All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!

wellness mama natural bug spray recipe All Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!

You might have seen my recent recipe for Homemade Healthy Sunscreen, which although it is natural and safe, I don’t recommend using often because it limits Vitamin D production. Depending on where you live, something that might be used much more often is a natural homemade bug spray.

At my house, we joke about mosquitoes being the size of birds, and they certainly do seem to come in flocks! Especially with small children who are prone to scratch mosquito bites, keeping them away is a priority.

Also a priority is avoiding chemicals like DEET, which are present in many commercial insect repellents. According to Green Your Body:

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 neurological 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.

As with practically every household item, natural bug spray can be made inexpensively and naturally at home. (I’m still working on perfecting recipes for shampoo and dishwasher detergent though! Any ideas?)

This recipe literally takes just seconds to mix up and can be varied based on what you have available. I’ve included several variations so you can try whichever one you have the ingredients for.

Wellness Mama Essential Oil Bug Spray

Wellness Mama Bug Spray Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

How to Make Homemade Bug Spray:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

Make Bug Spray From Dried or Fresh Herbs

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Ingredients:

  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.

How to Make Bug Spray From Fresh or Dried Herbs:

  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.
  2. Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)
  3. Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool!)
  4. Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin!

Super Strong Insect Repellent Recipe

Fair warning: this stuff stinks when it is wet, though the smell disappears as it dries. It works incredibly well though, and this is the one I use when I’m going to be in the woods or in tick infested areas. It is based on a recipe that was supposedly used by thieves during the Black Plague to keep from getting sick. They used it internally and externally to avoid catching the disease and to keep the flies and other pests away. According to legend, it worked and they survived… but it definitely makes a great insect repellent these days! Its also very inexpensive to make and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen!

Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent Ingredients:

  • 1 32 ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP each of dried Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint
  • At least quart size glass jar with airtight lid

How to Make the Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent:

  1. Put the vinegar and dried herbs into large glass jar.
  2. Seal tightly and store on counter or place you will see it daily. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks.
  3. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in fridge.
  4. To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed.
  5. Use whenever you need serious bug control!
[Note: This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, dose is 1 TBSP in water several times a day,for kids over 2, dose is 1 tsp in water several times a day. More on this in an upcoming post!]

Other Simple Insect Repelling Ideas:

  • Add vanilla extract to either of the above recipes, or just rub on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version.
  • Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on your skin, especially on hot parts of body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc) to repel insects.
  • Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc or citronella, lemongrass, etc) Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes and I’ve used fresh basil leaves in the garden with great success before!

What are your tricks for keeping bugs at bay? Which do you think is worse… the insects or the chemicals in most repellents?

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Reader Comments

  1. Audrey stucker says

    seems all the natural repelents weve tried have just not worked very well. i made the vinegar of four thieves a few years back, misquitos still land and bite. weve also tried the natural citronella type repelents. i will give the essential oils recipe a try this summer.

    • Angelic says

      I have been using essential oils for 12 years now. I use Young Living, others use DoTerra. Ive used store bought brands thst are cheaper too. It depends what I am using the oil for…medicinal or just fragrance with a bit of goodness in it. My poi.t is essential oils are potent and will give you the results you want. Purity is better but you can also experiment with the lesser costing oils to see if they give you the desired effect. Then move up from there if you like. I use cedarwood for roaches in distilled water spray bottle, and lemongrass with peppermint for mosquitos. That Theives recipe is effective when used with essential oils.

      • Marcella says

        Could you please give me the dosage for the mosquito solution. I also would like to know if about the thieves soap, is it the pump hand soap thats all I can find online? I did find a thieves blend mix of oils.

        • jamie says

          I did a mixture of neem oil, rosemary, peppermint, lemon grass, rose, lavender, eucalyptus, bergamot and tea tree. I used 4oz water 3 oz alcohol and over 60 drops of the oils plus 5% of the neem oil. Sadly they were all over all 3 of us following us like crazy and biting. We had to break out the deet and a candle. I really wish the natural stuff worked.

    • Rita Hogan says

      Hey Wellness Mama, Love your site.

      Just wanted to make a comment that Rubbing Alcohol is toxic and should never be used. It is denatured with petroleum distillates and other toxic substances to render it undrinkable.

      Many folks don’t know this and the nasty alcohol has been working its way into everything these days.

      Recommend grain alcohol instead. Organic is best. Thanks, Rita.

      • Melissa says

        rubbing alcohol is toxic because manufacturers added toxins to keep people from drinking it. I would not use lavender or tea tree oil on young prepubescent boys since recent studies have shown a possible correlation between gynecomastia (breast development) and their use. the herbs act as hormone disruptors. When the deodorant that had these oils in them were stopped-the boys returned to normal

    • Victoria says

      The best home bug repellant… Spray bottle with baby oil, imitation vanilla extract, thin with water if desired. I use it on myself and my horses, works on mosquitoes, horse flies, deer flies, does not attract bees, even though we smell like sugar cookies. I use the cheap generic versions, works just as good as name brand. You can add lavender or lemon juice if you want…and lavender scented baby oil is perfectly fine.

  2. Karyn says

    Oh I hope this works! We have mosquitoes that carry the LaCrosse virus (causes encephalitis) so I use the deet stuff when we’re in the woods. But my kids get bitten anyway because they’re constantly running in and out of the house and I don’t want to spray them with Deet all day long. 

    • Consuello Colding says

      Lemongrass oil is also great for stopping the itch caused by mosquito bites. Just rub a little into that area with a paper towel.

    • Katie Householder says

      @ Kate, I’ve recently started growing my own personally, since i’ve gotten around to knowing what will grow well in my area, as well as what I use most of, but I always went to , and i still do now for what wont grow in my area. They are a great site, very reasonable, and they have a facebook page too that you can ask them anything! And their herbs are always so fresh!

  3. says

    Where do you get the witch hazel? I noticed on the website where you get the essential oils the extract was out of stock, and I’m not exactly sure what kind of “witch hazel” to use? I’m going to make this for family for Christmas this year and want to get the supplies in the next couple weeks or so. 

  4. Peter says

    Top marks to you Wellness Mama. I have been scouring the Internet looking for natural insect killers especially a general household spray. I’ve found it and how simple your concoctions are. There is a lot for me to learn here about all things natural. I will be a frequent visitor here and have bookmarked this site.
    Sincere congratulations and many thanks

      • Carol Procter says

        Just to you let you know, went up the amazon and used the bug spray and havn’t been bitten (that I know of)  We were on a cruise ship, and went looking for beasties every night on deck!

      • Jan says

        Went to the Amazon in ’06 down the Maranon from Iquitos in Peru and all of the others were using DEET and got hundreds of bites. Only me and one other were using a natural catnip/essential oil blend and we only got bit a few times. Mosquito nets are a must though!

      • Isabelle says

        Hi there, First, let me say BRAVO! I follow you religiously ;) also, I’ve made the apple cider vinegar mix and it’s almost ready. I would like to add catnip oil to the mix. My question is…can I add catnip oil to this mix? Also, what would you suggest as a ratio? I understand that the apple cider vinegar mix ratio’s is half the mix with half water, in a spray bottle, but how many drops of oil? Just an example and I can do the math after that :) thanks a million!

  5. Rausrus says

    I’m actually looking for a natural recipe for my horse that is allergic to bug bites, especially midges it seems. I ran into your site and wonder if the thieves recipe would something to try.  Can you tell me the difference in potency or longevity between essential oils and dried herb mixtures?  We have tried a concoction with apple cider vinegar, pinesol and water…an old remedy that our vet recommends which helped a little, but not as good as we hoped.  I’d like to try the thieves recipe and wonder if there’s a oily base I could add to it to help it last longer or will it keep it’s effect long after it dries?  How often would you think we’d need to reapply?  We’re in MI, so she’s not really sweaty and it’s fairly dry and very sandy.   
    Thanks for any advice you could share.

    • Katie Richards says

      I see this is pretty old but, when I had horses growing up we would fill a gallon wide mouth jug with as much fresh basil as we could cram in there and then fill it with apple cider vinegar. This would steep for two months before being applied with a hand mitt.

  6. says

    apparently, Thieves oil is also used to fight mold growth.  This is what I heard from my natural foods/goods store owner.  I’d like to try it, because Thieves oil is SUPER expensive.  Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Hollis says

    I am also highly allergic to bug bites, one easy at home recipe I have used that worked was Listorine. kept the bugs away like nothing else. I’m excited to try these, they may prove to be less sticky than the mouth wash! : )

  8. Dawn Schulte says

    Great recipes! Are any of the recipes safer or more kid friendly? Or are there any oils I should make sure I DON’T use on a child? My two year old is a mosquito magnet … thanks for the help!

  9. Tash says

    I don’t like to use tea tree on my skin, it makes my skin very oily. Just something to consider if anyone uses TT and notices skin changes like that.

    You asked about natural hair products. I do a variation on the baking soda/apple cider vinegar (BS/ACV) method.  I don’t like the smell of acv and I am blonde so I use lemon juice instead. It works great on my wavy hair.

    • Teresa says

      My medicince woman told me that Tea Tree can be used homeopathically to remove skin tags… no wonder everyone notices skin changes and/or have a reaction to it on the skin..

  10. Tash says

    oh, and if you want an all natural gel recipe google “flax seed hair gel”. I haven’t tried it yet but it is suppost to be great.

  11. Lori says

    In my area of Pennsylvania, the abundance of ticks is alarming. An herbalist friend told me that Geranium essential oil  is more protective than tea tree or mint., and is a much more tolerable scent than citronella. It’s safe for animals, also.

  12. Drake says

    I noticed that you recommended using pennyroyal to rub on your skin. Please note that Pennyroyal is a known abortifact (can induce mis-carriages) and shouldn’t be used by women of child-bearing years.

  13. Elle says

    can I mix witch hazel, water and acv? i’d like to soak some herbs in small amount of acv and then later also add some essential oils. is this a good idea? or is it a good idea to soak the herbs in witch hazel instead? i’ve made some flower water before, but no matter how much i strain it through coffee filters, still some tiny pieces are left in the water and go bad really soon. how to prevent this? does some alcohol do the trick?

  14. RIssbelle says

    Should you dilute for children or while breast feeding? I know I dilute my at home sprays. What about the essential oil bug spray?

      • Melissa says

        rubbing alcohol is toxic because manufacturers added toxins to keep people from drinking it. I would not use lavender or tea tree oil on young prepubescent boys since recent studies have shown a possible correlation between gynecomastia (breast development) and their use. the herbs act as hormone disruptors. When the deodorant that had these oils in them were stopped-the boys returned to normal

  15. Courtney says

    Thanks this is great.  I can’t wait to try the strong bug spray.  My son is allergic to mosquitos so it is very important we use a strong spray on him but I hate spraying him with DEET based spray every time he goes outdoors, which is several times a day. 

  16. says

    When you spray it on you, is it supposed to smell like the oils? When I spray it I don’t smell anything, Does that mean that I didn’t put enough oil?

  17. Ken says

    I rub undiluted white vinegar on my exposed skin, including face, and it appears to send the mosquitoes packing. They hang around my clothing but not my skin, which tells me that white vinegar, by itself, is a repellant. My next experiment is to spray my clothing with it, also. I am convinced that there is no one repellant that will work with everyone. What works for one person doesn’t for another and vice versa.

  18. says

    My dogs were being bitten to pieces when ever I walked them near the river or in the forest, the mosquitos and horseflies are awful – the dogs get bitten, I get bitten but they are the best places to walk them. I have now made the bug spray using the essential oils suggested above and IT WORKED!!! The horrid bitey wee beasties would fly towards the dogs, get to a few inches and fly away!!
    The dogs came back bite free, my legs were bite free but like a twit, I forgot to spray my hands so got bitten on my thumb.
    I just want to say a massive thank you!!!!

    • lisa says

      so that was my question i am new to the use of e.o is putting them on a dog safe, dogs lick themselves so i was worried it wouldn’t be safe for them we recently moved by a river and my dog is in misery she is doing the walking itch and scratches till she bleeds

    • Tim says

      Ruth, did you use ALL of those oils listed, or just pick some… and if so, which ones did you use ?

    • shirelle says

      Hello there, i know this was a very long time ago and I hope you get a notification. What did you use for you and the dogs. As I got bitten last week and my arm and hand swelled up, turned put I had cellulitis and my partner was bitten 8 times last night so I have a feeling there’s a few in my room. I need something to repel mosquitoes straight away. Thanks.

  19. Luisa says

    Thanks so much for these great recipes.  Based on one of your recipes, I tried 1.5 TBS of organic catnip, 1.5 TBS of organic lavender and 2 cloves in distilled water.  It has worked like a charm.  I usually get eaten alive by mosquitoes and when I have that on, nothing.  I am very happy because I can use this on my kids without worrying about the effects of DEET.

  20. says

    Thank you for the recipe for natural homemade mosquito repellent!  I’m so going yo try this…however, I have a few questions:
    1. Can you use this directly onto skin, or should it be sprayed onto clothing?
    2. What brand of essential oil would you recommend or does any brand work?

    • says

      It can be sprayed directly on skin. I use the oils from Mountain Rose Herbs (there’s a link in my resources section) since they are the least expensive high quality oils I’ve found.

  21. Amanda Sweeney says

    Hi…..why the vegetable glycerin in the spray? Just wondering is it definitely helpful as I don’t have any and wouldn’t bother trying to source unless essential – is there anythihg else you can use instead? Thanks!!!

      • Amanda Sweeney says

        Thanks so much, I am going on hols to Greece in September and am definitely gonna try your spray. Thanks!!

    • Marguerite Santa Maria says

      Most health food stores sell it and its good to have just incase you need it for anything else. I used to used it in my electronic cigs to dull down some flavors.

  22. Traci Akierman says

    Thank you for this recipe.  Mosquitoes LOVE me.  I used to get bitten even using Off.  I’ve tried several natural bug sprays and none worked for me.  I made the one using witch hazel and essential oils and gave it a test run today.  30 minutes trimming my hedge and no bites!

  23. lorraine says

    i made the dried herbs bug spray but i put a twist on it, i doubled the recipe and put one cup of rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 of vinegar mixed with a 1/2 cup of regular water, dunno if it works yet but it def smells strong….and honestly if it works then i can deal with the smell!

  24. Lea says

    Dear Wellness Mama,
    I know you said you were looking for recipes for shampoo and detergent, my mother used to make her own shampoo and conditioner from these ingredients,
    Coconut Milk, honey, water, and a little bit of soap(like hand soap) my mom told me that the coconut milk is rich with vitamins and oils that are good for the scalp, and the honey coats and moisturizes the hair, the water is there to just thin it out so your not left with a sticky mess and the soap is to clean all the dirt, if you want a fragrance you can also add some vanilla bean, lavender works well, or any other fragrance oils you find in a craft store work, just make sure they are okay for your skin(so not the stuff for candles) hope this helps. (sorry my mom couldn’t remember the measurements but i figured it was a good start)

  25. says

    For folks that don’t have a lot of essential oils on hand. “Bug Off” by Plant Therapy (I purchased at Amazon) is a blend a Citronella, Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Lemon Grass, Lavendar, Lisea, Tea tree, and Pathouli. 25-30 drops of this plus recipe as stated above works GREAT!! You do have to apply a little more often than the icky commercial stuff but who cares! This recipe is very cost effective!

      • Tanya says

        I’ve heard that too. My friend uses it around her fruit trees to keep the insects away. Also, catnip is supposed to be extremely effective for deterring ticks. Have not tried it yet as the essential oil is very expensive – therapeutic grade anyways.

  26. Sue says

    What is your take on essence oil and toxicity, some studies show months of using oils in everything leads to cancer have you had a different expirience i bought a bunch of 100% natural oils and now affraid of using them

  27. Sheryl says

    I’m replying to Wellness Mama’s post: How to Make Homemade Bug Spray:

    “Essential oils” The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

    Sheryl: Let me begin by saying that I don’t have ANY pets, because most “flea remedies” are aimed at ppl w/pets. I’ve apparently got a pheromone or something that attracts fleas (my doc said it could be the meds I’m taking because I’d never had this problem before & have had pets in the past). I sit outside on my patio daily & live in Florida, so it’s been a real problem!!

    That said, I’ve spent countless hours online, talked to my docs, pest control ppl & have experimented with MANY different pesticides/sprays for the yard. I’ve tried different things that ppl have suggested to put in my hair, but nothing worked!

    I want to give a BIG THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! to WELLNESS MAMA for your awesome essential oil recipe!!!!!!!! I had heard of these different things; Rosemary, Clove, Eucalyptus, etc… throughout my research & tried these scents alone (not essential oils), but nothing worked. Them, I decided to try yet another way to try to keep those little suckers at bay. I found a web-site (Botanic Choice) that is BBB accredited & it just so happened that they had a sale going the day I called to order the 6 essential oils you recommended. Then I went to the local health foods store & got a 4 oz. bottle of Jojoba for a carrier oil (great reviews on this), to the dollar store, which had the witch hazel for a buck & while I was there I picked up a colored spritzer container.

    I used about an 8-10 oz. spritzer bottle, filled it 3/4 full of distilled water, put an oz. of witch hazel, 1/4 oz. of Jojoba oil, the around 4-8 drops each of the above listed essential oils, then filled it almost to the top w/more distilled water. I shook it up really well, then applied it to my hair & combed it through. It really seems to help keep those little suckers under control – they don’t like the scent, though I do seem to have to reapply often, it’s totally worth it to get some peace & it smells great too!!! AGAIN, THANK YOU WELLNESS MAMA, God bless you for helping me to find relief!!!!!!

  28. says

    I am allergic to bug repellents, due to mainly the Eucalyptus – it affects my asthma. I have never used it on my son due to his skin allergies. I have thought about the natural and homemade bug repellents, but not sure if there is other ingredients that I am allergic to and what any my son could be allergic to.

  29. says

    Where can we buy the ingredients that are listed in this recipe? I want to give this a try since my husband and me are having some kind of flying-bug plaque everytime summer is starting.

  30. Mich says

    Hi wellness mama
    I want to make your homemade bug spray but I just want to ask if these oils are safe to use on a 6 month old baby and myself while breastfeeding? I get eaten alive by mosquitos and am really hoping this will help cause regular bug sprays never really have thanks! :)

  31. Gema says

    Hi! I’d love to try this on me and my children, we are absolute magnets! Do any of the ingredients increase sun sensitivity? We live in Canada and even in the dead of heat we will get bit, we always wear sunscreen and I’d love to know if this will effect the our sensitivity to the suns rays. Thanks!

  32. Jill says

    Hi! I’d love to try this on me and my children, we are absolute magnets! Do any of the ingredients increase sun sensitivity? We live in Canada and even in the dead of heat we will get bit, we always wear sunscreen and I’d love to know if this will effect the our sensitivity to the suns rays.

  33. Maya says

    I just came back from a month of filming in the Louisiana swamps, and had AMAZING luck with using one of these recipes… I used witch hazel, distilled water, lemongrass essential oil and organic vanilla extract (no added sugar). It worked so much better than any of the commercial repellants and smelled fantastic. Everyone on set started using it and it really helped minimize the mosquito/chigger bites. We had to reapply quite often because of the amount of insects, about 30-45 minutes, but was worth it! Also having great luck with your coconut oil deodorant recipe. LOVE this site! Thanks so much for sharing!

  34. sharon says

    Shampoo:) pour baking soda into jar. Add a little water to make a paste(it will dry out after use) when showering grab a handfull and put a few drops of water on it(to make pastelike). Rub into hair and scalp. Rinse with water. Pour apple cider vinegar on top and rub in. Rise with water. Super easy! Super cheap! One of the greatest things you can put on hair. At first it will feel a little weird but after a few weeks hair will have a Ph level it’s supossed to be at. The baking soda is shampoo apple cider is your conditioner! Thanks!

  35. Cheryl says

    I currently put a drop or two of geranium essential oil on my dogs collar to keep the ticks off. I’ve noticed that it helps, there doesn’t seem to be as many. I picked one off of one of them last year which is a huge improvement from previous years. And that may be because I didn’t apply the essential oil soon after the last treatment dissipated. My issue is that I have a small 12 pound dog that is highly allergic to rabies and distemper so I am assuming heartworm out of the question too. I am taking her to mosquito country this summer (not a real issue here in the Rockies). Is there something I can use to keep the mosquitoes from biting?

      • Ima says

        Commenting on an old post, but for others like me who scroll through comments – I’ve found it effective to spray a bandanna with bug spray and roll that up and tie around dog’s neck. Works well at keeping bugs off their faces unless they go for impromptu swims! My dogs get all waggy when I tie bandannas on them now because they know it means we’re headed somewhere fun!.

  36. jenn says

    For those of you this don’t work for..add bee balm and lime oil or some grated lime rind to any of this mix.

  37. Britney Smith says

    Regarding the Four Thieves Repellent, do you have to use the unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or will the regular kind sold in the salad dressing aisle work?

  38. says

    Dear Wellnes Mama, I love your website! I have found it while looking for a natural insect repellent, as I was bitten badly last night by midgies in the garden. Please can you tell me whether the first repellent (the one with essential oils) keeps fresh for a while? Does it need to be stored in the fridge maybe? I wouldn’t want to make too much and ending wasting it.. Many thanks and you’re doing a great job!

  39. Danielle Jones says

    In your recipe you state 30-50 drops of oils, is that 30-50 of each oil or total ? Thanks!

  40. Heather Schroeder says

    I am thinking about making a version of the four thieves recipe for my mom’s horses. I have a four thieves essential oil, could I use the first recipe with that oil and have the same effect, or is it the steeping in vinegar that makes it so effective?

    The lotion bars seem to work really well around the horses’ eyes to keep the flies away.

    Thanks for the info!

  41. Rob says

    Any chance that adding some pure homemade castile soap would help disperse the oils in the spray bottle, much like lanolin and soap for diaper covers?

  42. Amy Rozeboom says

    Would the Four Thieves mixture work if I sprayed it on our porch every few days? We have bombarded with mosquitoes, spiders, wasps, chiggers…you name it.

  43. Kate Zehnder says

    Not sure what went wrong here. I used the recommended blend of Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus. I mixed it all up, using about 6-7 drops of each oil, and did a small skin test on my wrist. It had a light herbal scent and didn’t cause any irritation which is important because I have sensitive skin and was also planning on using it on my daughter. So I stored it in the pantry and didn’t need it until about a week later at a birthday party for my niece. So I sprayed it on my arms and legs as well as my daughters. Less then a minute later my daughter starts screaming and I realize that both of us are bright red where the spray was applied and there is a mild burning sensation. Instead of the light herbal scent there was before, there is any overwhelming smell of spicy cinnamon. I’m not sure if maybe the cinnamon got stronger as it sat, but I’d say that was probably the irritant. We had to strip down and take a cool bath (quite embarrassing at a birthday party) and take some Benadryl to deal with the inflammation and I had to borrow clothes to go home in.

      • Veronika says

        yes, cinnamon is a common pretty strong irritant, I wouldn’t suggest using it, especially under the sun.

    • Ben Dover says

      Cloves, Cinnamon, and Eucalyptus individually can be extremely irritating to the skin. When used in combination… wow!

      One must be very careful when using natural ingredients. Especially oils from trees.

      The chemicals found in plants are their self-defense mechanisms since they cannot run away from danger. They use chemicals to either attract beneficial insects and other animals, or to repel, irritate, or poison others.

    • Tia M says

      I noticed you said you stored it in your pantry. My parents pantry has a hatch that leads to above their garage, and gets considerably warmer than the rest their home. Is it possible the combination got over warm and that affected the strength of the oils?

    • Serena says

      Did you use a carrier oil? Essential oils generally need to be diluted, especially in use on children. Also, there is a science to the blending of different oils. The trick is in finding balance on a molecular level for what effect udesire…smelling good helps too:) research the different constituents that oils are comprised alcohol, sesquiterperne, ketones,etc….they all have differing uses/mechanisms of action….and will affect others effectiveness when blended incorrectly. Hope that helps:)

  44. Heather Terry Habaqe says

    Hi guys I have read all of these wonderful ideas and comments on making a natural insect (especially mosquito’s) . I also was reading elsewhere that celery seed extract has been studied and given positive results at keeping the little vamps at bay for as long as any commercial brand with out having to reapply. I cant find anywhere though where someone has an idea on how to combine an ingredient mixture for this. The site I viewed states a percentage of 25%. I don’t know what that percentage is for. Does anyone know if too much celery seed extract on skin could cause a bad reaction or possibly a base that I could use with this. I also want to include catnip eo. With any answers I will start the test project and report back with my results. Thanks in advance for any ideas, comments, and/or advice.

  45. Will Jefferson says

    Let me be perfectly clear; Four Thieves Vinegar DOES NOT WORK, do not waste your time with this recipe. It might be good for something but really sucks as an insect repellent. I made some just like the recipe said and am very frustrated with the results. I actually found a tick crawling up my leg after coming inside.

  46. Tao says

    I live in a rainforest (northern Taiwan) where the mosquitoes are ferocious. I don’t want to use chemical sprays. What I usually do is spray myself with diluted vinegar. The problem is, it’s so humid here that when you’re working outdoors, before long the sweat cleanses off the vinegar. I’m going to try your recipes. Thanks!
    PS: a hint for others who prefer to go barefoot: rub petroleum jelly all over your feet, and especially between the toes, to keep off leeches. Don’t forget the bottom of your toes, either. This really works.

  47. Jan says

    What is the best way to store this bug spray? Room temperature or fridge? Clear spray bottle or opaque bottle? Thanks so much!

  48. corina says

    I just made the spray. The liquid in the bottle smells very strong but when I spray it on the skin there’s no scent :(

  49. Jennifer Klemp Schuetz says

    Please help Wellness Mama! I made a homemade repellant last year. My friends and I used it on my patio last week and they said it worked wonderfully. I have several questions- 1. I boiled, then simmered my herbs last year and this year for a bit, (like 10-15 min) – lavender, my own bark and leaves from witch hazel tree- and whatever other herbs I had last week… some thyme, some basil. You said to boil water then put the leaves in- did I harm my concoction?

    2. the concoction I made is brown. I have more than a gallon- I plan on making several bottles of homemade insect repellant and will give to friends and family as my testers, then I plan on selling locally. When making a concoction like this- it is hard to know how much concoction to use. I covered my herbs with the water and came up with the ‘more than a gallon amount’. 3. the repellant I made from last year had brown junk at the bottom of the bottle. I stored in a blue spray bottle, and I assume that is because I did not add preservative, and well, it doesn’t last a year. There is a preservative from the website (where I ordered more essential oils from) that I used called Optiphen. Should I use this, or just make these in small quantities and say they last 3 months? (or for how long?) how many months if you are not using preservative? 4. some people use grain alcohol as a preservative. does this break down the strength of the oils/herbs that I just boiled? Last years concoction that I made had essential oils of citronella, lemon eucalyptus, and rose geranium, and the boiled herb water which was brown, and olive oil. My mix smelled pretty good compared to other sprays (burts bees for one) I have used and was also very moisturizing with the olive oil. I plan to perfect this recipe this year and have lots of chemistry questions- we need a chemistry expert here!!! Thank you!

  50. Mary Penn says

    On the mountain rose sight- there are several options for witch hazel…am I supposed to be buying “pure witch hazel extract”?

  51. Christine says

    Just made this in anticipation of a long weekend of BBQs. It smells GREAT, I hope it works as well! (I used a combo of citronella, lavender, clove, spearmint, eucalyptus and rosemary EOs)

  52. Miller says

    My 5year old dog has gotten fleas, for the first time (have allways given her garlic, but didn’t get it for sometime). So now I must deflea the house and my dog. Do you know of any safe way? Any herbal flea & flea eggs repellent/killer?

  53. Christine says

    I had to post an update – this worked so very well. Smelled great, a couple of bugs landed on me but didn’t bite, and everyone wanted the recipe because it worked way better than what you buy at the store. I’m sending everyone I know here for the recipe. Thank you!

  54. Greg says

    Where do you get vegetable glycerin? Is that the same glycerin you make desserts with? I never can find it.

  55. Kait Nurrenberg says

    Thank you!!! I usually get bitten four times in the first minute or so of being outside, but I made bug spray from dried rosemary, thyme and mint, and I used it when my family and I went to a fireworks display on the 4th. We sat on a blanket in the grass near the river, and I didn’t get a SINGLE BITE!!!! The rest of my family decided to use the commercial spray (I HATE the smell of that stuff) and ended up getting bitten! I shouldn’t feel smug about it but I kind of did :) Thank you so much for posting this!

  56. Helena Soares Travers says

    I’m going to make the essential oil bug spray and was wondering what the benefits of using the vegetable glycerin are. I know it’s optional but I’d like to use it if there’s an added benefit. Also can the bug spray be used liberally on young children.

  57. Mary B says

    I’ve been making double batches of the essential oil recipe (using tea tree oil only) and I keep it in a spray bottle near the door as our daytime repellant. I spray myself and my kids down every time we go outside. It works but must be reapplied at least every 30 minutes. I tried it once at night when we had drinks outside with house guests but we were eaten alive. We even had citronella torches burning nearby plus a citronella candle on the table. I am not sure why it only seems to work during the day; the bugs seem more ferocious at night. Insights anyone? So it appears that I need something stronger for night time. I will try the essential oil recipe with a more complicated blend of the oils mentioned by the other folk. Particularly, I will start with the “Bug Off” oil blend mentioned by someone here.

    • Tia M says

      You could try adding another essential oil. My husband makes his with eucalyptus, rosemary, and clove, and it seems to work much better than mine (which is just eucalyptus and rosemary).

    • Elaine says

      On the farm my mother kept a bottle of diluted pinesol to sprinkle on our legs before going into the pasture–very effective tick repellent, don’t know about for mosquitoes.

    • Elaine says

      Some species of mosquitoes are active in daytime, while other species are evening/night biters. You may have several species in your area.

  58. Michelle says

    I’m going to try the witch hazel one as my dad hates the smell of vinegar. I’m wondering what ratio (how many drops of each) of essential oils I can use. I have lavender, rosemary, cedarwood, rose geranium, tea tree and palmarosa. Please tell me if I shouldn’t use any of these oils, also if they’re okay to use in the sunlight, thanks.

    • Tia M says

      My husband and I each have our own 14 ounce spray bottles. We did half cooled water we’d boiled and half witch hazel, I used 30 drops of eucalyptus oil and 20 drops of rosemary. My husband made his with 50 drops as well, and did a mix of rosemary and eucalyptus with clove as well. I will say it seems the strong the oil, the better it works (his seems to work better than mine).
      The rosemary and tea tree you have should world well together, and I’ve read that lavender also repels insects.

  59. Tia M says

    We live in an apartment building, so people are always coming and going and letting bugs in (boo!) I find I’m fine during the day, then I wake up in the morning with new bites. I think I’m being attacked by mosquitoes in my sleep! Is the essential oil spray made with witch hazel safe to use on my sheets? I make my spray with eucalyptus and rosemary (if that makes a difference).

  60. Mille says

    Sad to say that after buying all the ingredients to do this and making the herb infused oil over the course of several days, this did not work for me. I ended up with 3 mosquito bites on my legs within 10 minutes outside after covering myself with this bar. :(

  61. Teresa says

    I absolutely love the peppermint and rosemary with witchhazel adding food grade glycerine. Usually I come home from my property miserable because of the pesty mesquitos and it’s hard to have company when your company has that kind of company lol.
    So I made up the concoction and put it in a spray bottle and I went to my mountain for 4 days. I only got 1 mesquito bite and even the bees stayed away (peppermint).
    Thank you for the recipe

  62. Bess says

    I’m in the process of making this before heading out for my camping trip. SO excited to have this and check out the results.

  63. kim says

    My family and I have just got back from a three week camping trip in the Pacific Northwest. We camped near the ocean, in the mountains and near some lakes. I made the Wellness Mama Bug spray with essential oils and we didn’t get bite ONCE! really not once. There was a family camping next to us by the lake were the mosquitoes were terrible and they had on conventional bug spray and got eaten alive but we didn’t get bothered by them. I love this spray and it smells great too. I even put it around our shoes and tent door at night and the ants wouldn’t go near it. This will be going with us everywhere from now on when we are outdoors! Thanks so much for the great recipes!

  64. Alayne Garcia says

    I can’t wait to try the above. I’ve been using doTERRA Breathe Respiratory Blend, which laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and ravensara cleanses. I gave it a try on my 18 month old after reading somewhere that eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon would help keep Mosquitoes away. I’ve used it a few times when taking walks in the park in the evening, I love the way it smells and that it’s natural. Especially since when I spray myself with any sort of bug spray, I don’t feel so well, and my breathing is off for a bit. Not good for me, not good for my baby for sure. So this natural recipe I can’t wait to try anything to protect my family. One question, is this safe to use at night as he has been getting bitten quite a bit recently while he sleeps.

  65. Bran says

    Thanks for this recipe! I am making my spray by adding dried calendula (I’ve got a ton), juniper berries, mint, cloves, basil, and rosemary to boiling water and letting cool in place of the plain boiled water in the first recipe. I followed that recipe otherwise, using lavender oil and vanilla extract. This is just what I have laying around, so I hope this mixture is safe and effective. I’ve got a 6 week old baby I’m trying to protect from ferocious Mosquitos on our walks but I’m worried about irritating his skin…any experience using in a newborn? I’ll just spray his clothing and stroller for now I think.

  66. Pati Lois says

    I’m wondering if this is safe near eyes. My 2yo son gets bit on the face like mad when we go camping and this last time he got dermatitis as a result of the bites, the reaction lasting more than 2weeks. I can keep the bugs off the rest of his body with clothes but not off of his face! My other concern is that he’s an eye rubber, constantly rubbing his face…

  67. Brenda says

    Thanks for saving my 3 year old grandson. He looked like he had a massive attack of chicken pox. Since he waits until evening to ride his little bike, the mosquitoes eat him alive. Now, they have to look elsewhere for dinner.

  68. Cathleen Palomino says

    Help! I tried making my mosquito repellent using distilled water, witch hazel, vegetable glycerin, and the following essential oils: geranium, clove, lavender, and citronella. I sprayed my legs and arms and sat outside and almost immediately had a couple of bees and some flies swarming me! Does anyone know which oil(s) would be attracting them? I couldn’t sit out there long enough to find out if it repelled mosquitoes for fear of being stung by bees! :-O

  69. Kari says

    Thanks for the recipes! I live in Wichita, KS, and we have a reported 200% increase in mosquito populace this simmer, due to a rare species that supposedly “hibernates” for several years at a time and multiply like crazy in their off-years, before descending upon their oblivious prey…aka ME!
    Was reading a random article from Popular Science that listed Wichita as the worst place in the US for mosquitos this year, far beyond any other. This is one list that I’d be oh-so-okay with NOT being #1- please, if anyone out there is competitive, take these vile creatures home with you. Then you can be #1, something you have always aspired to be…please? PLEASE,!!!?!

    Yours Truly,

    Being Eaten Alive xo

  70. Hard Boiled says

    Rub a dryer sheet on you and your clothes, then tuck it somewhere in your clothing. for those who like it, Skin so soft also works.

  71. Damon says

    How long do the above recipes keep? I ask because my wife gets destroyed by mosquitos and I was thinking of making these as a Christmas present.

  72. Tracey Johnson says

    well dang it summer is over now I’m all DEET up with sprays. I really thought it was safe to use duped again I see. Well I’ll be ready next spring and summer

  73. Aria says

    I personally have found lemongrass oil to work the best by far! In India they brew and steep large vats of water and lemongrass to keep away mosquitos that can bite through denim!

  74. Jaishri Vivek says

    Hi Katie, can I use it on my 6 month old? Is it safe to use on the skin?
    Sorry two more queries:
    Any substitute for witch hazel?
    How long can this be stored?
    Thanks :)

  75. Amy Carson says

    Hi Katie, I’ve been making some similar repellent sprays and body oils (longer lasting in my experience) and they are working great for me. I gave some to a friend to try today, but I realized afterward that his wife is pregnant, and most of these essential oils are conraindicated for pregnant women. My guess is that the concentration is not great enough topically to be a problem, but what do you think? Are they safe?

  76. Vicky says

    Kate, there’s Bugs at Bay on Amazon that has similar recipes for folks who don’t want an investment of essential oils. Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT — better than a cabinet full of toxic waste from the stinky aisle at the home improvement store.

  77. Alex says

    What’s the point of the witch hazel in these recipes? Can they be effective without it? I want to make an insect repellent using only native plants from New Zealand – and witch hazel unfortunately does not match the criteria.

  78. Mcvey says

    The 4 thieves formula works very well, however it is better if you use all the herbs in teas so your body has absorbed them.The best that I have come across to date.

  79. Shelby Irvin says

    Excited to try out these recipes. :)
    For a shampoo suggestion – I use a recipe of 1 part raw honey and 3 parts distilled water, with some lavender essential oil. So far it’s pretty fantastic, and has tamed my frizzy mane into lovely ringlets. It does mold after a week or two, so I make a single-use batch right before I shower.

  80. Kathryn Constantini says

    made the five thieves one, we live in thick woods where the mosquitoes eat us alive and my husband uses it most when he works on the house. He says he never gets bit. We also put some n our son and it works awesome ;)

  81. Bridgette Davis says

    Hi, are all the recipes above including the thieves recipe ok to use on my 8 month old son? Is 86% witch hazel with 14% alcohol ok to use in the recipes?

  82. Nick says

    I wonder if you would trust these if travelling where the threat of dengue fever or malaria is very real or fallback on a proven (though unpleasant) option like deet. Just apprehensive where getting bitten can be very seriously health damaging.

    • Minny says

      I worked for a year in Dengue Fever research in Thailand. My modest advice after discovering our cholera shots did not protect us and many other disturbing facts on Malaria and TB is take Mamas formula and every other
      Precaution but take one more thing…..and start it before…during….and after your trip…Jim Humble’s MMS!!! No matter what you are exposed to, you’ll be fine! Buying it is tricky, but in his on line book he gives the recipe ….you can make it in your kitchen. I would treat all water and take it systemically . Actually, I would use a Therapik from Walmart to neutralize the itch and kill ANY possible threat with MMS taken systemically .
      The greatest power of this combo is to Enjoy outdoors anywhere with NO fear.

    • Marlien says

      I have exactly the same question. Traveling to a denque fever area and was advised to use DEET. On the lookout for alternatives without citronella (I am allergic to that smell).

  83. Ieshea says

    Do you have an alternative to the lavender as just a whiff of it gives me migraines and anything physically having to do with it brings on asthma attacks,hives and so forth to having to be taken immediately in the hospital
    thank you

  84. Penny Yen says

    After all sorts of reading and research, I decided to make neem oil soap. It will stink like the dickens, but I am hoping that at least some of the neem oil will stay on my skin and keep the mosquitoes and bugs at bay. I am also waiting patiently for the summer time to see if a neem oil spray will work when I spray it on my window screens.

    A friend of mine once said that taking a garlic pill twice a day helped to keep the little annoyances away as well.

  85. elynn says

    Hi Kate,

    I would like to know for the ingredients in the natural bug spray, what can I replace with if I do not have Witch Hazel or Cider Vinegar? You mentioned that it’s for preserving purpose. If I omit that ingredient, how long can I keep the bug spray in a humid country like Singapore?



  86. Jen says

    I am really enjoying the recipes on your site (love my tooth powder!) Since you recently answered another question on this post a month ago, I’m hoping you’ll catch this comment. Someone posted a question here a long time ago about the ratios of dried herbs to essential oils. They were looking to help their horse who suffers from a midge bite allergy (the condition is commonly known as “Sweet Itch”). The horse will literally scratch their hair off in an attempt to quell the itch.

    The question was never answered, and I’m sure you are flooded with comments and questions here and can’t possibly answer every single one, but I am wondering the very same thing.

    Our Taya (an Arabian/Paint mix) suffers horribly from Sweet Itch every year, and I would love to have something to help her. Right now my only solution is to save up for a Boyette blanket to the tune of about $350, which might take me awhile to achieve. I’m all the way at the beginning of the essential oil journey, and I’ve just graduated from completely clueless to largely clueless ;o)

    That said, here’s my question: If I buy the four thieves blend, how much of it would I need to add to the vinegar to make it work?

    Thank you!

    • Kimberly says

      I hope you’ll check back and see my comment: I have a mare and my mom now has a gelding who both suffer from sweet itch. We use garlic powder that helps. You have to feed it for a bit for it to build up in their system but it works for us. Good luck! You have my sympathy in dealing with a horse who suffers from sweet itch!!

  87. Lauren says

    I’ve tried lavender essential oil, and it works really well! My son and I sat in a mosquito infested field last 4th of July to watch the fireworks, and the mosquitoes wouldn’t even land on us. Thank you so much for the other recipes, I can’t wait to try them. :)


  88. Victoria says

    Hey – I’m going to give a couple of these options a try. I’ve heard about the Thieves oil products, but I’m curious about the tincture you mentioned. Can that be ingested? I’m so new to this! I googled it a bit but need clarification. We live in Thailand and deal with so many bugs and sicknesses and it would be great to have a few options to pull out of my bag! Thank you!

  89. Dana says

    Would your essential oil bug spray recipe be safe on a newborn? My daughter is two months old and I absolutely do not want to use any chemicals on her delicate skin. Would appreciate your advice.

  90. Chandler says

    Hi there, Lovely! I just made this with 1 heaping T ea of dried lavender, dried catnip, dried spearmint, 1 heaping tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 8 oz boiling filtered water – ended with about 5 oz of “tea” to which I added 6 oz of rubbing alcohol + 20 drops each geranium EO, lavender EO, lemongrass EO. I used all organic oils and herbs. Filled qty 3 – 4oz bottles, added pretty labels, and we’re off to brave the bugs. :-) Thank you!

  91. David says

    I have had mixed success with essential oils – in Scotland we have tiny flies called Midges which are very hard to repel. We use eucalyptus smelling herb called big myrtle, but the essential oil appears to be less effective than rubbing on the fresh herb.
    What also REALLY works though is taking vitamin B1 or ideally a whole B complex, ideally a week before exposure as it build up I. Your system, comes out your pores and makes you smell (to the Mosquitos and Midges) more like a plant than an animal – I ran out of BVits half way through a Thailand holiday and the Mosquitos (which had left me alone completely until that point) suddenly started biting. I got some more B vits and within days they were ignoring me again

  92. Bess says

    I really, really want to try making the bug repellant. Would you mind letting me know how many drops you use of each essential oil in your favorite blend? I do not know much about them and I am afraid I will not make it as potent as it should be. Thanks!

  93. Tonya says

    Hello Wellness Mama,

    I stumbled upon your sight through pintrest, and im very glad i found it! I work for the forest service as a wildlife biologist, So im out in the night with a thick swarm of mosquito around me. Im also allergic to the bits since they all seem to swell up to about the size of a quarter or bigger! I had to use deet, just on my clothes, and that still barley helped! Im dying for a way to keep them off me and from biting me through my clothes. I am going to give your recipe a try, and ill let you know my results, thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Elaine says

      For those bites, I learned by accident (Grandson covered with huge red welts) that an aloe plant is worth its weight in gold for that. Tried it hoping to ease the itching–it did–furthermore the next morning he announced that the bites were gone! They were, just the tiniest dot, not itching or anything. I suspect that the gel straight from the leaf might be more effective than a commercial extract.

  94. Chanell says

    I’ve used basil leaves before, but it doesn’t last long. I’ve been looking for a way to amplify the basil, but maybe steeping it in witch hazel could work.

  95. Laura says

    None of the natural repellant swill work very well, or for very long. You have to constantly reapply them, just like any other repellent. Most of the things that supposedly work don’t.

    The best natural repellent, as I am sure everyone has heard, is to cover up as much skin as possible and try to avoid peak insect activity times.

    I agree completely that DEET is not very healthy, for people or wildlife, and should not be used on children to be safe. However, considering that millions of people have used it for decades, I don’t think the small number of people who have reported health issues is really that significant. No sense making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Recommending that people avoid using sunscreen to get more vitamin D is reckless, to say the least. Just 10 minutes a day of unprotected exposure is enough to get your vitamin D. Any more than that and you’re just putting yourself, and your children, at risk for skin cancer. Vitamin D is also found in many foods we eat and can easily be supplemented.

    As for the best natural alternative to dishwasher detergent: Hand wash your dishes. You’ll use less water, soap and hydro. Good for the environment and your wallet. There are many natural liquid dish soaps available that work extremely well.

    I’m off to mix up one of those repellent recipes now and attempt to go and finish my gardening without being chewed to pieces.

  96. Lauree Kramer says

    Hi, I am looking to make a homemade insect repellant with lemongrass, cedar, mint and citronella. Reading your directions, would it be 50 drops of each oil or total? Also, could I use coconut oil instead of witch hazel? Thanks. I’m hoping this will work for my whole family, dog and all. :)

  97. Tom McGlinn says

    Katie in your bug recipe:
    “Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!”

    You say 30 to 50 drops. Do you mean that we should add 50 drops of each to our spray bottle?

    Also, I have grapeseed oil, versus glycerin. Will that work just as well?

    Will this REALLY work on mosquitoes?

    Thank you,


  98. Dena Huff says

    I would like to try this, but I’ve always read that one should not put essential oils directly on the skin without a carrier oil (such as almond or olive). In your first recipe, you are only using water, witch hazel and essential oil. Is this safe for skin?

  99. Sara says

    I’m sorry but I just don’t have time to read thru all the comments to see if it was covered…. Will this or a variation for for bed bugs?? I’m pretty sure I just saw a bed bug on my pillow and I’m completely sick to my stomach. Thanks in advance!!!

  100. Traci Hunter says

    In your big spray recipe you mentioned that you are still looking for the perfect recipe for dishwasher soap and shampoo. If you look on for dishwasher sauce it is an amazing and super simple recipe that only uses 2 ingredients and water. It is truly amazing and leaves dishes spotless with less than one tablespoon and cost less than $2 for around 64 loads.

  101. Gemaine Ang says

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    Is Witch Hazel is must ingredients for the homemade bug spray? I am from Singapore and I could not find Witch Hazel locally.

    Can I change to rubbing alcohol instead?


  102. Todd says

    I made a variation of this recipe and it worked great for a weekend primitive camping trip in the mountains of Tennessee. We were also doing lots of heavy exercise, so I was very impressed with it’s effectiveness. The odor, despite using neem, was pleasant, and the spray was light on the skin. I will definitely continue using it. As a side note, one of my friends was using a brand-name botanical spray that used a lot of the same oils, but was obviously in a carrier oil base. I don’t think I would have liked the skin feel as much as my spray.

  103. Ollie says

    Have a flower bed with chocolate & regular mint growing.

    It is the WORST place on my property for the mosquitoes to gather.

    Can’t believe it works well in bug-spray, but am going to try making some.

    Thanks for your site.

  104. Evie says

    I didn’t read all the comments but wanted to suggest using castor oil for ticks as it is the ingredient used in the natural repellents sold in the store. I add a bit of it to the minty recipes. I’m guessing the thickness of it makes it difficult for the ticks to attach.

  105. Alisha says

    I was wondering if the Witch Hazel should be with or without alcohol? I have an alcohol free version, but was wondering if I should get the one WITH alcohol in it?

    Also- what’s your feeling about essential oils during pregnancy? I used them- but have friends that are worried….

  106. Amanda M says

    I wonder if I make a bucketful of this and spray it around my yard, if it would deter the bugs as well… Does any one know where I can even buy lemongrass to plant? I really want it around my yard.

  107. Luna says

    Is it safe to use for a 7 months old baby? Mosquitos really like him! :( And does it repell also bees and spiders?

    Thank You for a great recipe. I’m reading Your page ever since I got pregnant. I don’t want to rub my babys tummy with toxins or make him eat it… So You’ve helped me a lot :)
    Lots of love from Cracow!

  108. Tia says

    Can I make a tea out of these oils or herbs and drink it? I’m looking for a digestible mosquito repellant. They will find any non sprayed area on me to bite! I am going in and out on the farm all day and need something that will be in my system. I have tried B 1 already. Anyone heard of drinking lemon (or other citrus) infused water to keep mosquitoes away?

  109. Dee says

    I think the difference between effectiveness and non-effectiveness might have something to do with application. I’ve used the same bug spray on myself multiple times and it only works when I spray the solution in my hand and apply it to my skin. If I just spray my skin without rubbing it in, it doesn’t work as well because the coverage just isn’t there. Sprays have a tendency to be “flighty”, so it’s best to make sure it’s rubbed over the skin thoroughly. I also spray my clothes because I’ve been bitten through clothing numerous times.

    Essential oils should be used with caution because some of them are toxic in large amounts or in animals and kids. Cats, especially, are very sensitive to EOs.

    Palo Santo is a rain-forest essential oil that’s supposed to work particularly well against ticks. It’s expensive and hard to find, but worth the effort if you live in an area with a lot of ticks.

  110. Stacy says

    I would like to make a large quantity of your bug spray using your favorite blend of Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus. I will be using a 25 oz. bottle. Can you tell me the exact amounts of each oil you use? I’m making a large bottle because I have thirteen dogs and I want to use it on them and myself. Thank you! I love your site!

  111. Leah says

    Try crushed yarrow leaves. Also, the resin of pine trees helps to some degree. Gets a little sticky though. I might want to add some to the witch hazel blend. Will let you know what happened.

  112. Susan says

    One poster asked about Avon’s Skin So Soft repelling mosquitoes……did not see an answer. I would like to ask this question as well.

  113. Caro says

    i found on Wikipedia, that Glycerin under influence of heat and lack of oxigene becomes Aldehyd Propenal, which is also called Acrylaldehyd or Acrolein, and which is poisonous.
    might that also happen in my spraybottle inside my handbag at around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius?

  114. Sulah says

    Well, I am so disappointed in my experiment with a natural mosquito repellant. I added a number of the oils listed…30 drops of each…..ones that I had, witch hazel, water, glycerine oil…….even threw in some Skin So Soft for good measure and I am almost being carried away with mosquitoes……..not sure what to do now………am perplexed.

  115. ashley says

    Great article! So happy to see more people advocating herbal remedies over chemicals! I am an armchair herbalist, nutritionist, and healer, and am very well-versed in canine health. You may take note that all of these herbal formulas are highly effective for our canine companions, as well! (I don’t recommend the same strength formulas on cats, and some of these herbs are actually toxic to them so need to be researched by cat owners.) My dogs and I enjoy a bug-free Summer here in Florida, however, by both internal and external herbal use!

  116. Sara says

    I haven’t tried any of the recipes here yet, but I’m going to try them. Last year I had an outside kitty that was being eaten by mosquitoes. I looked for something to put on him, but really couldn’t find anything natural to use. Everyone said not to use essential oil products on a cat.

    His fur was coming off in patches and he was so miserable and lost so much weight, I was afraid I was going to lose him, so I mixed up a
    VERY strong batch of herbal peppermint tea, then soaked him in it. He took off and I didn’t see him for a day or two, I was afraid I had killed him, but then he came back and instead of being the center of a mosquito cloud, was free of them. He was acting more alert also.

    I only dosed him with it once, but it seemed to do the trick. I think that the other cats weren’t as bothered because they walk through a patch of mint to get on the porch.

    Usually, unless they were around Thor, the porch was free of bugs last year. I had a citronella candle out, but didn’t use it. This year, it is bug city out there. I think I’m going to go harvest some of the mint and mix up some of the recipes here.


    • Taylor says

      I don’t think that all of them are bad for cats but some of them are. I would just google what essential oils are safe for cats. That or use the spray when needed on him and just dilute the strength.

  117. Becky says

    Hi Wellness Mama,
    I would like to try the eo recipe for bug spray, but I don’t have vegetable glycerin. I am wondering would it work to use a small amount of olive oil instead? Maybe 1/2 tsp or less?

  118. Ellen Marie says

    I am making the Four Thieves insect repellent as we’re speaking! Just one question: what would 1 32 ounces of Apple cider vinegar be in grams or liters? I wasn’t sure how to convert it.
    Thanks Welness Mama! Keep up what you’re doing!

  119. Sara says

    Wellness Mama, I know several others have asked if these insect repellents are safe to use on babies, but I was wondering if they are safe to use on CLOTHING. I would like to use the essential oil recipe, but can’t afford a new wardrobe if it gets ruined while I stay (relatively) sane & unbitten. Please help!

  120. Alex Cavey says

    If you want soap detergent use soap nuts – boil them up and if you want combine them with essential oils of your choice e.g. lemon, lavender etc – can be used for washing up liquid too – they are amazing and I love them now =) Hope you give them a go!

  121. Cherie Olson says

    So I know vanilla extract works to repel bugs, but can vanilla essential oil be used instead? Or is it something to do with the fact that it is an extract?

  122. Roger Gietzen says

    Add epsom salt to prevent the essential oils from clogging the spray bottle. About 1 teaspoon for the 8oz recipe you describe is perfect.

  123. Quinta says

    Are these recipes good for fleas as well as other Lice types?
    I know Tea Tree oil is good to add into shampoo (keeps lice at bay during school season), but right now we got some random rodents or something that have brought Fleas into our home and we’re all suffering.

    However (random) I found that Salting the carpets heavily and letting it stand for a few days before vacuuming has slowed their hatch rate. But They’re using us as an escape. HELP.

  124. Durinda says

    I love all of your recipes but I’m having a big problem here in Phoenix this week with all of our rain. I get bit every time I steep outside .How can I use basil from my garden as mentioned above?

  125. Pritha Baidya says

    Hi There, What’s the shelf life of the 4 Thieves Repellent? I was hoping to make a batch that will last till next summer!

  126. Christina says

    Hello there,

    I love your blog! I come here often to find non-toxic and healthy tips for almost everything. However, I have a question about essential oils — recently, I discovered that mixing tea tree oil and lavender oil in products applied to the skin can cause young boys that have not reached puberty to grow breasts. Apparently, it disrupts the normal hormones and causes breast to grow. The NIH published an article years ago about the side effects of mixing these 2 oils together. After reading that, I started to wonder what other kinds of oils might not work well when mixed together? Can you write a blog about the basics of using essential oils? What doesn’t mix well, what doesn’t work together, what can cause hormonal disruptions? I’m a newbie with EOs, and have a lot to learn. But even though I don’t think about mixing oils together, there were a few recipes where you recommended just ‘combining a few favorite oils together,’ and I started to wonder whether the oils won’t have negative effects. Thanks!

  127. Kevin says

    I haven’t made this yet but this seems like an awesome recipe! Thanks for sharing! I think I am going to use Patchouli essential oil in this recipe along with Lavender, Cedarwood, Lemongrass and Citronella essential oils (can’t do Eucalyptus, Rosemary or Cajeput due to my high blood pressure and my son’s seizures). I read that Patchouli essential oil is also a great bug repellant, particularly for moths. Any thoughts on using Patchouli oil with this recipe? :-)

  128. Exile says

    I haven’t been bitten in years…over 30 I think since the last period was while I was pregnant. This year (2014) mosquitos must be dive bombing or searching out new sources of blood because they’ve rediscovered me and I’m getting bit on a nightly basis. So I found myself here looking for natural alternatives and have vinegar, witch hazel (great facial astringent), Listerine and will spray myself joyfully tonight hoping to rise and not itch the morrow. The only thing I’m concerned about is that my fat kitten may not appreciate the scents and find a new place to cuddle during the night. Well, an itch free Mama is better than a cranky scratching one.

  129. Danielle says

    What is the shelf life of the Thieves bug spray? I’d like to make some with home-grown herbs but it is the end of summer. Will it keep until next spring/summer?


  130. Maria says

    I volunteer at a holistic cat sanctuary. Is there anything I can use on the cats noses and ears that will repel mosquitoes? The problem is severe.

    • Roger Gietzen says


      I would only use a high quality lavender essential oil for that purpose. I’ve probably tried over a dozen different types and my favorite (and surprisingly a moderately priced option available in the US) is Wyndmere. I’m sure everyone has their own favorites and there are many good brands.
      I would first test whatever oil you use neat (or undiluted) on the cats to see how they tolerate it. A good lavender oil can be put directly on skin and doesn’t burn (avoid placement near the eyes). If they do well with it, then you know its safe.

      I can imagine using essential oils for this will get expensive though. You may also consider making some homemade mosquito traps, such as these:

      Take care,

  131. Danielle says

    How many times a day is better to apply these natural repellents? (I combined the water with the dried herbs {cinnamon, neem, peppermint}, alcohol and tree oil.)

  132. Alex says

    Any ideas for making a mosquito cream? I’ve found natural creams work better than sprays, but I’ve struggled to get a natural emulsion to work and not be clumpy.

  133. Kirsten says

    Be sure to educate very, very well before using oils on small children and use proper dilution. There are also so many that are not appropriate for children, as well as pregnant and nursing moms. I’m much more careful than I used to be.

  134. Charlotte says

    Hi there, I am headed to India and I am using your recipe – I planned on using lavender, tea tree and citronella but i read somewhere that white camphor would be good too. Do you think it’s okay to mix the 4?

    Also, I purchased glycerin which says ‘Glycerin BP 100% v/v (E422)’ on the bottle – the pharmacist said it was vegetable but I can’t seem to find out – any ideas?!

    Love your site :)

  135. joe says

    There’s an awsome mosquito repellant I learned in…believe it or not…prison.
    1 clove of garlic.
    1 sprig of fresh sage (Ive also seen wild onion used with some success)
    1 bottle of baby oil.
    Rubbing alcohol.

    Combine the garlic, clove and baby oil in a blender until it is completely pureed. Strain out the remaining bits. Fill whatever bottle you are using 2/3rds full with the mixture then top it off with rubbing alcohol. Mix well.
    Can be sprayed on skin or rubbed in like a lotion. Not only does it work but you have the added benefit of smelling like garlic toast for the rest of the day!

  136. Laura says

    I was wondering if the essential oils bug spray would be effective if you are going into homes of people who you know have bed bugs? I am a home visitor and it is my job to visit families even when or if they are known to have bed bugs. I would be in their homes for about an hour once a week and I would like to protect myself from picking up a bug and causing an infestation at my own home. any advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you,

  137. Gladys says

    I can’t find Witch Hazel or Rubbing alcohol, when I asked for those the pharmacy gave me Spirit with 95% alcohol, is it the correct thing?

  138. Rebekah says

    Spraying vanilla on my kids did absolutely nothing and they ended up getting welts from mosquito bites. The eo sprays do work.

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