I am one of those people that bugs love. So living in the Midwest, I am intimately familiar with the discomfort of mosquito bites. I obviously want to keep the bugs at bay, but I don’t want to sacrifice my commitment to a nontoxic home in order to do so. That led me to develop this DIY natural bug spray recipe – a chemical-free insect repellant that actually works!
Keep reading for the recipe and to learn how each ingredient keeps bugs away without toxic chemicals.
(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)
An Alternative to Commercial Insect Repellants
Keeping my home chemical-free has been important to me for many years now. But that commitment has become even more valuable to me during my pregnancy!
While there are definitely some DEET-free and more natural bug spray alternatives on the market now, it can be difficult to find commercially available insect repellants that are completely free of iffy ingredients.
This – and the fact that it’s so easy! – has inspired me to make my own natural bug spray. Every May, I make a few bottles of it and place them strategically in the house, on our patio table, and in my purse so it’s available whenever we need it.
Even my husband, who was skeptical about DIY natural products at first, has fallen in love with this bug spray and learned the recipe so he can make it himself. It’s a must for him before he mows the lawn!
Ingredients in DIY Natural Bug Spray
All of the ingredients in this DIY natural bug spray recipe are natural and chemical-free. This spray’s insect-repelling power comes from essential oils.
Essential oils are generally a safe and effective way to repel bugs, and they are often used as an alternative to chemical-based insect repellents. Before using this natural insect repellant on your whole body, test it by spraying some on a small area of skin. Avoid getting the spray in your eyes. If you experience irritation, stop using the spray and reach out to your healthcare provider.
Citronella Essential Oil
Citronella essential oil is a natural insect repellent that can be used to keep mosquitoes, fleas, and other pests away. It is made from the leaves of the citronella grass plant, and it has a strong, lemony scent that bugs find unpleasant.
Like the other essential oils in my DIY natural bug spray, citronella works by repelling insects rather than killing them. It’s necessary to reapply citronella-based insect repellants every two hours for them to remain effective. Although this is more often than you need to reapply commercial, chemical-based bug sprays, I would rather use a natural product and need to apply it more! (1)
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is a natural insect repellent that can be used to keep mosquitoes, flies, spiders, and other pests away. The oil contains the compound menthol, which is repulsive to some insects. (1)
While I don’t mind the scent of citronella essential oil, I love adding peppermint oil because it brightens the scent of this bug spray up, instead of me just smelling like I’m trying to repel insects.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is an effective repellant for mosquitoes, flies, fleas, ticks, and lice, among other insects. It contains the compounds citral and geranyl acetate, which drive away bugs. (1, 2)
We’re adding witch hazel to our natural bug spray because it’s a natural astringent that can be used to preserve products with essential oils. It does this by killing bacteria and fungi, which can cause products to spoil. When used in conjunction with essential oils, witch hazel can help to create products that are safe and effective.
See also: DIY Natural Healthy Hair Spray Recipe
DIY Natural Bug Spray Recipe
This recipe makes a 4-oz bottle of bug spray. I sometimes make a big batch in a 16-oz bottle. If you’d like to do that, too, just multiply this recipe by 4!
- 4-oz glass spray bottle
- 2 oz witch hazel
- distilled water
- 20 drops citronella essential oil
- 15 drops peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
- Add your three essential oils to the glass spray bottle.
- Pour 2 ounces of witch hazel into the bottle.
- Fill the bottle almost to the top with distilled water. Replace the cap and shake thoroughly to mix.
- Spray onto skin before going outside during seasons when insects are active. Shake bottle thoroughly before each use.
I hope you love this DIY natural bug spray as much as I do! Make sure to tag @mamaembodied on Instagram when you make it! I would love to see your creations.