading to Lyme disease and other health problems.

Locking yourself up at home is no way to live, though. You should be able to enjoy the beauty of nature at your leisure without worrying about bug bites. Bug spray often does the job at repelling insects, but at what cost? Most bug sprays are synthetic and borderline toxic — they’re sometimes worse than the bites themselves. 

Fortunately, there’s a way around the problem. You could make homemade bug spray all on your own. This will help you save money, repel insects, and stay safe from toxic substances. How to make homemade bug spray? Keep reading our comprehensive guide to find out!

Why Do I Need Bug Spray?

Preventing bug bites is more important than it seems. It’s true that a mosquito bite will itch for a bit and then go away on its own, but why not spare yourself the annoyance? For adults, that’s all it is — a bit of a bother. For children, preventing bites is much more important. 


Kids are prone to scratching an itch, leaving small wounds behind. These wounds are the feeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria. They’re also gateways to a more serious infection. That’s another reason why using bug spray is helpful & needed, especially for your kids. 

That’s just for mosquitos, but what about ticks? Ticks may transmit a whole host of dangerous diseases. Ticks are very common in grassy areas, forests, near lakes and ponds. They’re small and often impossible for you to spot before they bite you.

According to the CDC, ticks may carry the following diseases:

  • Lyme disease
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Borreliosis
  • Heartland tick virus
  • Heartland virus
  • Many more

Those two kinds of insects aside, there are many more that you can beat with a homemade bug spray.

Which Bugs Are Affected By Homemade Bug Spray?

The answer to this depends on what ingredients you will use in your spray. Different insects respond to different things, that’s why most homemade sprays contain a large number of different ingredients, such as essential oils and more.

If you know for a fact that you will be encountering several kinds of bugs, all you need to do is add a bit more ingredients to the formula. We will show you how below.

All in your own home, you can prepare a spray that will repel the following:

  • Mosquitos
  • Ticks
  • Moths
  • Biting flies
  • Fleas
  • Gnats
  • Ants
  • No-see-ums
  • Many more kinds of bugs that bite and/or sting

Why is Homemade Bug Spray BetterThan Store-Bought Bug Sprays?

Many people simply go to the store and pick up a can of bug spray, but is that really the best way to go? The short answer is no. Commercial bug sprays are full of dangerous chemicals that can hurt you and your loved ones. One such chemical is called DEET (N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). 


What is DEET?

DEET is a chemical that is present in most bug sprays. Some people don’t suffer from any reactions to it, but in the worst-case scenario, it can cause serious health issues.

Side-effects of DEET include:

  • Seizures
  • Skin irritation and redness
  • Rash
  • Stomach issues
  • Manic psychosis
  • Cardiovascular changes
  • Several more

Odds are you wouldn’t have any of these side-effects, but is it really worth the risk? If your answer is no, it’s time to make your own homemade bug spray. This will help you protect your family both from bugs & from dangerous chemicals.

Is homemade bug spray as effective as chemical sprays?

Homemade bug spray can be very effective. With the right blend of essential oils, herbs, and other substances, you’ll be able to achieve high levels of protection. It’s true that commercial sprays may be more long-lasting, but they also come with a whole array of bad side-effects.

Considering that bug spray is also relatively cheap to make, you have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

What Ingredients Do I Need in My Homemade Bug Spray?

The advantage of homemade bug spray over store-bought variants is simple. All the ingredients are 100% natural, and thus, safe to use for the entire family. 

There are several kinds of herbs and essential oils that repel, or in some cases even kill, all manner of insects. As you may want to adapt to the insects that appear in your area, we will first cover some of the most common ingredients and tell you what they do. In the next section, we will share some of the best recipes.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is found in most homemade bug sprays. It’s actually toxic to ticks, so it’s effective at preventing bites and killing the nasty insects if they do happen to get on your skin. 

Lemon eucalyptus

Much like tea tree oil, lemon eucalyptus is excellent at repelling ticks. It’s also effective at keeping mosquitos and lice far, far away from you. Bonus? It has a pleasant smell.


Every single homemade bug spray should contain a healthy serving of citronella. Why? Because mosquitos hate it, and we all hate mosquitos, so… This is a no-brainer.

Lavender and geranium

These two oils, other than giving your spray a delightful smell, are actually quite effective at repelling bugs. Ticks, mosquitos, and tiny gnats dislike geranium & rose geranium. Lavender is also a natural tick repellant.

These two are not quite as strong as tea tree oil or lemon eucalyptus, but they’re still worth adding to the mix.


Lemongrass is great for repelling tiny gnats, such as no-see-ums. It’s also disliked by mosquitos.

There are many more useful ingredients that add up to creating the perfect mix. Be careful when mixing different scents, though, or you may end up with something that really does not go well together at all. 

Which essential oils are the best for a homemade insect repellent?

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As mentioned above, many homemade bug spray recipes rely on the use of essential oils. Pursonic makes sets of oils that are tailored to what you need for making your own bug repellent. Artizen, on the other hand, has a great Citronella essential oil — another important ingredient in bug sprays. You could even go all the way and buy Vsadey’s huge set of oils.

The possibilities are endless and finding your way around them might be tedious. We’re here to make your life easier, so put down the research and keep reading our guide to making the best homemade bug spray!

The Best Recipes For Homemade Bug Spray

You’ve learned most things that you need to know about homemade bug sprays. The only thing left is to create your own. But which oils and herbs do you need to mix to get it just right? Here are a few of our favorite DIY bug spray recipes.

All-purpose bug spray

This bug spray will keep you safe from ticks, mosquitos, lice, and several other insects.


  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup witch hazel astringent
  • 10 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of citronella oil
  • 5 drops of geranium oil
  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • ½ tsp of light culinary oil


  • Distillate for the witch hazel astringent if your skin is dry or sensitive
  • Castile soap or vegetable glycerin

Also required: 

  • A dark glass spray bottle


Combine all the ingredients in your dark spray bottle. Close it securely and then shake vigorously to mix everything well. That’s all there is to it!

Essential oils have a tendency to float on top. If you want to help with separation, you may want to add a few drops of vegetable glycerin or castile soap. 

Keep in mind that you should shake your spray bottle before every use to ensure everything remains blended nicely.

Mosquito-repelling bug spray

Many homemade bug sprays are efficient at getting rid of mosquitos. Here are some of our favorite blends. Keep in mind that for each of these recipes, you should buy a dark glass spray bottle.


Mosquitos particularly hate this spray.


  • ⅓ cup witch hazel 
  • 40-50 drops of citronella essential oil


  • Other essential oils, such as lemongrass

Combine the ⅓ cup of witch hazel with an equal amount of water. Shake vigorously. Once you’re done, add about 40-50 drops of citronella essential oil. 

Witch hazel does not have any smell of its own, so it pairs well with most oils. If you want to add extra oils to the citronella, be careful of possible clashes in the scents.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar makes for an excellent base for your essential oils. It mixes well with scents that are strong against mosquitos.


  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 40-50 drops of essential oils (lavender, rosemary, peppermint for the best scent)

Mix the vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Next, add around 50 drops of your favorite essential oils. Mix and choose depending on the effect you want to achieve. Lastly, shake the bottle well to ensure a solid mix.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is something you very likely already have in your kitchen. All you need is some essential oil to get rid of mosquitos. This recipe doesn’t make a spray — instead, you should put it in a jar and then apply it by hand. It’s great for kids, as coconut oil has a lovely smell.


  • ⅓ cup of coconut oil
  • 20 drops of essential oils (peppermint or lavender)

Add the coconut oil to a lidded jar. Next, add the essential oils of your choosing. Shake vigorously and leave it to rest for a while. Once you want to apply it, do it by hand to the exposed parts of your body.


You’ve learned our favorite recipes and you’re well on your way to becoming an expert in making homemade bug sprays. If you want to take your knowledge to the next level, check out our FAQ for more information.

How to prevent bug bites?


Other than using sprays, there are several ways to prevent insect bites. It’s important that you remain conscious of your surroundings and adapt to the area you’re in. That alone goes a long way in keeping the bugs away. What else can you do?

  • Pick clothes that cover your body, including arms, legs, ankles, and feet. This is especially important on hikes and in forests or grassy areas.
  • Wear clothes that are light-colored and loose-fitting.
  • Try not to use perfume or cologne, as they tend to attract insects.
  • Mosquitos are at their most active at dusk and dawn, so stay indoors during that time.
  • Avoid sitting near areas that have a lot of grass and water, such as ponds or lakes.

Is vinegar a good bug repellent?

Yes! Apple cider vinegar, or even simply regular vinegar, are both great natural bug repellents. Spraying a mix of just vinegar and water alone will go a long way in protecting you. Adding some essential oils only enhances the effect.

What can I use if I don’t have bug spray?

If you find yourself stranded without any way to make your own bug spray, there are a few other alternatives that will help you.

  • Lavender oils & lavender flowers can be rubbed onto your skin to repel insects.
  • If you’re camping, add sage to your campfire — mosquitos and other bugs hate it.
  • If you’re sitting in the garden, light citronella candles to get rid of mosquitos.


Going natural is never the wrong choice. As the world is filled with chemicals and toxic substances, it’s important to make the decisions that have the best possible impact on your health. On the other hand, no one wants to sacrifice comfort for the sake of using natural alternatives.

Fortunately, the only downside of a homemade bug spray is that it won’t last as long as its chemical cousin. Keep yourself & your family safe today by dropping toxic, store-bought sprays and making your own!