Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

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Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
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Ever since I discovered how to make my original lotion bars, I’ve been experimenting with different variations including sunscreen bars, Vapo-Rub bars, and others. Today’s favorite: bug repellent lotion bars!

They are as easy to make as the original bars, and they seem even more effective at keeping bugs away than regular homemade bug spray, probably because they actually coat the skin with a protective layer. They are easy to take along and the kids can apply it themselves.

Instead of being filled with chemicals and toxins like conventional bug sprays, this recipe actually nourishes and moisturizes the skin while protecting it.

Items Needed

I also use silicone molds to set the bars. These are the molds I used but I also love these sunflower ones and these heart ones, which would both be great for gifts. There are also simple flower molds and actual bar shaped ones.

Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
4.83 from 17 votes

Bug Repellant Lotion Bar Recipe

Keep away bugs without chemicals using herbs and essential oils in a nourishing lotion bar.
Active Time15 minutes
Infusing Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Yield: 10 bars
Author: Katie Wells



To infuse the herbs into the coconut oil

  • Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of water (in bottom pan) until starting to boil.
  • Place the coconut oil in the top part of the double boiler and add the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip, and mint.
  • Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium/high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until the oil has adopted a darker color and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.
  • Strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or cheesecloth and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about ½ cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time!

To make the lotion bars

  • Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler with the infused coconut oil and stir until all have melted.
  • Remove from the heat and add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils.
  • Pour it into the molds.
  • Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best). Or you can speed up the process by placing it in the fridge.


To use, rub the bars on exposed areas of DRY skin to protect against mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren’t.
I use cupcake-size molds for my lotion bars. If you use a different size, your yield will be different.

Don’t Want to Make Them?

If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is HardLotion.com and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)

How do you keep the bugs away? Share below!

These homemade bug repellent lotion bars have herbs and essential oils to repel insects and bugs while you are outdoors!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


160 responses to “Bug Repellent Lotion Bars”

  1. Alana Avatar

    Can you use copha for this recipe? Hydrogenated coconut oil that is solid at room tempreture

  2. Gina Avatar

    How many drops of essential oils would be equivalent to the infused cloves, rosemary, catnip, cinnamon, thyme & mint (if used)? Also, are there any substitutions that can be made, like using eucalyptus instead of catnip? I don’t want my outside kitties going crazy and getting high off sniffing & rubbing my skin, especially since most if not all of the other herbs are toxic to cats.

  3. Autumn Avatar

    I am wondering about adding some zinc oxide powder to make this inspect repellent a sunblock bar as well? Any thoughts?
    Also could I replace any of the oils/butters with pig lard?

  4. Lacey Avatar

    Thanks so much for all the great info! This is my new favorite blog 🙂 I am new to using essential oils, but have been researching a good diy bug repellant option safe for babies. Think I have hopefully found a good blend ( citronella, rosalina, geranium, cedarwood, sweet orange) for a roll on application I am supposed to put 4 drops into 1tbls of carrier oil. But I love the idea of these lotion bars. Any idea how many drops I would put into the bars considering it would be for a baby 6+ months old? Thanks for any advice you might have!

  5. Tiffany Avatar

    Hey Katie,
    Thank you so much for all you share, research, and experiment; I know I am one of many that appreciate and benefit from it! I was wondering how I could make rollers out of this recipie (omitting beeswax and butters) or if their is a different blend of eo you would recommend. NPR published an article about natural vs traditional mosquito repellents and a lemon and eucalyptus seemed to work almost as well as DEET. Would a blend of eucalyptus, lemon, and maybe citronella with fractionated coconut oil be safe for a roller? Thanks!

  6. Gris Avatar

    Can I substitute catnip with citronella or that works better?? I really do not like cats!! 🙂 I know this sound silly but don’t want them around me!

  7. Sue Avatar

    I clicked on the link in the recipe for the Bug Off blend, and it took me to Amazon where the product was called by a different name and had a different blend of essential oils. Some were the same, and there were some not listed in the recipe. I also tried searching the Mountain Rose Herbs site and didn’t come up with anything by that name, not even a bug repellant blend.

    So…..where and what would I look for to find the Bug Off essential oil blend?

    Love your lotion and deodorant recipes, by the way!

    1. Liz Avatar

      It’s the same. I’ve been using that blend for years even once when I lived in a jungle ecosystem and it works great! You can use it without dilution but it is strong in scent but you can easily dilute. This lotion bar recipe sounds great or I just throw it in a spray bottle w DI water. Easy peasy.

  8. Tanya Currie Avatar
    Tanya Currie

    Could you use this recipe, but put it into a stick? The stick would be a lot easier to apply, and he wouldn’t get it all over your hands! Plus it would be easy to pack, and if it did start to melt it wouldn’t matter.

  9. Tanya Currie Avatar
    Tanya Currie

    So if I’m getting this right, if you have a bug off blend like terra shield from Doterra, then you don’t need to use the herbs right? Instead of the herbs, what about using clove, thyme, peppermint and Rosemary essential oils? This might make it stronger. This a be easier for me because I already have lemon and lavender essential oil’s, so I wouldn’t have to buy the bug off blend. I have all the oils right now!

  10. Sharon Avatar

    I made bug repellent bars last night.
    used coconut oil, Crisco, natural raw beeswax, citronella, tea tree and lavender. Love the fragrance and color. However it is a bit sticky, drags on skin. Once on, it is nice. Is there something I can do for the drag?
    I live on a small island off the coast of Honduras in western Caribbean.
    I am a soap maker and branched out with lip balm and now bug bars!
    Thanks in advance!

  11. Colleen Grant Avatar
    Colleen Grant

    Hi Katie!
    Thanks again for another wonderful recipe! How do you store these?

  12. Tre Avatar

    5 stars
    Will the lotion bars melts? I know coconut oil melted 75° so I’m just curious to know if those will stay solid or not. I have a three-month-old that I want to take camping and me and this sounds like a good idea

    1. Jody Avatar

      I have taken them camping many times and never had them melt. They work wonderful! My daughter has very sensitive skin and gets eaten alive every time she steps out the door, except when she’s wearing this!

  13. Rikki Avatar

    5 stars
    I didn’t have any catnip, how about fresh Lemongrass in place of catnip? Also I added 2 tbsp of ground epsom salt (didn’t have any magnesium flakes either) and a couple fresh chocolate mint leaves. I really love your site! I have the Brady bunch plus one, 9 mo. old through 20, and we live in Florida where the mosquitos resemble thick walls of vampire pterodactyls! Looking for safe chemical free ways to keep them off, especially for the babies.

  14. Teresa Avatar

    I love your website with all the useful tips and information! I wanted to let you know that I was pleasantly surprised today to find you listed in the CareSpot Immediate Care/Walk in Clinic article for DIY: Natural Repellents from the Kitchen. That’s amazing! Coming from one mother of five to another, you should be very proud! Keep at it; your doing great!

  15. Ana Avatar

    I’ve tried it and it was great for mosquitos. Does it also work with ticks?
    Thank, you,

  16. MaryAnn Combs Avatar
    MaryAnn Combs

    I am having a DIY and one of the DIY item is bug spray in a 15ml reuse a essential oil bottle. Do you have a formula, Terrashied, purify, lemongrass, melaueca, with FCO or Witch hazel. It is for 12 people so I didn’t want to use straigh EO. Thank you. It is next on my list to do bug lotion bars, but I am ready with my oil bottles and labels for May 9th,.

  17. Ann Avatar

    I just made this bug repellent lotion bar. I FORGOT to put in the vitamin E. What should I do?

  18. Mary Ann Combs Avatar
    Mary Ann Combs

    Hello 🙂 Do you have a recipe for a bug repellent stick?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Not specifically, but you could make them in old, clean deodorant tubes. I would be careful, though… Essential oils can corrode plastic, and these have a lot of essential oils in them! I personally would advise against it.

  19. Mary Villalpando Avatar
    Mary Villalpando

    Would this work on “bed bugs” … or can you come up with a recipe that would? I have spent over $100 on commercial sprays for home and yard and still seem to have them in the yard. They get on the dog who brings them inside. Thanks.

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