You can make this easy DIY Insect Repellent in just minutes. It’s completely plant based and natural. It has been extraordinarily effective for our family, young AND old, and I encourage you to make the switch to a healthier alternative. It DOES need to be reapplied every two hours, but in reality, the dangerous commercial ones can require the same thing. Commercial brands won’t have all the extra benefits for skin and health that this recipe can offer, either.
Mosquitoes and summer go hand-in-hand, in southeast Nebraska. It’s no surprise to hear them swarming and buzzzzzzzzzzing past our ears as dusk approaches, each evening. This year, however, with all the tornadoes and flooding, we seem to have an inordinate amount of standing water, which of course, is a breeding ground for the little pests. I do not like mosquitoes, Sam. I do not like them, Sam I Am. I do not lock them in a box. I do not like them with a fox. And I can’t stand them snacking on my ankles! 🙂
My kids have always seemed to be highly sensitive to mosquitoes. I mean like welts-the-size-of-walnuts sensitive. Welts that visibly throbbed and pulsed, were very, very hot to the touch and changed from red to white like a strobe light. I wish I was exaggerating. They were sensitive, Guys…for real! So, I did everything to keep them safe from bites. In those days, that meant DEET. The overwhelming guilt each time I sprayed them was a sickness in the pit of my stomach. I hated it, but we just didn’t know enough about alternatives, then.
Things are different with my grandkids. First of all, they don’t look like pulsing, polka-dotted aliens when they get mosquito bites. 🙂 Plus, Grandma has learned a few things and has more resources available than when their folks were young. They’re staying with us for ten days, while our daughter and son-in-law are serving on a mission trip. Last Thursday night, was their first evening, here, and as is customary, they, and our 12-year-old, played outside until the last remnants of daylight disappeared on the western horizon. That time of night is a mosquito’s feasting dream and feast they did. It was time to go on the offensive and find a natural way to protect the kids, so they could enjoy their summer evenings in peace.
I was OVERWHELMED by all the DIY insect repellent recipes I found online. There is so much good information available to us, now, and effective natural alternatives to protect our family. This formula is a hodge-podge combination of the best of what I took from many different blogs and natural health websites and as of this writing, we haven’t had a single new mosquito bite on someone who has used it. That makes sense, since the essential oils I chose are known to repel insects. I’ll keep you posted if I make any adjustments or changes, as the summer progresses, but for now, this IS our insect repellent and I am pleased with it’s effectiveness for staying bite free, playing in the yard. I have NOT tested it deep in the timber. IF YOU do, I would love to hear about your results.
Do NOT Use this specific recipe if you are pregnant! Most essential oils should be avoided in pregnancy. They are highly concentrated and very potent. Some can potentially induce contractions, so be sure you know exactly what you’re using, what it does and its safety precautions during pregnancy and/or nursing. This is not to say that you couldn’t create an effective and safe insect repellent for use during pregnancy. When you start through my list of essential oils effective for repelling insects, don’t be discouraged that the first several listed can’t be used during pregnancy. Continue into the list and you’ll find others that could work for you. You will have to choose oils that are safe during pregnancy AND have repellent properties for insects. There ARE some, so check out the research, inform yourself and make the healthiest choices for yourself and your growing family. 🙂
Before I get into the recipe, I want to talk about a few of the ingredient options. There are many others, but you will need to do a little research, on your own, to find ones that work the best for you and your family. Choosing a variety of essential oils, at least four, will likely give better results than just one or two. There are different types of mosquitoes and each responds to different stimuli and repellents. A wide variety “mixture” will give the most effective repellent properties to your “bug spray” for all varieties of pesky mosquitoes. (Many of the ingredients I selected for my recipe also have benefits that will even help with itch and pain relief after a bite has occurred.)
- Witch Hazel is a plant based extract made from the leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana. It is often used to make medicine. It is also useful on the skin for pain and inflammation, itching, insect bites and stings, minor burns and skin irritations.
- Jojoba Oil comes from a shrub that is grown in the dry, northern regions of Mexico. It is used on skin for acne, sunburn, and psoriasis. It is also a common ingredient in makeup, lotions and hair care products. Some people use it to encourage regrowth of hair in people who are balding. It is an effective carrier oil for blending and diluting essential oils into useful mixtures.
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil repels insects, especially flies. It’s strong and must be used with a carrier oil. Do not use if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or epilepsy.
- Citronella Essential Oil also repels insects and fleas. Only use in a carrier oil or diffuser. Do not use if pregnant or around caged birds in closed rooms.
- Cedarwood Essential Oil is used by some as an anti-inflammatory, to help relieve congestion and to suppress coughing. It can be helpful in relieving the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and in clearing up dandruff. It repels insects, mice and rats. Always use a carrier oil with it. Avoid if pregnant.
- Lemon Essential Oil is a wonderful insect repellent. It is good for cleansing, often used as an antiseptic and may help with concentration.
- Cajeput Essential Oil is more commonly known as Melaleuca and is commonly used for sore throats and as an antiviral for cold sores. It has also been used for muscle stiffness, cramping and menstruation. It may provide relief from cold and flu symptoms when diffused. It is an insect repellent and can provide relief from bug bites. Avoid during pregnancy.
- Camphor Essential Oil is used as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis, muscle aches and pain. It has been used for clearing lungs and boosting circulation, in addition to repelling insects. Avoid during pregnancy and if you have asthma or epilepsy.
- Lavender Essential Oil is often used for its analgesic and antiseptic properties. It is the essential oil most commonly associated with treating burns and healing of skin. It promotes rapid healing and helps to reduce scarring. It’s scent can have a calming effect, helping to reduce anxiety and stress, while promoting sleep. It also works as an insect repellent. Traditionally, lavender has been considered safe for use during pregnancy, especially when diluted in a carrier oil and applied topically. Recent claims have suggested that it should be considered otherwise. However, after researching the information available and reading one excellent post, in particular, I would definitely use it myself, during a pregnancy, without a bit of worry. You will need to make that call for yourself, based on the best reliable information you seek out.
- Peppermint Essential Oil is great for digestive problems, headaches, fevers, sinuses, muscle and nerve pain. It is considered to be a mental stimulant and energizer. It can also be used as an insect repellent. Some studies have even shown peppermint oil to kill mosquito larvae.
- Rosemary Essential Oil is good for skin and hair. Nourishes the scalp and keeps hair looking healthy and shiny. Rosemary oil is said to have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and is also used to balance intense emotions and control mood swings. It lifts the spirits, counters depression and assists in managing stress. It has been used effectively to repel mosquitoes. Do not use during pregnancy.
- Clary Sage Essential Oil is known for excellent benefits when used to treat PMS, hot flashes, depression, anxiety and insomnia. It is a good insect repellent for mosquitoes and can be used to treat bug bites, as well. Do not use during pregnancy.
- Tea Tree Oil is a great insect repellent and considered safe during pregnancy, though should not be used during labor.
- Orange Essential Oil, like other citrus oils, is said to have insect repellent properties. Some of the more common uses of orange essential oil are as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, deodorant and digestive aid. It has also been applied to combat colds, constipation, dull skin, flatulence, the flu, gums, slow digestion, and stress. The aroma is fantastic for DIY room fresheners and in diffusers. It is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy.
- Geranium Essential Oil is another essential oil, typically believed to be safe to use during pregnancy. It is great as an insect repellent, even for lice, and may even be more effective than Tea Tree oil, for that purpose. It is also useful to fight insomnia, when diffused into the air and is said to nourish and rehydrate dry skin, so it would be a good choice in lotions and face washes. It has also shown promise in relieving the symptoms of eczema.
- Thyme Essential Oil is an effective bactericide. It is antiseptic, antimicrobial, astringent a great immune system booster and an effective insecticide. It has been said to help with circulatory, respiratory and digestive problems. WARNING: Thyme oil may inhibit blood clotting. Be careful of interactions with prescription medications for this condition. It should be avoided during pregnancy.
This is the recipe I concocted for our first batch of mosquito repellent. It has been extremely effective and I have used it on children five and up. I am not a doctor, so I can only share with you what has worked for my own family and urge you to do the research to make the best choices for your own. I’m excited to be able to share our natural solution to a common problem that comes from summer. Each step I take into a more natural alternative lifestyle, with my family, inspires me and gives me confidence to expand on what I already know and to dig deeper into what’s available to counteract the harmful effects of our “processed” culture.
- Place all the ingredients in the bottle.
- Shake to combine.
- Spray on exposed skin to prevent bug bites.
- Repeat every 2 hours.
- Mixture will separate after sitting, so shake before each use.
Do you have any all natural, DIY changes you have made in your own family? Please share your best tips and ideas in the comments. I love hearing from you!
.. My sources and resources that you may find useful: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Additional Tips and Warnings:
- As always with essential oils, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a health practitioner before using.
- Extreme caution should be used when using essential oils on young children.
- Always perform a patch test to check for an allergic reaction before using an essential oil for the first time.
- Always label homemade products well.
- Dark-colored bottles work best for products containing essential oils. Store in a cool, dark place when not using.