Homemade Natural Insect Repellents

Karen Thompson
Monday, 23rd October 2017

How to make natural insect repellents to keep away mosquitos - using essential oils and dried herbs.

Tired of conventional insect repellents containing DEET and other toxic chemicals, but still want to protect yourself against pesky bugs and pests? The solution is simple: Make your own! In this article we tell you just how to create your own, all-natural insect repellents, using nothing but common household ingredients. Not only is it more enjoyable making your own insect repellent, these recipes are effective too! Read on to find out more.

Why make your own insect repellent?

As we all know from bitter experience, mosquitoes are attracted to human skin and blood, so the more you can make your skin unattractive to these bloodsuckers the more you will be protected against them and their voracious thirst for your blood. That's precisely what insect repellents do - they contain chemicals that make mosquitoes turn their noses up in disgust, so by coating your skin with them you are repelling bugs who would otherwise be salivating over it like a delicious meal. 

Here's the catch though: most of the commercial bug sprays you buy in the store contain a chemical known as DEET, or N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide. Although approved as safe in the EU Biocidal Products Regulations (BPR) and by World Health Organisation, it is known to be toxic to wild flora and fauna, and also, many argue, to humans. It is at the very least known to be an eye irritant, and can also cause rashes and blisters when you apply it to the skin. In addition it has been linked to neurological damage in adults and children - also in rats, with research showing that prolonged exposure to DEET can result in extensive brain cell death and changes in behavior.

Conventional insect repellents are a bit of a double edged sword then, aren't they? Wouldn't it be GREAT to have an insect repellent made from safe, all-natural ingredients, that you can make at home from everyday ingredients, and that will work just as effectively as the store bought ones?  YES! And that's where we're here to help you. Try out these quick and easy home-made insect spray recipes and you be well protected this summer - both from the bugs AND from toxic chemicals.

1. Essential Oils Mosquito Repellant

The active ingredient in this all-natural mosquito repellent is essential oils – whether eucalyptus, lavender, mint, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, or a combination of several of these. These oils are very effective at repelling mosquitoes, and there are loads of different recipes you can try. Try out this one for starters:


  • 30 drops of citronella oil
  • 20 drops of rosemary oil
  • 20 drops lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of vodka
  • 1/2 a cup of witch hazel
  • 1/2 a cup of water


  • Place all the oils in a spray bottle. Then add the vodka and shake it well to mix all the ingredients
  • Next pour in the witch hazel and, again, shake in order to combine
  • Add water and shake for a third time.
  • Shake before first and every subsequent usage as the oils and the water naturally separate from each other over time.

2. Dried or Fresh Herbs Insect Spray

Got no essential oils lying around at home? Well the good news is that there are plenty of other ingredients you can also use to make all-natural insect repellents. Here's one such concoction.


  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel
  • Dried or fresh herbs: lavender, peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, citronella - use any combination


  • Boil one cup water and add 3-4 tablespoons of herbs. Throw in a couple of dried cloves for good measure.
  • Mix everything well, cover, and let it cool (covering it keeps the oils in)
  • Strain out the herbs then mix water with a cup of witch hazel/rubbing alcohol. Store the concoction in a spray bottle in some cool place
  • Use as required. A bonus of this spray is that it also smells really smoothing and refreshes your skin also.

3. Vinegar Mosquito Repellent

Although vinegar might not smell the best (at least when wet), it sure is effective as an insect repellent! As well as it is one of the best mosquito spray for yard that you can create. So make this recipe at home come summertime and you will be well protected against the bloodsucking hordes.


  • Apple Cider Vinegar x 1 bottle (32 ounces)
  • 2-3 tablespoons dried Sage, Thyme, Mint and Lavender
  • One glass jar with an airtight lid


  • Place vinegar and herbs into the glass jar
  • Seal it tightly and store on your kitchen counter. Shake it well EVERY day for 2 to 3 weeks
  • After 2 to 3 weeks, strain out the herbs and store the left over mixture in a spray bottle. Refrigerate.
  • For use on your skin, dilute 50% with water

There you have it then! There are loads of all natural insect repellent ideas out there, that can be made at minimal expense and using common household ingredients. The ones presented here are just a few. Do your own research to discover even more. If you want to remain well protected against bugs this year, but don't want to expose yourself to harmful chemicals either, give some of them a try.

Karen Thompson is the editor of InsectCop.net

Useful resources

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5 natural ways to keep you veg garden pest-free

DIY natural insecticides


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