Buzz away: homemade insect repellent with essential oils

Posted on Thu, May 04, 2017 by Whee Main Ching

Buzz away: homemade insect repellent with essential oils

With spring well underway and summer rolling around the corner, the great outdoors, bbqs and campfires beckon. And so do mosquitoes, ticks, flies, fleas and a range of other pesky critters. Embrace the fun but not unwelcome company by concocting your own bug spray with essential oils.

Do essential oils really make effective DIY bug sprays?
Were sure many of you are no stranger to putting essential oils in your diffusers to make your house smell like a million bucks. But to use it as a key ingredient in homemade insect repellent, well…do they work at all? We heard you.

Think of it this way. Using essential oils in homemade insect repellents is pretty much like harnessing the survival instincts of some plants and trees, something which theyve been doing since the beginning of time. If these flora and trees in the wild have the ingenious capability of making harmful insects and bugs run far far away from them just by emitting their natural scent, wouldnt their essential oils (usually in pure, concentrated forms) harvested from these intelligent plants be able to give us the same kind of protection? Besides, what smells awful and deadly to insects would be smelling delightful to us humans. Au naturale, chemical-free and oh-so-great-smelling. Frankly, theres every reason to give natural homemade insect repellent a shot.   

Top essential oils for DIY homemade insect repellents
To help you decide which essential oil(s) to include in your homemade insect repellent, the following list of essential oils is popularly known to be effective on several common pests. And yes, all of them smell wonderful, were sure most of you will agree with us.


Essential oil repellents


Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Thyme, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Clove, Sage, Geranium, Tea Tree, Citronella


Cedarwood, Thyme, Peppermint, Geranium, Melaleuca, Citronella

Flies & Gnats

Eucalyptus, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Geranium, Cedarwood, Melaleuca


Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Cedarwood, Citronella

What you need for DIY spray-on insect repellent (yields about 2 oz)
Just 5 things to be exact:
1) A suitable carrier oil
2) 10-20 drops of your preferred essential oils (were using a 2 oz spray bottle. Please adjust the amount of essential oil accordingly if youre using a bigger bottle)
3) water
4) witch hazel or vodka (the straight type, not those infused with flavors or sugar)
5) 2 oz spray bottle

Whats a suitable carrier oil for a DIY insect repellent spray?
Its good to dilute concentrated essential oils when applying topically on the skin as that will minimize skin irritation. Moreover, a good carrier oil also makes it easier for the essential oils to be delivered into the skin where they can exert their healthful benefits. Last but not least, carrier oils themselves are skin-nourishing moisturizers - who can resist an extra layer of moisture for supple, radiant skin while driving away irritating mozzies and fleas?

Good oil carriers for a homemade insect repellent recipe include:
- Jojoba oil: deeply moisturizing, lightweight and quickly absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy layer
- Sweet almond oil: packed with skin-supporting antioxidants and quickly absorbed though it can be slightly thicker than jojoba oil
- Fractionated coconut oil: non greasy, absorbs well and doesnt have a discernible scent

Effective essential oil combo for homemade bug spray
Frankly, any combination of the bug-repelling essential oils we mentioned earlier in this article works well at fending off the critters while youre enjoying the great outdoors. It really boils down to how you want to smell to your adventure buddies. And theres no reason why you cant be playing alchemist by coming up with your very own brand of DIY insect repellent!

Aromatic scent

Essential oils


Geranium (10 drops) + Lavender (4 drops) + Rosemary (4 drops) + Patchouli (2 drops)


Lemon (12 drops) + Peppermint (5 drops) + Eucalyptus (3 drops)


Lavender (12 drops) + Cedarwood (5 drops) + Patchouli (3 drops)


Rosemary (12 drops) + Cedarwood (5 drops) + Cinnamon (3 drops)

Putting together your DIY essential oil bug spray
Step 1: Fill half the spray bottle with water. Then top with witch hazel or vodka, leaving a little room for shaking.
Step 2: Add your essential oil combo according to our recommendation or create your own.
Step 3: Shake thoroughly before spraying on your skin so that everything is well mixed.

Homemade insect repellent for the house
Hah, they dont seem to leave you alone, dont they? Its equally easy to show irritating pests the door when youre indoors.

Simply choose your essential oil and combine 2.5 teaspoons of it with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz it throughout the house. Or add a few drops of the essential oil (one or two types should suffice) to your oil diffuser and take pleasure in the wonderful aroma while staying assured that insects are fleeing your house.

Things to note
If youre pregnant or have particularly sensitive skin, please consult your doctor before using any essential oil on your skin or in the diffuser.

Its recommended to keep the proportion of the essential oils to less than 15% in your topical bug spray to minimize the chances of triggering any skin irritation. If youre using the homemade bug spray on your kids, you may wish to start with a lower essential oil content to see how theyll take to the spray since theyve very delicate skin.  

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