There are so many things to love about summer, but mosquito season isn’t one of them. Here’s a simple DIY bug spray to keep bugs at bay without resorting to harmful chemicals found in many commercial bug repellents.
Our family loves this easy bug spray because not only do we get to skip the chemical insect repellents, this homemade spray actually smells fantastic! We get compliments on it all the time, and one friend even comes over to get a whiff when we wear it because she likes it so much.
The secret ingredient is geranium oil, which smells delicious to us humans but not to the bugs that want to come nibble on us.
Homemade bug spray can be tailored to your family’s preferences. Certain oils aren’t recommended for use on kids under 10, so be sure to check before adding oils like peppermint, which isn’t considered safe for the littles in your life. The recipe below uses spearmint, which is considered safer for kids. When making bug spray kids will use, I also tend to avoid oils that may be endocrine disruptors, like tea tree and lavender. Speak to your pediatrician before using essential oils on children under 2.
Other oils to avoid include anything citrus-based, like bergamot, lemon, orange or grapefruit. These oils can be phototoxic, which means they react on your skin when exposed to sunlight and can cause burning.
You can pick and choose oils based on what you have on hand and the scents you prefer. Citronella is a helpful oil to include, but it does overpower other oils in the mix. Different oils can help repel different pests: some are effective on mosquitoes and other flying insects, while others repel ticks. Other oils you might consider include lavender, rosemary, catnip, tea tree, patchouli, cedar, lemongrass, chamomile and vetiver.
This recipe uses witch hazel as a base. Vinegar can be used instead or in addition to witch hazel, but it will affect the smell.
This spray can require frequent application to protect you from bites. For longer-lasting protection, try adding soybean oil, which has also been shown to help repel insects. Note that oil may stain clothing.
An extra bonus: If you do get a bug bite, the witch hazel, vinegar and oils in this spray help to alleviate itch.
If you’d rather purchase your bug repellents already made, you’ll find many of these ingredients in natural bug sprays available at Vitacost.com.
DIY Bug Spray Recipe
2 oz. witch hazel
2 oz. apple cider vinegar (or boiled and cooled water)
15 drops geranium essential oil
15 drops oil of lemon eucalyptus or citronella essential oil
10 drops spearmint essential oil
½ tsp. vegetable glycerin
1. In clean spray bottle, combine witch hazel, vinegar or water, and glycerin.
2. Add preferred essential oils and shake well.
3. Spray over clothes and skin, and reapply every 2 hours for continued protection. Shake well before each use.