This post provides you with all you need to know about making a homemade natural bug spray using essential oils. We’ll cover the exact natural bug spray recipe I use for my family, a step by step tutorial of how to make it, and a few recipe variations for different (but equally effective) natural bug spray options you may want to try.
Ready? Let’s get to it.
But first a little back story. I grew up in Maine, and while I technically lived in a city, my childhood summers are filled with memories of hiking, camping, being in the woods, and up at the lake.
What is summer to a child if it’s not spending all day outside? Bare feet in the grass, coming home sweaty, covered in sunscreen. While our daughter is only 2, I’m already dreaming of how we can make the best memories for her in the summer. I mean, all year round too, of course… but there’s something so special about summer when you’re a kid. I want my daughter to remember the fresh air and adventures. The hours spent on a playground, and all day at a pool. I want her to remember freedom, and independence. Gosh, remembering my summers is really something else. Like top notch nostalgia!
You know what else comes to mind when I think about summertime and warm weather? Freaking bug bites. I’m just thinking about it and the strong smell of Deet and After Bite immediately come back to me.
Were those products good at keeping the bugs away? Sure. But they’re also filled with ingredients that I no longer consider safe for my family.
When my daughter was an infant, I began making a concerted effort to purchase safer products for our home. Cleaner food, cleaner personal care products, cleaner makeup for me, cleaner baby products for her. Cleaner everything.
Around the same time, essential oils entered my life.
While I’m usually quick to purchase made for you products when they come from brands I trust, I’ve also come to appreciate the convenience of a quick DIY.
So when the summer season rolls in, temps start to rise, and bugs begin to come out in droves, I no longer whip out the chemical filled bug sprays and insect repellents. Truthfully, those ingredients now terrify me.
Instead, I’ve learned to turn to the products I keep in our home, and making your own natural bug spray using essential oils is so quick and easy.
My Homemade Natural Bug Spray Recipe
Making your own homemade products using essential oils often feels overwhelming before you’ve done it. If you Google or look on Pinterest for a natural bug spray recipe, you’ll find thousands. Literally, thousands. And everyone is likely going to share a slightly different recipe, or different combination of oils.
Don’t let that send you into a tizzy! The beautiful thing about using essential oils is that usually there’s no hard and fast rule about what works. If someone says 5 drops of an oil, and you add 7, the world isn’t going to end. If someone likes a recipe with Orange Vitality essential oil, and you use Tangerine Vitality essential oil, that’s totally cool.
Similarly, with homemade and natural bug spray recipes, there are many, many ways you can whip up this product quickly and easily, and most all of them work really well! Theres no one right way. Hopefully, that let’s you relax a little bit, and look for the combination of products that sounds most appealing to you.
Here’s all I use for my DIY bug spray using common household products and essential oils!
- 4oz amber glass spray bottle
- 2oz of witch hazel
- 40-50 drops of essential oil (for adults and children over 10)
- Top off with water
Voila. That’s it. No harsh chemicals. No ingredients I can’t pronounce. No dangerous outcomes for our health and bodies.
The Combination of Essential Oils I Use for Bug Spray
Remember how I told you above there’s no one right way to make a natural bug spray? Okay… keep that in mind friends.
The combination of oils I use are:
- 10 drops citronella
- 10 drops tea tree
- 10 drops lemongrass
- 5 drops rosemary
- 5 drops spearmint
- 5 drops lavender
How to DIY a Bug Repellent Spray Using Essential Oils
There is zero fancy DIY directions here friends. It’s literally as easy as gathering your supplies, adding them all to your spray bottle of choice, and giving it a good shake!
- Add 2oz of witch hazel to your spray bottle (or eyeball until it’s about half full)
- Add all of the essential oils to your bottle
- Fill the rest with water
- Close the spray bottle and give it a good shake!
Things to Keep in Mind
Oils + water: Do you know where I’m going with this one? Oils and water don’t mix. I don’t remember when in life you learn that, but it’s one of those common things we all know. And yet, time and time again my friends will reach out and say, “Help! My DIY doesn’t look right!” The fix here is simple. Give your bottle a good shake before applying each and every time. That’s all.
Application: While convenience, safety, and cost are all pros to making your own bug repellent product, the one downside is you do need to reapply this more frequently. Just a heads up!
Be careful: Avoid spraying this directly on your face, and if you have the bug spray on your hands or fingers, be smart about it. You know… like don’t rub your eyes or put them in your mouth. A simple trick for kids is to spray their clothes (or places like the back of their neck), where they’re less likely to touch.
Young kids! And speaking of kids, if you’re making a spray for a young kiddo, always talk to your doctor first. I’ve been using essential oils around my daughter since she was 6 months old, but this is something each family should make a decision about on their own! For a toddler, I’d make a spray like I reference above but include only 20-25 drops of essential oil total. A great, simple spray for a kiddo would be 10 drops of lavender + 10 drops of citronella.
Your choice of water: A lot of essential oil DIY recipes call for distilled water. I’m going to tell you that’s up to you, and probably depends most on the type of water you have in your home. I almost always use straight tap water… and so far things are working out over here 🙂
Alternative Options for a Natural Bug Repellent
I can’t reiterate enough that making a natural, chemical free bug spray right at home is a quick and easy process. And… that it’s not a perfect science.
You saw above the exact oils I like to use in my DIY bug spray recipe, but there are many combinations of oils that will still work super well.
For example – many Young Living customers use Purification essential oil in their homemade bug sprays. This is an awesome option to use, to simplify your recipe even more! Purification is a special blend of oils sold by Young Living that combines: citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, lavender, and myrtle. I include many of those same ingredients individually in my DIY recipe, but you can easily replace them with purification!
Other oils you’ll see people use, because they are great to include in natural bug spray products are:
- Lemon eucalyptus
You’ll also see some people use a different ratio of water and witch hazel. For a more diluted recipe, you can use 1/3 witch hazel and 2/3 water.
Some folks even like to use half witch hazel and half apple cider vinegar!
And as I mentioned before, you can choose the type of water to use for your recipe.
How To Buy Essential Oils
If you’re not already an essential oils user, I can certainly help you get started. You can read more about why I started using natural products and essential oils here, why I urge you to not buy oils from the grocery store or other big retailers, and how most people make their first purchase from Young Living here.
Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for more scoop on how I use essential oils daily!