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All Natural DIY Bug Spray

Here’s a simple DIY bug spray recipe that’s all natural and safe to use for everyone in your family! Best of all, it will have you repelling bugs and smelling like you’ve been at a spa!

Summer is in full swing now and as much as I love spending time outdoors, I really dislike bug bites.

What I hate even worse, though, are those chemicals, like DEET, that’s in most brand name bug sprays.

Although public health organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPS) as well as consumer protection groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tell us that DEET is considered safe and effective when used as directed, I personally can’t stand the way they smell nor the way it lingers long afterwards.

I’ve experienced mild headaches and nasal irritation not to mention skin bumps after using these consumer brand bug sprays and I’ve felt the same way even with those that say that they’re “all natural”.

Is All Natural All That Effective?

I had similar issues even with these “all natural DEET free” bug spray I borrowed from my friend recently.

Organic Bug Repellent from Costco
Image taken from Costco website

Although it didn’t smell as overpowering as those bug sprays containing DEET, I still didn’t like how it felt on my skin, nor did I think it was all that effective in warding off bug bites.

I still came away with a few sand fly bites after a day at the beach and the worst part of it was how hard it was to wash off afterwards.

Because I have some safety concerns using anything that I can’t wash off with soap and water, I decided to make my own DIY version using essential oils.

For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through any of my links, I may receive a small commission.

My DIY Bug Spray: What’s In It and What’s Not

Upon reviewing several studies and articles from a wide array of essential oils experts, I learned that the following oils may work at preventing bug bites:

  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Citronella
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender

This last one, lavender, was kind of a surprise to me since I love the smell of lavender; I was glad that I can finally have a bug spray that didn’t repulse me just as much as those pesky bugs!

So, in concocting my own DIY bug spray, I used only those oils that I liked the smell of and had available which were lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus (regular) and a proprietary blend called Purification from Young Living.

Although I found many essential oil aficionados swear by the effectiveness of lemon eucalyptus and citronella, I personally find these two oils way too overpowering for me.

This is why I used a blend like Purification which contains a bit of citronella and some tea tree oil which helped to balance everything out a bit. I also added some witch hazel for combining the oil with water and to help preserve the oils longer.

The DIY Bug Spray That Makes You Smell Like You’re At The Spa

Luckily, soon after I made this DIY bug spray, I had the chance to test it out on a few of my friends (DISCLAIMER: No animals or humans were harmed for this experiment…).

Although not everyone found these to be 100% effective against bug bites, both the bitten and the unbitten friends still thought that my DIY bug spray worked just as well if not better than some other all natural alternatives they’ve tried before.

Best of all, they unanimously agreed that my bug spray was THE best smelling bug spray they’ve ever used; Some even said it made them feel like they were at the spa!

As for me, bug bite or not, I was just happy to see my friends looking so relaxed and happy the whole time they were spending time with us outdoors.

Being able to spend time outside with friends after 4 long months of isolation due to COVID, without having to swat at mosquitos made this DIY bug spray so worth it!

Best of all, I enjoyed peace of mind knowing that this bug spray was 100% safe and natural for even the youngest ones present.

How Safe Is My Home Made Bug Spray?

All of these oils I used, at the dilution I used, are considered safe to use with and around children as young as 2 and up.

Moreover, the oils that I used are all high quality 100% therapeutic grade –which means they’re guaranteed for authenticity and purity and they don’t contain any synthetic fillers, fragrances or chemical preservatives.

Image from Young Living

All in all, when used as directed, these all natural, high quality essential oils are probably much safer to use than many of those bug sprays containing DEET or petroleum based chemicals.

Who would want to put anything on your skin let alone family and friends’ something that you’d use to run your car? I wouldn’t…would you?

Recipe for DIY Bug Spray

Here are the instructions and the supplies you’ll need to make your home made version:

What You’ll Need:

One 2 oz amber glass spray bottle (I got mine from Amazon)

  • 15 drops of lavender oil
  • 10 drops of peppermint oil
  • 5 drops of eucalyptus
  • 3 drops of Purification oil blend (optional)
  • 1 ounce of witch hazel (or about 2 tablespoons) (I like this one from The Homestead Company or this one)
  • 1 1/4 ounce (2 1/2 tablespoons) of distilled water

I wouldn’t recommend making a larger 16 ounce sized bug spray, let’s say, since essential oils, once diluted don’t work as well over time (3-4 days max?).


Add the essential oils, from lavender to Purification (if using) into your glass spray bottle. Then add in witch hazel and water. Screw on the sprayer top and shake the bottle to evenly distribute the oils into the liquid. Enjoy your home made Outdoor Spa Spray (a.k.a. bug spray)!

Some Safety Precautions About Using Essential Oils

Although I’ve not experienced any allergies or skin rashes upon using any of the oils I’ve used in my DIY bug spray, your skin can react differently.

To be safe, test a small amount of each oil (like 1 drop) by diluting it with 1-2 spoon fulls of coconut oil or even olive oil and rub it on a small patch of skin. I strongly suggest that you don’t ever use these oils directly onto your skin as these oils are highly concentrated versions of the real thing.

For comparison, 1 drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to drinking 28 cups of peppermint tea so use it sparingly especially if testing it out for the first time.

Also, peppermint and eucalyptus oils are both “hot” oils meaning they can feel warm on your skin if used “neat”-or without any carrier oils.

Lastly, if you’re going to be trekking out to an area that’s known to be a “hot bed” for bug borne diseases, be sure to use a stronger bug spray containing DEET.

As good as these botanical oils are, they’re not proven to be 100% effective against tick and other bug bites with the exception of perhaps lemon eucalyptus oils.

Here’s to A Bug Free Summer!

It’s my belief that using anything on yourself or your children should never cause discomfort or unease especially if you can find an all natural alternative that’s just as effective.

My DIY bug spray is the best smelling bug spray I’ve used if not all that I need in an insect repellent.

If you make this home made bug spray, I’d love to know what your experience is like! Be sure to message me on Instagram or tell me in the comments below if it works for you?

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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  1. This is a great recipe! I’m definitely going to try this. I can’t step outside at night without getting bit several times. It’s terrible!

    And I feel the same way about the store bought bug sprays. They choke me up and smell horrible! I don’t feel safe breathing it in.

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