Natural Insect Repellents: How They Work + A DIY Recipe

by | Updated: December 2nd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

Q: What makes an insect repellent “natural”?

A: During the summer, it’s extremely important to use a spray to keep those blood-thirsty mosquitoes and other nagging insects away. Among the hundreds of solutions on the market, how do you know which is the natural choice? The more popular brands contain potentially dangerous chemicals such as DEET, which is capable of dissolving plastic. Whereas, a more natural formula substitutes these harsh ingredients for essential oils and extracts. Because these are things you can find in your pantry, it’s possible to quickly and easily make your own pure and effective bug repellent. But if you don’t have the time or patience for a DIY spray, there are a variety of natural repellents readily available.

Natural & Homemade Bug Repellent Recipe
Pick up a spray bottle to hold your homemade bug repellent.


Q: What are the benefits of using a natural insect repellent over the well-known brands?

A: The primary reason to opt for a natural bug spray is to avoid dangerous chemicals. Not only can these chemicals be detrimental to our health, if our children happen to get hold of a synthetic bug spray, these potentially toxic chemicals could cause some serious damage if ingested or sprayed into the eyes. A bug spray consisting of various essential oils diluted in water would not have the same repercussions.

In addition to being safer than synthetic bug spray, natural insect repellent can be customized to fit your liking. Utilize your favorite oils and scents to make an effective bug repellent that smells great and doubles as a skin moisturizer!

Q: How do I make my own natural insect repellent?

A: There are many essential oils that can be used for natural bug spray solutions. In addition to warding off bugs, essential oils can be motivating or help promote relaxation. Just be sure to dilute the essential oils before applying to your skin.

Invigorating oils: Lemoneucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass, tea tree, rosemary, citronella
These essential oils are known to be effective at warding off mosquitoes and other pesky insects. They are also known for being invigorating and stimulating! One (or all) of these oils will be perfect in your natural bug spray for an invigorating hike or any active day that bugs are trying to ruin!

Relaxing oils: Lavender, geranium, cedarwood, cinnamon
Try these oils to ward off pests while you lay out on the beach (add them to your sunscreen) or enjoy nature bug-bite free in your backyard hammock.

Essential oils aren’t the only natural ingredients which play a role in creating the perfect bug spray, though. Here are some other fantastic natural insect repellents:

Coconut oil – Acts as a base and wards off insects (and is excellent for your skin!).

Witch hazel – This also acts as a base, but it has a lighter consistency than coconut oil (they work excellent together). In addition to warding off pests, witch hazel is a fantastic toner and natural skin remedy.

Madagascar vanilla extract – Has been shown to be incredibly effective at increasing the duration of bug-repelling effects.

Here’s a basic natural bug spray recipe you can try out for yourself:


12 drops lemon essential oil
12 drops eucalyptus essential oil
4 oz witch hazel
4 oz coconut oil (or water)
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract


  1. Mix ingredients in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well before application.
  3. Apply to exposed skin and clothing; avoid spraying on face or near eyes.

If you don’t have the time to make your own bug spray, try one of these excellent natural blends!