All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work!

How to make natural bug spray in about five minutes

Every year as warmer weather approaches, I make several homemade products for summer including my homemade sunscreen and these homemade bug spray recipes.

I don’t use sunscreen often because it limits Vitamin D production and I prefer to eat my sunscreen instead. This homemade bug spray recipe on the other hand, unfortunately gets daily use where we live!

Why Homemade Bug Spray?

wellness mama natural bug spray recipeAt 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 scratching mosquito bites, keeping them away is a top 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. It 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. (Some of our other favorites to make instead of buying are deodorant and toothpaste).

This recipe 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.

5-Minute Essential Oil Bug Spray Recipe

This recipe uses essential oils, which are highly effective, but there are some concerns about putting these directly on the skin, especially on children.

Which Essential Oils Repel Mosquitos and Other Insects?

I prefer to use this recipe on clothing or gear instead of directly on the skin. Any combination of these Essential oils will work: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Geranium, Lavender, Mint.

Homemade bug spray recipes that really workAll of those have insect and mosquito repelling properties, and I’ve included the mixture I use below. For this recipe I use 100 drops of essential oil total with a mixture of various oils. If you don’t have one, you can leave it out or use a mixture of the others in its place.

To save time, I’ve also just used a pre-mixed kid-safe essential oil blend that are formulated to repel insects in place of the other oils in the recipe below. If you’d rather not DIY, Badger also makes a great natural bug spray with essential oils.

Homemade Bug Spray Ingredients

Homemade Bug Spray Instructions

  1. Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
  2. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using. This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined.
  4. Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.

DIY Bug Spray Recipe Variations

Natural bug sprays can also be made without essential oil using dried herbs and witch hazel or vinegar. This recipe is typically considerably less expensive, though it is also not as potent as the recipe above.

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.

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Instructions

  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.

TIP: If you have the time and want to make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.

Vinegar 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

Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent Instructions

  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.

Other Simple Insect Repelling Ideas

  • Use a non-toxic, plastic-free insect-repelling band (I love this one), which is easier to use on children and very effective.
  • 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.
  • Plant insect repelling herbs in your yard. I grow lavender, thyme, mint and citronella near our patio and we use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch.
  • 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.

Store Bought Natural Insect Repellent Options

There are now also some good natural insect repellent options available to purchase if you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand or want a simpler solution. Some of the ones that I have personally tried and liked are:

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. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • Neem Oil will de-nature in water and become ineffective in less than 24 hours, so unless you are making this mixture for a one time application applied immediately that could have been some of the problem. Swap coconut oil for the water and alcohol and you should have a very effective solution against several types of mosquitos. studies have shown that Coconut oil + Neem can be very effective:

            A 1995 study at a field station the Malaria Research Centre in Ranipur, Hardwar, India, tested a mix of 2% neem oil mixed in coconut oil.?? Applying that mixture to the skin provided significant protection from various mosquitoes. It worked best against anophelines, offering 96-100% protection (The malaria transmitting anopheles mosquitoes fall into this group). The numbers for other species were 85% for Aedes (carries dengue fever), 61-94% for Culex spp. (can carry West Nile virus) and 35% for Armigeres.

          • Thanks for the clarification Brad, I know it’s trial and error to get it right with the naturals. I am anxious to try this recipe! Thanks for Sharing!!!

          • Neem must be 20% of the solution. I used 80 % coconut oil. then add oils. Worked fabulouslu inthe amazon jungle. Not one bite. Another secret is that you have to use the neem 10 or more days prior to exposure. I also put dmso in mixture. Dmso can be very dangerous, so do your research.

          • I used a mixture of 30 drops of mint and 20 drops of coconut and it smells amazing. It works for the gnats that were bothering me at night!

          • I use Terrashield blend . Pour entire 15 ml bottle in 4 oz sprayer bottle. Fill with good water. This is ur mosquito spray. Work great 4 my fam. Reapply every 2 hrs. $15 bottle Terra shield from doTERRA.

      • The quality of essential oils can be determined by scientific analysis. I’ve added 2 links that describe industry standards and testing and address modern marketing of essential oils.
        Every reputable brand will post their testing standards and results. Being an informed consumer is vital to understanding the difference between marketing terminology and quantifiable standards.
        Cost is not an indicator of quality.

        • Way back in early 2001 when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was advised to take 4-5 drops of neem oil every day ,this is what I noticed from fourth day onwards ,if any mosquito stung me ,it was allowed to go and after flying for a distance less than a feet,it would drop down like a shot down helicopter,and after one week the mosquito’s would not come near me, probably due to neem smell in my sweat

          • Do you know why you were advised to use Neem as a diabetic? Outside of mosquitos what was the benefit for you?

          • Being diabetic one is prone to boils and and infections for which neem was recommended

          • Were can I buy neem oil


          WAY too many people are sucked in by the THERAPEUITC GRADE and other supposed alphabet soup of letters that EO’ companies use to make one think they are the best qualified!! Please folks do your research! These links are right on!! The THERAPUTIC GRADE was coined by two companies back in the mid 1990s. So misleading. This one link above alone is a gold mine of information!

          Thank you!

          • Thank you. I know of two companies that use that term. I refuse to use them because of this.

      • Its amazing isn’t it as both those companies are now under investigation by the FDA or something like that … it shows the oils work as the FDA is acting on shutting them down or something like that….. makes me mad that the government and big pharms corps won’t allow us to use natural alternative medicines in place of the poisons they feed us ……… Thankyou Wellness Mama for providing honest healthier alternative remedies etc truly appreciated…. also would love some more information regarding this topic ( I didn’t think it contained any propaganda – if it does I understand if you edit or delete this comment) Sincerely Bel

        • If you’re referring to two EO companies being sued, it’s because they are giving health advice such as ingesting oils and applying undiluted, which is dangerous. They are also not certified aromatherapists. A company cannot make health claims, like they do, without FDA approval. This is for the safety of everyone, not because they are trying to deter people from using EOs.

          • I beg to differ with you about the safety concerns of the FDA.
            More people are coming around to the fact and they now understand our government and its branches can no longer be looked at as benevolent. We the people have the intelligence to self diagnose and self administer natural herbs and supplements way better then the FDA can tell us what to do or not do.
            The medical Doctors only get one hour of natural supplement training in school, and they cannot sell or prescribe natural supplements from their offices or they are fined 250k and possible four weeks imprisonment
            Anyone who is the least interested in natural healing can google, pickup a natural book form there natural health and vitamin store or ask a natural path assistant at one of these stores.
            The beauty of natural products is there is on clinical evidence or written factual docs. of someone dying from taking natural vitamins and supplements. Stories are just that, stories.
            There are hundreds of examples why the FDA can not be trusted or should ever be the factually one source of a persons decision making health process.
            Here is one small ex: The FDA sells itself to food manufactures like General Foods etc.
            Because mothers think the government is trying to help, they believe the FDA seal of approval means their children are getting a healthy cereal.
            For good marketing practices and profits the FDA sells their stamp of approval for $12,500.00.
            We all know this simple fact, I hope, the liver converts raw sugars and carbs to glucose that is directly taken to the brain, because without GLUCOSE the brain would stop functioning.
            But, it must go through the process- raw sugar, transformed by the liver to glucose then to the brain.
            White processed sugar (cereals are full of it) skips the liver and goes directly to the brain, it is pure poison to the brain, causing erratic behavior in the child, making wrong neurotransmitter connections and killing off brain cells etc. etc. this is what the government branch called the FDA believes is good for your beautiful child’s growing young brain.
            And I am sure even though the head of the FDA used to be the CEO of big pharma that they would not on purpose allow all this white processed sugar into the American food markets.
            Bu , when the side effects from this poison sugar gets to the doctor from the teacher who can’t handle her students.
            Then all doctors put the children of America on ritalin making billions for big pharma and keeping the industry flourishing on the tears of many parents having their hopes and dreams for their child dashed because of the side effects of ritalin.
            There is no theory in conspiracy. Follow the $$$$$$$$. It’s time for truth.

      • How did you use the cedarwood?
        I’m really interested

      • What is the Essential Oil ratio if the recipe calls for 2 tbs of each of the dried herbs?

    • I have heard that rubbing fresh Bay Leaves on skin works well.

      • Bay leaves are scattered in trailers and park models in AZ when people leave after the winter is over to keep bugs out. We tried it this winter for the 1st time so we’ll see.

    • 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.

      • 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

        • Rubbing alcohol is a general term rather than a specific ingredient. While it is generally agreed that synthetic chemicals tend to have a negative health effect; one must always read label. The na For example ethyl alcohol(beer alcohol) + water is the original form of rubbing alcohol as are mixtures like 70% isopropanol in water , ethyl alcohol/methyl acohol/water or ethyl alcohol/water + some poisonous ingredient (to make it undrinkable). Simple ethyl alcohol soultions are no longer available due to misuse/abuse. The safest available form is the isopropanol/water solution

        • Melissa, “studies have shown” that this plant that lives right in your backyard is making your young boys grow titties. Sponsored by_________

          Studies have shown–oh so you have first hand knowledge? Ohp, it was just the deodorant. This sounds like total BS to me. You are either pumping out wrong information and scaring people away from SAFE, NATURAL HERBS, or you are just one of those people who believe what you read to scare you from a propoganda website and know nothing yourself.

          The hormones and all of the plastics that are in the foods and the combination of unhealthy people breeding is making you a bunch of girly looking boys. More chocolate milk? Yum, antibiotics and hormones. Oh yeah there’s definitely no chemicals in anything you eat or drink or breathe, it’s definitely not that……………………………………………………………………

          • Was it necessary to be so rude?

          • The study was conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine. Here is a link to the study: While herbs and oils are natural in their origin, when used medicinally, they have effects on the body that we must be wise, thoughtful and knowledgeable about. I use oils with care and research them prior to use to be aware of side effects and interactions with other drugs, same as I do with any western medicine I use. Lavender interacts with a medication I take, causing a sedative effect and I sleep too many hours. I still use it for burns and to soothe mosquito bites, but in small quantities.

          • Wow!! I am very opinionated about the toxins in our food and so many other things, I also am a nurse and KNOW that just because something is “all natural” does not make it safe. Arsenic is natural too but is toxic and deadly; yet research is being done in the UK on the affects it has on certain types of cancers. People need to begin treating essential oils as medication, they can be just as strong, or in some cases stronger then some pharma meds on the market and should not be used lightly by people who decide to be “home drs”. If you are using “home remedies” or essential oils you need to be very knowledgeable, because yes, boys can end up with gynomastia, girls can end up having issues of lactation, or can cause a disruption in their ovulation and can cause infertility… not all of the answers are there yet, and unless you have had 8-12 yrs dedicated to learning by someone educated in EXACTLY this you do not have a right or any business being so rude to anyone on this blog. Shame on you and quit locking your brain in a bottle… LITERALLY! Essential oils are chemicals and medications and should be given the respect they are due. In Indian culture there are medicine men that are given the gift of being a medicine man by God, or it is passed from one elder medicine man to a younger man that is “shown to him in a vision”; depending upon which creed of Indians you talk to. There are many differences between the groups. They understand the power of what we have been given to use and that is should be respected not used by just anyone. Seriously get your attitude in check and let those educated in homeopathic remedies, including essential oils guide you. A couple classes from a company does not qualify anyone in full or safe use because they don’t know the person’s full medical history, other meds they are taking and who should never be given certain things; because you could be prescribing something to someone and cause a thrombosis, or the opposite for their already thinned blood from a rare genetic bleeding disorder to thin even more and they could hemorrhage in a simple accident. You don’t even know what you don’t know…..

          • I agree with Katie. I just took a class on medicinal herbs and was told that many of the pharmaceuticals used today are based on the chemical makeup of herbs. That being said, I would use any herb or natural item with caution because one can never know if something is safe for us or if we have an allergy to it. Being natural does not automatically mean it is safe.
            Just look at Soy. It is both beneficial and yet has side effects.

        • There are many varieties of lavender…lavenders angustifolia does not have hormonal properties

      • We thought rubbing alcohol would be drying as well as a problem if people thought they could drink
        it, we used vodka or ever clear. Both work great with the herbs and it also mixes will with the carrier oil. In our mixture we used whole cloves in the alcohol and mixed it twice a day for 4 days. At the end of 4 days, strain the large pieces of cloves out and add the oil. Just a few drops will do a great job with
        mosquitos so far for us! I would like to hear from anyone else who has tried this formula.

        • Yes, clove solution works very well against flying pests, fleas, and ticks.
          After straining the cloves I toss them under our porch and deck…keeps mosquitoes away for awhile!

        • Hi shay,
          Hw many cloves per oz? And what oil needs to be added? And is this solution for application or spray in room?

        • I also did the cloves soaked in vodka for 2 days. Strained it, added pure vanilla extract, peppermint extract, & a little witch hazel. I made it a few times & used it all summer, & will definitely do it again next summer. The scent was wonderful as well.

        • Hi Shay. Would you mind posting this exact recipe? How much alcohol, how many cloves, what kind of oil? Thank you

        • What were your liquid amounts? Oil, alchol?

      • What about witch hazel?

    • 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.

      • Recipe please can’t find anything to work on horse flies for more than 5 mln i do a lot of riding stopping to spay is a pain

        • I decided to experiment with the baby oil and vanilla extract. I found that a mixture of creamy baby oil, vanilla extract and a little bit of water works great. I had approximately 1/2 bottle (5 OZ) left of the cheap dollar tree creamy baby oil . I added 2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract (pure), and 5 Tablespoons of water. I applied it like a lotion, and the only places I get bit is where I forget to put it! I got tired of smelling like a baby, plus the mixture was too heavy for my skin, so once the mixture I already had made was down to about 3 OZ, I added another 5 T of water, 2 Tablespoons of artificial vanilla extract (pure extract gets pricey) and 10 drops of Lavender essential oil, and it still works great (and smells better). If you can afford the pure Vanilla Extract, it would be best to use it, as the artificial vanilla extract can irritate your skin.

      • Recipe please?

      • could you please supply me with the recipe that contains the proper measurements
        Thank You

      • Could you send me the amounts of each ingredient please

      • What amounts do you use of each to so fantastically effective?!

    • We use water and peppermint oil and it works great!:)

      • Angela Wood, how much peppermint oil do you mix with the water? I just used it straight and that was a bad idea. Please advise! thanks. Margie

    • The mosquitos were so bad here a few weeks ago I had to cover my mouth and nose to keep them out and should have had goggles to keep them out of my eyes!, but they didn’t bite (at least were I sprayed, sure wish I had remembered my ankles LOL). I used a combination of lemon/eucalyptus oil 20-50 drops to 4 oz. water and 1 tsp. alcohol. Also shake it good before you use it each time. Good luck

    • Hey wellness mama I have a 13 month old boy he had an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite I want a solution that is natural that will be safe for him. I read below not to use lavender and Teatree oil because it will mess with boys….

    • I use allot of catnip for EVERYTHING is a great Herb

    • I work with mosquitos, and have heard from various colleagues that vinegar is actually an attractant to mosquitos. Now, this is with just regular vinegar, so I’m not sure how different Apple cider vinegar reacts with them, but just a little food for thought.

    • I like to add Rose Geranium to my spray to stop ticks. Apply every 2 hours.

      • Where do you get rose geranium? I have been looking for it

    • Agreed! I’d rather go with a proven method when the alternative is potentially lime disease. If you don’t live near areas with disease carrying bugs, perhaps a few bites are worth the risk.

    • I live in Arkansas where ticks and chiggers are a big problem in the woods, and I cut a lot of firewood. What I have the best results with is Avon skin-so-soft with a few drops of patchouli oil mixed in for my skin, long sleeved light colored shirt, pants with duct tape around ankles, and heavy DEET on my boots, pant legs, and shirt sleeves.

    • Vinegar does not work on skin for mosquito, it does the opposite. Instead use smoke sticks in combination with extract menthol based herbs.

  2. 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. 

    • I have a lot of oils for making hard candy, can they be used inplace of the oils you mentioned?

      • As a candy maker myself, I would say no. The candy oils are not the same as the essential oils used for homeopathic purposes.

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

    • I use Bragg’s vinegar it keeps them off and also stops my bites from itching if i happen to forget to spray myself w the vinegar. It stinks till its dry but its worth it. Also when I eat tons of garlic be it powder, fresh ,dry minced or tablet supplement they stay away…but sometimes when you get real hot you can smell it. Good Luck.

  3. where do you get the ingredients? I’m moving to LaCrosse too! 

    • @ 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!

    • Can you still mix the 1st recipe w/out veg. glycerin? I do not have that.

      • You can get the vegetable glycerin at walmart for around $4.00; it’s located in the pharmacy section.

        • Hello, This may seem like a strange question but is needed in my case. I wonder if these essential oils will work on dogs?

          • I have a friend who uses essential oils for her dog. Just google “essential oils for dogs for fleas, ticks, ear infection, etc.”, whatever application you’re curious about.

          • YL actually has a line of products for pets. My daughter uses peace and calming from YL on her high strung dog.

  4. 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. 

    • you can buy witch hazel at any local pharmacy or even Walmart or Meijer

  5. 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

  6. We are going up the Amazon, will this bug spray be strong enough for there

    • I’d probably increase the amount of essential oils for a trip like that… sounds like fun!

      • 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!

        • What kind of bug spray solution did you make, i am going to asia in one week please give me also the measurements thanks a bunch,

      • 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!

      • 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!

      • I made my own insect repellent from things i read here. I put thyme, rosemary and two different types of mint in boiling water and let it sit with the top on and then added which hazel. What color should it be? Mine is kind of dark but now dark brown and os rosemary safe for my 4month old? Im breastfeeding her and ive read that i shouldn’t eat rosemary but can i put it on hers and mine skin? Please reply

  7. 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.

    • 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.

      • Why would you use basil when the bugs love my basil?

  8. 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!

    • A company by the name of Smellz Good makes 4T-Thieves oil if you do not want to make it yourself. And it is cheaper than YL, and works great!

  9. 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! : )

    • Listerine is actually thyme oil.

      • I am making bug sptay for the homeless folks in the area. Very interested in the Listerine formula. What is in listerien that makes it work? Thank you in advance.

        • Had NO luck with listerine. Sprayed all over my horses and right after the mosquitoes still landed fir dinner. And they were horribly sticky!

          The oil mixtures will be expensive to get started, esoecially if you get the good ones. Maybe you can find people to donate specific oils to your project?

          I did an n oil mixture of 20 drops citronella, 15 drops eucalyptus, and 10 drops teatime with another 10 of clove. Shaken n into 8oz water filled spray bottle. Worked well on both me and horse, but only for mosquitos not flys.

          I’ll use the ideas on here to make a mix of stronger oils plus the vinegar and an oil base.

  10. 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!

    • On the skin, these are all safe for kids, just don’t let them ingest! 🙂

      • Actually, the safety of these oils vary depending on the age of kids. You cannot/should not use Eucalyptus oil on children under 10, for example.

  11. Hello, I was wondering does this  bug spray help against ticks too? We have them a lot here in the parks.

    • It will deter them but won’t completely protect like a tick spray would.

      • Well, do you have tick spray too? 🙂

  12. I have difficulties finding witch hazel here. Is there anything I can replace it with?

    • technically, vodka or another hard alcohol would work…

      • so then rubbing alcohol would work as well?

      • what if you can’t use alcohol of any kind… would distilled white vinegar work?

    • I got it at Walmart.. most drug stores carry it. It’s very inexpensive. Find it along with their alcohol and cotton swabs and bandages, etc..

    • Witch Hazel COLD on cotton is also good for hemhroids. If you are lazy about this, Tufts is the same and obtainable in Walmart and any drug store

      • TUCKS, not TUFTS

    • WitchHazel, and most organic, pure essential oils are available through Amazon, and Mountain Rose Herbs, and several other sites. Locally, you can look for a natural/holistic grocery store, or a local herbalist in your area. There are many of us around now . **Also most herbs are fine for children , you will be using them in a mild carrier oil, an=s well as a semi dilution with water, or vinegar. try a small spot on the first. When using essential oils, be sure they 100% pure essential from an Organic source, or you defeat the purpose of a “natural” remedy . these will also be diluted and used in a carrier oil,or vinegar,or water for children.
      Herbal / Natural cures and remedies are specific to the person, f it does not work for you , try another combination. Herbals target your specific body systems needs… it’s not 1 size fits all. *** Please never give up finding your synergistic herbal matches !!!***

      • Do you have an essential oil brand that you recommend? Aura Cacia is available at most the places near me, and I was wondering if their oils would be sufficient for something like this? And do you have a favorite bug repellent recipe? 🙂 Thanks!

  13. 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.

    • 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..

  14. 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.

    • It is, with a hold comparable to most regular hold store brands. It’s very cheap to make!

  15. 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.

      • 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.

    • Thank you for this tip! I’ve had Geranium sitting in my essential oils drawer for a while but never thought of it. Been trawling the net for a natural tick repellent for my dogs and my tea tree bug spray doesn’t seem to be working. Recently added geraniums in my garden.

    • Citronella is a member of the Geranium family.

    • How would you use the Geranium Oil? sounds interesting. thanks, -con

    • How would you apply the geranium oil, ie directly on the dog’s coat or diluted and sprayed on? Thanks!

    • I think it’s actually “rose geranium” essential oil that is used for ticks.

  16. How long will the dried herb bug spray keep in the fridge? 

    • Mine has lasted since last summer and still looks/smells good in the fridge.

  17. 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.

    • Pennyroyal is toxic to horses, they say…

  18. What brand and where do you purchase witch hazel? Thanks 🙂

    • Walmart and most drug stores carry it.  It is usually near the rubbing alcohol, peroxide type stuff.  It’s used as an astringent.

      • I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs (in my resources section) but many local stores should carry it too…

  19. 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?

    • Hydrosol’s are how you’ll want to make flower water that doesn’t spoil quickly thigh you will still want to refrigerate it. You need a big stock pot, heat proof bowl, a lot of ice, lid and your chosen flowers. Something to keep the bowl above the water is also needed. You can use a stone or something similar.
      Put the stone in the pot, put in your flowers then cover them with water to just around the top of the stone. Put your bowl on top of that where it will catch your flower water. You will put the lid on upside down with the handle inside. You will put ice cubes on top of the pot. The will cause the stream, which is what you want to catch, to condense on the lid, roll to the center and drip into the bowl.

      You will want to bring the water up to a simmer during this process, make sure it doesn’t boil or the water in the pot will mix with your flower water. Try not to take the lid off much during the process. Can take anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes depending how much you want to make and you may have to replace you ice. Be careful not to spill it into your center bowl.

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

    • These oils should be safe externally even for children or while nursing though you could half the amounts and it would still work pretty well

      • 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

        • Even if you halve the amount-no dose has been deemed safe at this juncture.

  21. 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. 

  22. 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?

    • You should smell something… Probably add more oils

      • Hello,does the smell go off after awhile? Does it mean it is no longer effective? I put in quite a lot of YL oils so would expect it tolast but the smell goes off quite quickly.

  23. 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.

    • Does that keep more than just mosquitos away? 😉

      • I’ve tested with mosquitos, fleas, knats, sweat bees, etc and it works on those

        • Are you suggesting that white vinegar by itself is just as effective as a mosquito repellent as some of the above recipes?


    • I think I will try this on the grass for the barbecue parties with a spray bottle. Undiluted white vinegar is easy enough. Thanks.

      • Vinegar will kill the grass

    • With the white vinegar can u add a essential oil(s) to it??

  24. Could I use peppermint instead of mint for this??

  25. how long can the spray be stored?

  26. 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!!!!

    • 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

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

    • 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.

      • in my experience so far, catnip oil works wonders

    • When you say the recipe above, which recipe are you referring to?

    • There are so many recipes on here now , which one works for you and your dogs?

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

    • 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.

  29. 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!!!

    • Just helps it need less shaking. You can definitely omit without a problem, just shake really well before using.

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

    • 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.

  30. Which one is safest for a baby? I have a 7month old

    • Babies shouldn’t be sprayed with anything because their skin is so thin and sensitive. Essential oils cannon irritate sensitive skin. Jusr keep babies inside if the bugs get bad.

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. How long do you recommend leaving the fresh herbs steeping in the water for? thanks! 🙂

  34. 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)

    • Thanks! I’ll experiment with those 🙂

  35. Can i spray this on my clothing and on my clothes in my dresser to keep bugs out as well? thanks.

    • Yes, just be careful on light colored clothing.

  36. Do you use your bug spray indoors? Has it worked well for you?

    • I’ve used it indoors and out and it works great!

  37. 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!

  38. How long do these home made bug repellants last (in fridge and on the counter)??

  39. How long do these last on the counter? expiration date?

  40. Can I use this to repel bugs from my garden?

    • Neem oil is considered a great insecticide for the garden

      • 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.

  41. 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

  42. 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!!!!!!

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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! 🙂

  46. 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!

  47. 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.

  48. What do you think about Avon skin so soft bath oil? I have read that it is non-toxic.

  49. Basil in the garden doesn’t keep insects away…June bugs love, love, LOVE the leaves for their own consumption.

  50. 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!

    • Please how much extract & water did you use? (Ratios?) I want to try lavender & vanilla. Maybe use it as a body & room spray too. Do you think I need to add something else too?

  51. 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!

  52. 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?

    • Try the vinegar recipe above and just spritz on her fur

      • 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!.

        • Oh thanks..definitely going to try that!

  53. What is the purpose of the vegetable glycerine in the first recipe?

    • I was wondering same thing.

        • Thanks! Being new to all this (but really loving it!), I have a lot to learn. I so appreciate your help!

  54. 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.

  55. 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?

  56. 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!

    • It should stay fresh for a few months at least…

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

  58. could you please tell me how many drops of each oil you use please

  59. 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!

  60. 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?

  61. i just made your recipe. I hope it works bc the mosquitos love me!

  62. 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.

      • Using the oils, would it be useable immediately or would you still let it steep for 2-3 weeks?


  63. 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.

    • That is strange… I”ve never heard of that type reaction. Have you ever used cinnamon before?

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

    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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:)

    • I wonder the same thing as Serena… you didn’t mention any kind of carriers for the oils, like water, vodka, or vinegar. If you used undiluted oils, I can see how that could be a severe irritant.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

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

    • Opaque bottle is best and fridge or room temp…

      • If you do not have an opaque bottle, cover your bottle with, what else, Duct tape.

  68. 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 🙁

  69. 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!

    • I’d make sure to use dried herbs and adding alcohol is fine as a preservative, or witch hazel works well too…

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

  71. 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)

  72. 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?

    • diatomaceous earth. it’ll make a bit a a mess, but it works.

  73. 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!

  74. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom 🙂

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

    • I found it at WalMart in the pharmacy department near alcohol & peroxide.

  76. 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!

  77. 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.

    • It helps the ingredients stay mixed so you don’t have to shake as much.

  78. 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.

    • 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).

    • 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.

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

  79. 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.

    • 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.

  80. 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).

  81. 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. 🙁

  82. 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

  83. 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.

  84. 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!

  85. Well, I am trying now by boiling thyme, rosemary and basil, dried. Thanks ES 8/1/13

  86. 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.

    • Eucalyptus in Highly dangerous to young children respiratory systems particularly under 12 mths- like you dont use it in avaporiser.
      be super cautious with baby – different mix than adult, their skin is way more sensitive and they can rub in the eye,

  87. 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.

  88. 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…

  89. 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.

  90. 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

  91. 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

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

    • They keep but I don’t know about for longer than six months. Could you assemble the ingredients in a gift basket for Christmas?

      • that’s not a bad idea, then make the spray in the spring.

  94. 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

  95. Hello! I wanted to ask how long the bug spray lasts indoors and is it effective against roaches?

  96. 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!

  97. 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 🙂

  98. 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?

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

    • Yes, it just helps preserve. Apple cider vinegar works too but doesn’t smell as good.

  101. 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.

  102. 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.

  103. 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 😉

  104. 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?

  105. How do I store four thieves bug repellant and when would it expire?

  106. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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).

  107. Hello
    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

  108. 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.

  109. 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?



    • You could also use an alcohol (like vodka) or something else with a longer shelf life

  110. 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!

    • 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!!

  111. 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. 🙂


  112. Are all the ingredients for the bug repellent safe to use during pregnancy?

  113. 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!

  114. 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.

  115. 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!

  116. 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

  117. I am a mosquito magnet as well. Rub a dryer sheet on your skin. Seems to work for me…

  118. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother or just the average grocery store kind? Thanks!

  119. 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!

  120. 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!

    • 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.

  121. I want to learn more about healthy eating for my family and me.

  122. 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.

  123. 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.

    • Hand washing dishes is not the solution. Your kitchen hot water faucet will never get as hot as as a dishwasher. Furthermore, dishwashers made today use LESS water, HOTTER water, and LESS electricity.

  124. 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. 🙂

  125. 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,


  126. 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?

  127. 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!!!

  128. 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.

  129. 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?


  130. Pennyroyal is poisonous! Don’t rub it on your skin!

  131. 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.

    • Can you post the variation that you made using Neem oil, please/thanks!

  132. 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.

  133. I see a lot of remedies for dogs and fleas. Do you have one for cats and fleas?

  134. 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.

  135. 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….

  136. 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.

  137. 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!

  138. 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?

    • i have heard if you eat a lot of garlic that works

  139. 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.

  140. Thanks for sharing this! I’m going to get started on it really soon.

  141. 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!

  142. 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.

  143. 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.

    • I remember my mom used Avon SSS exclusively and never had trouble with bites.

    • I have used 1 part Skin So Soft(SSS), 1 part vinegar, 3 parts water in a spray bottle and had great results repelling mosquitos, gnats, and yellow flies. You’ll need to shake and mix the water/oil ’til it’s milky. A light spraying rubbed in well is all you need. If you spray your fingers you can apply it around sensitive areas like your eyes. It will absorb into the skin and doesn’t feel oily because the water thins it out.

  144. 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?

    • I don’t think it would get nasty, but when in doubt, err on the side of caution.

  145. 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.

  146. So many plugs for Wal-Mart on this site. Doesn’t that go against everything NATURAL???

    • I’ve haven’t shopped at Wal-Mart in years, and don’t personally recommend that anyone else does either 🙂

      • Wellness Mama;
        Love your site!
        I’ve been making this spray with Cedar wood and Clove EO. I read so much contradictory advice regarding safety for pregnant/nursing moms.
        Do you have any advice?

        • My feeling is that if you are uncertain, you should ask your doctor, and when in doubt, better safe than sorry.

  147. Hi, can I use fresh herbs to make the Four Thieves concoction?

  148. 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!

  149. Do you have to use vegetable glycerine or could you substitute with grapeseed oil?

  150. Do you know if Lemon Myrtle EO would work?

  151. 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.


    • 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.

  152. 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?

    • I’d be careful… it might attract your variety of local bugs! The glycerin is totally optional, so you might try it without.

  153. Ok, thanks for the reply!

  154. 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!

    • You’d want to use liters for liquid volume.

  155. 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!

    • I’ve never had trouble when using them on clothing, and most essential oils evaporate completely clear and without leaving residue.

  156. 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!

  157. 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?

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

  159. 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.

  160. Hello,
    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?

  161. 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!

  162. 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!

  163. 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? 🙂

  164. 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.

  165. 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?


  166. Could I use rubbing alcohol in place of the witch hazel?

  167. 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.

    • Maria,

      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,

  168. 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.)

  169. 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.

  170. 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.

  171. 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 🙂

  172. 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!

  173. is this safe to use on cats?

  174. Hi,
    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,

  175. 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?

      • Hi, Wellness Mama!
        I have recently discovered there are 70% and 90% (or 95%) strengths of rubbing alcohol – and apparently the 70 is gentler for applying to skin, as the 90 is a bang-up cleaning solvent! Any personal experience?

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

  177. so what is the best solution, herbs or oils?? Kind of don’t know which way to go..

    • That’s how I feel, Robyn–overwhelmed by the choices and paranoid that I won’t choose the BEST one! 🙂 I am also wondering about combining elements from the different recipes to make a hybrid recipe. Would the essential oil recipe be even more effective if made with the ACV?

  178. Thank you. I will try this. I do have to disagree with using lemongrass however. It is also wonderful for the hair so I put some in my hair in the morning. Later that day I had to attend an outdoor soccer game and my head was being swarmed by bees. They were getting stuck in my hair. I had to leave at half time.

  179. I have been making your “favourite” blend of this for my family and friends with young children (under 2). I recently read online that lemongrass, eucalyptus, cajeput and clove are all on the safety list for avoiding under the age of 2 and some for under the age of 6. This has me concerned all of a sudden. We have not had any reactions, but I want to know what all the hype is about? Is the concern mainly regarding direct inhalation in undiluted form and topical use in undiluted form? I find lemongrass the most effective of the essential oils, so I don’t see this working as well if I were to avoid all those on the list. Your opinion is appreciated Thanks.

    • I’ve always found that those should not be used undiluted on the skin or used in strong concentrations, but have never had trouble with this recipe since it is highly diluted…

      • Thanks for the quick reply! Do you think they are ok on babies under 6 months?

  180. Hi,
    I am wondering if this recipe could also be used around the house? Or do you have a different recipe for such a task? We have cockroaches and I am not sure what to do about them! I refuse to use toxic chemicals in our living space; I would like to make something that will deter them without creating a hazardous environment for our family.

    • diamatatious earth is natural and not toxic and will kill all crawling insects if dusted where they walk. General hygiene must be included in the plan since a source of food and water is what they need. This info was discovered on google and really works for roaches, fleas and ants to mention a few

  181. I tried the catnip and lavender recipe with rubbing alcohal and it works for about 15 min and then we get ate up … any advice I’m growing my own herbs but none are reAdy to harvest

  182. I made the super strong 4 thieves bug repellent last year. I still have some left over now a year later, is it still good to use? It smells okay. We are being attacked by ticks already. Thanks

  183. is this all safe for pregnancy?

  184. Do you have something that can help get rid of bedbugs?

    • DE is bad to breathe in and doesn’t necessarily work. professional heat treatment is the best right now. tho can be expensive. you can research bed bug traps on YouTube, the Williams method is pretty thorough. scientists are developing advanced traps beyond co2 that should hit markets later this year. good luck

  185. Thanks so much for this, looking forward to trying it.

    And btw, the theory of lavender oil making young boys produce estrogen is a myth that has now been debunked. I read this on the Dr. Josh Axe website. He backs himself up with a lot of solid research.

  186. I’m wondering if I can use peppermint castile soap with distilled water, witch hazel and some of the oils listed above (lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus) for a mosquito repellent and put it all in a small plastic spray bottle. I’ve heard that essential oils can deteriorate plastic, but I think that was just citrus oils. Doesn’t anyone know or have experience with castile soap for bug repellents and plastic bottles (particularly with lemongrass)?

  187. Hi! What is the trick to making it last long? I didn’t have witch hazel, and used vodka instead and a combination of most of the oils listed (Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint) . The gnat/flies that are terrible in my backyard stay away for about 5 minutes, and then are back.
    Also… does anyone have any more info on the issue that lavender (and other oils) are not young boy friendly? I have a 5 yr old son…

    • The myth about young boys and lavender oil has been debunked (Dr. Josh Axe).

  188. Hi Wellness Mama Katie!

    What is the benefit or purpose of adding the vegetable glycerine? I don’t have any on hand, so I thought I’d ask before I buy it. Thanks!!

    • You can leave it out. It just helps keep the oils incorporated. Just make sure to shake before using if you omit it 🙂

  189. Does the spray need to be stored in glass or can I just use a colored plastic spray bottle from the dollar store?
    Thanks for the recipe. Trying this today.

    • If you are using any essential oils at all, I strongly suggest using glass. EOs can leach chamicals out of plastic, and even erode it over time! I have seen straight EO burn right through a plastic vial, completely melting a hole in the side!

  190. I wonder if, on Wellness Mama site, or another good site, somebody can recommend a tutorial on how to mix essential oils (in water how does that work?) how to use dried herbs vs oils vs fresh herbs in these wonderful concoctions? I would just like a general, working understanding of mixing. Someone here mentioned Neem oil denatures after 24 hrs of being in water. Is that true for other oils? Any suggestions cuz when I start surfing the net I end up going for hours on tangents….and i don’t want to do that….

  191. Can I use this spray on countertops to deter ants? Is there another recipe for a countertop solution?

    • When we first moved to Texas we had a terrible problem with ants. Learned to use lemon water on countertops and window sills. I make in 1 gallon batches and wipe down my counters once a week . (1 part lemon to 4 parts water) ie. 1 cup lemon and 4 cups water). Works wonderfully.

  192. Could I use the essential oil recipe for my 2 year old child?

  193. Ants
    Use cinnamon. Buy a large container and sprinkle where you think the ants are coming in, and on counter, floor, window sill, etc. I don’t know about carpenter ants, but on regular ants it actually works and they don’t come back!

  194. Hi Katie! Can you tell me which brand of witch hazel you use? I am a little lost on what is best… thanks!

  195. I love the Homemade Bug Spray. It is a hit with not only my kids, but all the baseball moms that I have introduced to it.

  196. I purchased a product named Nomosquitoz. The active ingredients are Citronella, Lemongrass Oil, Cedar Oil. The inert are Water, Coconut oil, Lecthins, Alcohol and water.

    Do you have any recipes that would be similar??? I am a bug/ant target, and highly allergic to both. This stuff works great, but a little on the pricey side, since I have to reapply due to my sweating.

    Thanks so much,


  197. It’s hard (expensive as it has to be shipped from overseas) to buy apple cider vinegar where I live. Anything else I can use instead for the 4 thieves?



    • I make my own ACV in the crockpt
      10 fresh apples
      1 orange
      2 cinnamon sticks
      Dash of ground nutmeg
      Dash of ground cloves (or 4 whole)
      1 Gallon of filtered water (I run water through my Brita filtet twice)

      Wash and peel apples. Cut into slices and place in slow cooker.
      Slice orange into 8 slices and add to slow cooker.
      Add spices.
      Pour water into the slow cooker and stir gently.
      Cook on low for about 8 hours. I usually make this before bed and let it cook overnight. (wake to a wonderful aroma)
      Strain out apples and spices using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.

  198. hi katie.
    I’d prefer to make an essential oil bug spray (rather than go through the efffort of making a tincture!), but I want it to WORK! Could I use the essential oils with the ACV to make an effective big spray? Thanks!!!

  199. Katie up thread is correct on many points about the use of essential oils. Most essential oils should not be used on children under 30 months old. Several of the oils here are child friendly when used in the right percentages. 2-6% for 10 years and older. For small children spray on the cloths and keep them covered. A few oils here are not recommended for children. Cinnamon Oil is a mucous membrane irritant and skin sensitizer, Avoid in Alcoholism, hemophilia, in prosthetic cancer liver and kidney disease, and if taking anti coagulants. Cajeput oil may cause CNS and breathing problems in young children. Each oil should be checked for interactions with drugs or your health concerns such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure ect. A good oil to add would be lemon eucalyptus. Use a carrier of Witch Hazel or Distilled water. Keep refrigerated if using water. 6% EO of the 8 ounces would be 13.60 grams, about 2.5 teaspoons of all the oils combined, not each!

    • There is an error in my post above the correct amount of oils for eight ounces would be 1 teaspoon if the dilution rate is 2%.

  200. What is the benefit of adding vegetable glycerin?

  201. Great tips! We have ants at the moment, really annoying. I love rosemary for repelling insects, or rather my hubby does, as I seem to be a natural mosquito repellent — the things hate me.

    I’m on the hunt for a good alternative to commercial shampoos but have run out of luck. Avalon (lemon) has some nasty stuff. Acure shampoo uses Potassium Sorbate and Tocopheryl Acetate. Baby Bee (Burts bees) is too drying. Finally I’m settled on Aveeno Baby Gentle Conditioning Shampoo for now. But! BAKING SODA. That’s my favourite go-to when I’m not feeling like bathing in chemicals. :} I can recommend it. Shikakai is a little difficult to use and I didn’t get on with it, but I’ve heard that’s good too.

    As for the dish-washing, I currently use soap with a dispenser brush, but perhaps there is a more natural cleansing agent to put in those things. That failing, plain old hand-washing with hot water (don’t forget gloves!)

  202. Do you have any natural kinds that you can buy online that you recommend? I LOVE your recipes, but right now my kitchen is being renovated, and I thought of bug spray way too late in the summer, and I just need something I can buy this year.

  203. I’m working on making my own bug spray and I’m currently wanting to try Katie’s dried herb one above but have questions. First, what type of dried lavender should I look for (i.e. buds, leaves) and is this a spray that is meant to repel bugs or sprayed on bugs to kill them? Also if it is used as a preventative is there a recipe that can be use on bugs you may see and want to kill? Thanks for your time and I’m sorry if this was asked and answered above there were just so many posts to look through.

  204. Hi Kate,
    Making the homemade bug spray with witch hazel and the oils, however couldn’t find witch hazel extract , but inly found the floral water by Essencia (it says WitchHazel ) on the bottle . Can I still use it, ro even better add the oils in the water and spray? Thanks so much!

  205. Is there a bug repellant spray at whole foods that you recommend? Badger?

  206. Hi! Do you think that these remedies are safe for dogs too? I just moved near water and my dog and I are being eaten alive by mosquitos when I walk him at night. I tried connecting natural repellant bands and putting it around his neck, smells lemon scented, but its just not enough, he’s still itching away. I feel so bad because I have the same issue and I don’t want to use anything with deet on him or myself. I’m hoping one of your repellants work! Thanks!

  207. Can’t wait to try the insect repellent recipes….As for hair care, my mum swears by a couple of drops of rosemary oil to a jug of water for the final rinse, makes your hair super shiny! 🙂

  208. Quick question: Can you use a plastic spray bottle for the bugspray with essential oils? I know that you can’t use plastic when using citrus oils because the acidity in them eats the plastic, but I’m not sure about the ones mentioned…

    • I would avoid plastic as much a possible when using any essential oils. They are very potent!

  209. Hi there

    Is the lemon eucalyptus oil repellent safe to use on a 3 year old. What is it best to mix it with, witch hazel, alcohol, water?

    Many thanks

  210. Do you have any natural indoor spider repellents? Something I could spray along my baseboards?

  211. I am having troubles with gnats in my house. Can you tell me a safe natural way to get rid of them?

    • Grab a clean jar. Pour a little ACV (about 1/4 inch). Poke small holes in lid then screw shut. Place in out of the way spot. Gnat love the stuff. There is a swampy area behind my house and we get lots of gnats. I put these jars everywhere (crocheted covers to hide them). Problem under control. (change monthly). Also, gnats breed in garbage disposals.Once a month I put about 1/4 cup baking soda into the drain then add about 1 cup white vinegar. (I enjoy watching it bubble). Let sit for about half an hour then rinse with cold water.

  212. I made a bug spray as follows – 50ml witch hazel, 50ml cooled boiled water, 15 drops of lemongrass EO and 10 drops of eucalyptus EO.
    Didn’t get bitten once during walks and or on a recent holiday abroad (almost always get a nip on arms or legs). A few wasps came close but didn’t hang around.
    Used same recipe to get rid of an ant infestation. A couple of sprays, let it do it’s job and then wipe it up.
    Thanks Wellness Mama!

    • #212 this is a good response – thank you for the actual recipe!

      • You’re welcome Star!
        Have just returned from 2 weeks in Greece (same resort as last Sept). More mosquitos this time of year. Made same spray again (although substituted some drops of eucalyptus with lavender) and neither of us had any bites or rashes. We sprayed before sunbathing, walking and dinner. Stored in the fridge overnight so it was refreshing too in the heat. Used about 2/3 of our 100ml bottle.

  213. Hi Katie Wellness Mama! I LOVE everything on your page! I am a beginner at all of the all natural and essential oil stuff. I plan on making my home chemical free with all of your recipes. I am worried about the potency in some essential oils in this bug spray along with shampoos and lotions. Are all your recipes diluted enough for babies and children? If not do you have any recommendations for me to make them baby friendly?

    • I’ve used my recipes on my own children, though this bug spray I often use on their clothing instead of skin or use the vinegar and herb recipes instead. Also, in any beauty recipes, the EOs can be left out completely for young children, as they are just there for scent (or skin benefit in the case of lavender)

  214. I seem remember you saying that adding citrus EO to your recipe for mossie’s etc was not the way to go cause it can make you photosensitive , lots of these recipes have citrus in them , what is one to do because nearly everyone sprays in the day time and goes out in the sun,hope you can clear this up for me

  215. Hello. What is the shelf life of Essential Oil Repellant? Thank you!

  216. Hi Wellnessmama,

    I’ve noticed you haven’t answered any of the questions about these being safe for babies/nursing moms, and I am wondering if you are reluctant to make suggestions for those two groups specifically? We are going to be visiting family on the Big Island of Hawaii over the holidays, and there is a current outbreak of Dengue Fever, which is a very serious virus transmitted by mosquitos. I need something safe to put on myself, my baby, and my 2 and 5 year olds for the month that we are there. Last year while there, my 2 year old got over 40 mosquito bites at once! There was no dengue fever, so it just looked bad, but nothing worse than that. It would happen very quickly, at anytime during the day, and also at night when we were sleeping. It was very hard to keep them covered in the heat, as well. We will do our best with clothing and nets, but what do you suggest using that is safe while nursing and also for a 6 or 7 month old? Would you ever use DEET, in any situation or would you always avoid it? My mother in law had dengue fever that she caught while in SE Asia and had to be hospitalized. It took her several weeks after that to recover, so it is serious. Also, is there a resource you trust about the safety of essential oils for babies and nursing moms? There is so much conflicting info out there!
    Thank you.

    • Essential oil use on babies/toddlers and during pregnancy are very controversial and I am not an expert specifically in aromatherapy or essential oil safety so I have refrained from commenting directly. I have used the vinegar based one (with herbs) while pregnant and have used the others on clothing while pregnant and on my babies, but I’d always check with a doc.

  217. Hi,
    Is Witch Hazel safe to use on topical natural bug repellent on a 15 month old child? The one I have is 85% witch hazel and 15% ethanol.

  218. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this. Avon Skin so Soft works very well on black biting flies (on humans). Use to go to Canada every summer, flies would eat us alive w/o it. Good stuff (or it was back then).

  219. Our backyard is forest and I have Lyme disease as a result of being bit by ticks here a few years ago. It went untreated due to doctors in my town denying the existence of Lyme in Southwest Missouri. However, tests and numerous symptoms have proved this is simply not true.

    I use essential oils and made an all-natural bug spray last summer, but I was still getting bit by mosquitoes. What essential oils do you recommend most for tick prevention? We also have an indoor dog so I’d like to be able to use it on him. I don’t like using the chemical-laden bug sprays, but I want to protect my family.

    Thanks for the great information and recipes!

  220. Hi, I’m just curious if you would know if there would be any issues bringing a 4oz bottle of the essential oil spray in either a carry on or checked baggage? We are visiting my mom next week and I want to bring a natural repellant to fight any misquitos that might have the Zika virus. Thanks in advance!

  221. Thank you for the information. I am moving back (more like forward) south in a week and this will come in handy. I do not appreciate some of the rude comments. It is up to each person to research and determine what will work for them and how to adjust, use or not use. I thought I knew quite a bit about herbs, application and alternative healing (getting toxins out and good stuff in. Most meds are derived or mimick plants and herbs it seems), but I learn something new each time I read your posts.

  222. FYI for those of you who are mosquito magnets:

    Years ago someone told me that consuming bananas attracts mosquitoes. Since my poor daughter was a mosquito magnet, it seemed a worthwhile experiment. I was also told that increasing B vitamins during mosquito season would help.

    We stopped having bananas in the house and increased our food-based B supplement in the buggy months. It’s not a cure-all but they certainly didn’t swarm her in the same way when we made this change.

  223. I use Shea butter, it works great and doesn’t have the horrible smells which my sinuses can’t tolerate.

  224. Great recipes, and I also add Neem oil to my blends. Works like a charm for myself and pups! I also recommend eating extra garlic during season(as well as adding to pet food) because it repels from the inside out. (No coincidence that Vampires are also repelled by this pungent herb!)

  225. I have used lavender essential oil on my pulse points. It works only for a few minutes and i have to reapply it. The essential oil in watet or coconut oil neem oil fix also i think will evapoarate in 5 mins .Any solution which lasts for atleat an hour or 45 mins.

  226. I know this is a natural site, however, I have spent a fair amount of my life in wilderness areas (the outdoors is my cathedral!) and I’ve tried every essential oil under the sun, including all those listed here. I’ve used them in strengths up to the point that they began to feel uncomfortably warmish on my skin, and in every combination I can think of. It may be my body chemistry, as some folks seem more ‘attractive’ to blood sucking bugs; but especially for mosquitoes, none of the essential oils work more than partially on me at best. While it is not a natural product, and there are varying reports on safety or lack thereof for its use, I find nothing works completely unless there is DEET in the mixture. I understand some folk’s concerns regarding its safety; but for me personally, its efficacy is unmatched, and that is highly important to me. I’ve lived with chronic Lyme disease for about 35 years, and it has made my life downright miserable at times, and kept me from some of my outdoor and day-to-day activities as well. If I never have another tick bite in my life, it will be too soon; and it is believed that the ability to carry the disease has been passed on to other blood sucking insects, including mosquitoes. This is NOT a disease you want to have, and while the jury is still out on DEET, I believe I believe the known effects of Lyme on the human body are much worse than the negative effects of DEET. It is only my two cents worth. A 30% solution of DEET (reasonably low) can be mixed with essential oils, and it will keep nearly every critter out there away from me. DEET all by itself is 100% effective for me in regards to mosquito repellency, and I believe it works similarly well on ticks. This is reason enough for me to continue using it, in spite of any risks.

  227. I just joined Wellness Mama today and part of the reason is trying to become healthier with less additives / chemicals in my family’s lives. I am super excited to try these recipes as Spring is upon us and with all the rain we are having, we will have mosquitoes that can carry a person off. I live just minutes from the Arkansas river and believe me we have some huge mosquitoes here. Also, living in Arkansas there is plenty of nature to go see and thus the opportunity for other critters.

  228. Fresh lemongrass is very scratchy and can give you a skin rash that will last for hours :(. I have to cut mine with gloves whenever I want some fresh lemongrass tea.

  229. I use Shea butter.

  230. Hi Wellness Mama I know this is old but have you heard of basil for ticks? It really really really works!!! I lived in an infested area of phoenix and even though my dogs were frontlined and or andvantixed (we used both because one was not working then the other didn’t either) and the yard was routinely sprayed the ticks were so so so awful! I read online a natural thing for ticks was basil but I thought no way that’s too easy. I put it out of my mind and just dealt with the problem then a few months later I decided to grow a garden since I lived on 1/3 of an acre and my friend gave me some basil seed which I sprinkled in 2 huge pots and that stuff grew like weeds effortlessly!!!! Then I stopped seeing ticks! About a month before I left the place I hust let the plants go because I couldn’t take the huge pots with me they weren’t mine I started noticing ticks again! I knew it was the basil. I decided to make sure and when we moved I saw a few on my dogs so I went outside and sprinkled basil seed that I had crushed up finely all over the ground because this place had a small rocky patio with no lawn I knew it wouldn’t grow and guess what?! NO TICKS again! I now keep a basil plant araound at all times those things are the worst most hideous creatures ever! They loved my white poodle and I even picked one off his back the size of a quarter fat from blood!!!! It made me cry! I alsofelt one crawling on me while I was sleeping and think I may have been bit by one too because I woke up once with a huge bite that looked just like those bulls eye marks. Anyways just wanted tp share!!!

    • Fascinating! Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing!

  231. Any ideas for keeping ants out of my house? The ants in our new location are everywhere, and do not seem to have a particular attraction (like food or water). They crawl in circles (not lines as many do, following a scent). I have used a natural spray from the health food store that has several oils in it, but it does not work. I’d love some help!

  232. I am interested in the witch hazel with Vanilla extract and water mixture for bug spray. You didn’t post ratios, so I am wondering how much of each to use. I will be going on some adventures soon and need a firm of bug repellant.
    Also, would this be safe for my 14 month old daughter?
    Please respond as soon as possible.
    Thank you!

    • I would add about a teaspoon of each. I have used on my kids at this age.

  233. FYI: Mosquitoes are drawn to people who have high sugar levels in their system, however not exclusively. Remember that sweeteners like sugar, honey, agave, dried fruits, candy, cookies etc as well as carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes and corn convert to sugar in the body. Here is another good reason to eat a diet lower in carbohydrates, balanced with protein and generous amounts of low glycemic vegetables. ..a perfect reason for having a vegetable garden. Also, if you take a Vitamin B Complex (such as a combination with 50mgs of all the B’s) you are not as appealing to mosquitos. You will need to keep a consistent level of B vitamins in your body. It doesn’t work well if you take the vitamins sporadically or if you take a supplement with low levels of B vitamins. If you are having a stressful day, be sure to take an additional B Complex. B vitamins help relieve stress but are “burned up” during times of stress. Note that B Vitamins make your urine very yellow. It is helpful to take a B Complex Vitamin- 1/2 hour before going outside especially in the evening before dusk when mosquitos appear in larger numbers with a big appetite. Nutritional Yeast is also good source of B Vitamins and you can add it to your smoothies. You still want to use your safe, homemade bug spray along with the B Vitamins. If you are pregnant this summer or thinking of getting pregnant extra precaution is a good thing and B Vitamins, taken responsibly, will not hurt you or your baby. B Vitamins provide a good source of energy. (suggested by natural health practitioner)

  234. Hi there. I know this is an old post, but I am new to using essential Oils and I have an 8 month old. I am trying to go the natural route in bug repellants and found your post here. I read some of the information regarding the dangers of using essential oils on baby’s skin. Is it effective to just spray our clothes? I am traveling to Brasil this year and want to protect my child from bites. would the recipe you suggest work in a diffuser? I noted Rosemary and Eucalyptus is not recommended for use on baby’s… so nix those.. altogether.. does it make the recipe ineffective?


  235. Hey Mama or anyone with pertinent experience,
    I want to use your bug spray recipes to create a bug spray for my outdoor patio area and doorways. The mosquitos hang out in the doorway and then enter my home, munching on us all night, Not to mention munching on us when we sit on the patio.
    1. Do i need to add a carrier oil to help decrease evaporation and prolong the effectiveness of the E-oils for outdoor use?
    2. can/should i use any other oils that are better for outdoor use as opposed to your recipes for human use?
    3. should i just follow your recipe and use it for both indoors/humans and outdoors? i mean, like dont fix what aint broke?
    (of note, i have pets who’s little paws may track across sprayed areas, so thyme oil is definitely out of the question, as much as i love its fragrance.)
    Thank you!

    • To keep mosquitoes out of my house I put a potted plant of mosquito grass on either side of the door. Also next to my doggie door.

  236. I use Homemade Goat Milk Soap. It works. It has the oils in it and I have not had any problems with insect bites this year at all.

  237. Could you cut the recipe in half and still have the same beneficial results?

  238. Great information! I appreciate this! One note… I noticed the mention of citrus based EOs. While they may be fantastic at repelling insects, keep in mind that some citrus based EOs are phototoxic and photoallergenic. I have a separate recipe for bug spray that doesn’t include these if I am to be working in the direct sun. Also note that some of these EOs last for days on the skin and can still react with the sun up to 72 hours of application. Peace friends!

  239. HI! So glad to find this post. We boil some rosemary and then add vinegar to the spray bottle. It’s worked great for us. However, we keep the rosemary spray in the garage…and then I noticed some black things in there…..I fear it might be mold. We had strained it before putting it into the bottle. Do we need to keep in fridge to prevent that?

  240. With the recent scares of the Zika virus looming especially for pregnant women (which I am)
    Do you think it would be safer to use a bug spray with deet or picardin in it that has been tested against those species of mosquito?
    Thank you! 🙂

  241. Hi Katie, is it safe to make these with the essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy? I thought women were not supposed to use them at all during that time. If not do you have any ideas for store bought natural bug sprays. I’m seriously concerned about Zika and want to take precautions. Thanks! Sara

  242. This repellent didn’t work at all. I just slathered my legs in it and was still swarmed by mosquitoes in my yard, and got at least a dozen bites in five minutes all up and down my legs. Sometimes natural remedies are great but this is just giving people false hope!

  243. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using……if using what?

    • Vegetable glycerin is optional, so 1/2 tsp of it, IF you decide to use it 😉

  244. Is it possible to use this bug spray on my dog?

  245. This spray burned my face worse than any sunburn I have ever gotten. I am going to have to call in sick to work tomorrow so people arent saying “What happened to your face!!!?” This stuff sucks so bad. I feel like crying. Even after washing it off, my skin continues to burn. i am literallylobster red in the face an don my neck as well. WTF!!!!!

  246. I know this is an old post, but I’m curious about the vegetable glycerin? I see it used in this recipe, and in some hand soap recipes…what purpose does it serve? Thanks!

  247. This recipe is great of you are looking for a perfume recipe.Less than 1 min after applying this I had already 3 bites and about 6 sitting on me ready to eat.My friends thought this is a perfume.

  248. I have friends and co-workers who have bed bug issues and nothing has helped. They have tried bombs, sprays, exterminators….you name it, they have tried it. So far, no positive results. Is there an oil recipe for getting rid of bed bugs?

  249. I’m curious as to the shelf life of this spray. Using water, with no form of preservative, other than the EO’s that have some natural preservative qualities. How long would it be safe to use for, how long will it continue to work for??

  250. Hi.

    Was just wondering if any/all of these recipes would be safe/recommended for use on the carpets in a house with a crawling baby? When my baby is crawling around with less clothes on he seems to get lots of little bites. No idea what is biting him but I’ve caught glimpses of creepy crawlies in my very old carpets. Vacuuming doesn’t seem to help. I thought of a spray or a mix of herbs/oils with baking soda, applied at night and vacuumed up in the morning before he was awake might help. Any advice?

    Thanks for a great blog.

  251. Hi All, I’m from a Mozzie and Midgie ridden Island in Sunny QLD Australia. Unfortunately since a knee accident I have developed Diabetes, very swollen legs especially the ankles, and an extremely painful condition the resembles Cellulitis that my Dr now does not think is Cellulitis. Regardless of this, he does think that the condition is sparked off by Midgie bites (a very small biting fly that is almost too small to see and resembles a sand fly). My ankles and lower shins are always very red, hot and extremely painful to touch/ move/ stretch. The skin feels like it will burst. And they are often extremely itchy (a situation that’s exasperating when
    You can’t stand to touch them).
    So I’m wondering if anyone knows anything that can help keep the bloody biting midges off my poor legs. I take so many painkillers and medications that I don’t really want to add any other problems into the mix. But was wondering if consuming the neem (dreadful smelling stuff) oil would help. Or if anyone had a successful repellent that was safe around my 4 X furry 4 legged family and my grandchildren ranging from babes in arms to 12yrs. Thanks for any advice in advance.