Natural Bug Spray Recipe

*Be sure to also visit Katie over at Wellness Mama!

The wonderful Amish farmers who we get a lot of our produce and meat from are predicting a record season for bugs in our area.

As someone who seems to be a magnet for mosquitos, I am less than enthused about this!

I’m also not a fan of chemical bug sprays. In their case, the cure seems worse than the disease, since the chemicals in many bug sprays have been linked to hormone imbalances and different chemical toxicities.

At the top of the list to avoid is the harmful chemical DEET, which is present in many commercial insect repellents. According to this site:

One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.

DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.

Fortunately, there is a natural alternative that is fast and easy to make at home (catching a trend here?).

The easiest way to make natural insect repellent is to use concentrated essential oils in a water and witch hazel base.


  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1/3 cup witch hazel
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerine (optional)
  • 30-50 drops (total) of essential oils for desired strength: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Catnip, Lavender, Mint        (I use 10-15 drops of each of: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus)

(All ingredients are available here)

How to Make: 

Combine all ingredients in an 8 ounce or larger spray bottle (glass is best). Shake well and shake before each use.

How to Use:

Spray on the skin before exposure to areas where you will come in contact with insects. Repels mosquitos, gnats and other small insects. Re-apply every 2-3 hours or as needed.

Other Options:

There are also ways to make homemade insect repellant from fresh or dried herbs or as a vinegar based formula which is highly effective (all of those recipes here).

You can also find DEET free natural bug sprays that are pre-made (including kids versions)  if you don’t want to makle your own.

Do you use bug spray? Ever made your own?


  1. April says

    Have you found that these actually work though at preventing bug bites? I’ve tried DEET-free brands in the past and they did work at all…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *