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Man Spraying Arm with Homemade Insect Repellent

Easy Homemade Insect Repellent: Dog and Kid Safe!

Why Make Your Own Bug Spray? 

What’s the first thing you do when you see a mosquito? If you’re like most people, you probably reach for a can of bug spray.

But we all know that most commercial bug sprays are loaded with harsh chemicals like DEET. Who wants that on their skin – or on their kids and fur babies?

At the same time, nobody wants to be covered in itchy bug bites. And we’ve all heard horror stories about the diseases insects can carry: the Zika virus, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and even malaria – just to name a few. 

The good news is there are natural alternatives! You can create your own homemade insect repellent using natural products like essential oils, olive oil and witch hazel. These are not only safe, they’re effective in repelling insects.

And if you use the right mix of essential oils, they actually smell pretty darned good.

Keep reading, and we’ll show you how to make your own mosquito spray using a few simple ingredients.

We’ll also share suggestions for homemade bug repellents that work against all kinds of insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, flies and more.

Do Natural Insect Repellents Really Work?

Yes, natural insect repellents really DO work in preventing insect bites! While the exact potency of natural ingredients may vary, the active components found in plants have been scientifically proven to have insect repelling properties. 

For example, studies have shown that the essential oils in garlic, lemon eucalyptus, cedar, and lemongrass can absolutely repel ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects.

Also, the compounds found in basil, peppermint, lavender, thyme, and other herbs are known to repel or even kill a variety of insects. 

The effectiveness of your homemade bug spray will depend on how well you’ve chosen your natural ingredients. Certain herbs, like lavender and basil, are better at warding off certain bugs than others. Cedar and lemongrass target other creepy crawlies.

For a good, all-around DEET-free formula, a simple route is to go with a good, insect-fighting essential oil blend. You can purchase one or make your own (see recipe below).

Also, it’s important to know that natural repellent sprays don’t have the staying power of their commercial chemical sprays. That means they need to be applied more frequently to keep working.

Best Essential Oils for Mosquito Spray

We all know that essential oils are hugely popular for personal use. And they’re added to hundreds of well-known beauty products, too.

But did you know that many of them are powerful insect fighters? We’ve dug into the research and compiled a list of top-performing, bug repelling essential oils in the list below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Essential oils are powerful plant extracts, and many are not safe for young children, pregnant/nursing mothers or pets. Always check with a Certified Aromatherapist for safety recommendations. Also, make sure to dilute essential oils for human use with the carrier oil of your choice, according to professional Aromatherapist guidelines.

We’ve consistently had great experiences with Plant (Shop Essentials Oils at Plant Therapy.) and highly recommend them! Please reach out to their on-staff Certified Aromatherapist with any questions on the following list:

Chart: Best Essential Oils for Mosquito Spray

What Do I Need to Make My Own Homemade Mosquito Repellent?

Making your own homemade mosquito repellent doesn’t have to be complicated. To create a basic repellent, you just need a few basic items:

  • Essential oils
    Choose oils that have been proven to have insect repelling properties such as lavender, basil, peppermint, cedar, and lemon eucalyptus. Check out our handy table above.
  • Distilled water
    Regular tap water can contain chlorine or other minerals that interfere with the plant compounds you’re using.
  • Plastic or Glass spray bottle
    Choose a clean spray bottle with a tight seal to make sure that your repellent stays fresh.
  • Carrier oil
    Light carrier oils help the essential oils blend better with the water and to disperse better when sprayed. 
  • Isopropyl alcohol or Witch hazel
    Alcohol and/or witch hazel keep the bug spray fresh and allow it to quickly evaporate on the skin.
  • Mortar and pestle (optional)
    Feel free to add fresh herbs from your vegetable garden or other fresh outdoor plants like citronella. Crush them well to release all their compounds.

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary ingredients, you’ll be ready to create your very own homemade mosquito repellent. 

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Recipe for Homemade Insect Repellent Spray

a bottle of thyme essential oil and twigs for homemade insect repellent

Homemade Insect Repellent Spray

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Making your own homemade insect repellent can be a fun and smart way to protect against bugs, while avoiding harmful chemicals. Here is a simple kid-safe, dog-safe recipe for an insect repellent spray that can be made with ingredients you may already have (or can easily purchase here).


  • 26 drops Cedarwood essential oil
  • 20 drops Citronella essential oil
  • 27 drops Geranium essential oil
  • 34 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 27 drops Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 7 drops Spearmint essential oil
  • 27 drops Thyme essential oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1/2 cup witch hazel
  • 1 tablespoon carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil


  1. Mix together until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  2. Pour the mixture into a glass spray bottle and shake well. 
  3. Spray onto the skin or clothes as needed to prevent insect bites.


This homemade spray should last for up to a month if stored in a cool, dry place. For best results, spray at least 10 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply every few hours as needed.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

How Can I Make Homemade Insect Repellent for Dogs?

Similar to human beings, dogs can also benefit from natural insect repellents. Here is a recipe for an insect repellent for dogs that can be easily made at home:


  • 1/2 cup of distilled water
  • ​1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 teaspoon oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemongrass oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cedarwood oil


In a bowl, mix the oils together until they’re evenly distributed. Slowly add the water while mixing until all the ingredients are well blended. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well. 

Spray the mixture onto the dog’s fur as needed to repel insects. For your dog’s face, apply with your hands, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth.

This homemade insect repellent should last for up to one month if stored in a cool, dry place. For best results, spray at least 10 minutes before taking the dog outdoors and apply every few hours as needed.

Some Tips for Making Your Bug Spray More Effective

It’s great to make your own natural bug repellents at home, but sometimes it’s hard to get perfect results. Here are some tips to make your homemade bug spray more effective:

  • Adjust the concentrations of the essential oils if necessary and experiment with different ratios. But remember that more isn’t always better! Start with a low dilution and increase as needed.
  • On that same note, make sure to do a patch test on skin and clothing the first time using, in case of any adverse effect. You could avoid skin irritation, serious allergic reactions and possible staining on your clothes.
  • Make sure to buy pure, high-quality essential oils, as lower quality oils won’t be as effective. Our favorite suppliers include Plant Therapy, Mountain Rose Herbs, Rocky Mountain Oils and Eden’s Garden. That list is far from exhaustive, though, so use the supplier you know and trust.
  • Always shake the spray before use to ensure all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Keep the spray away from eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Try to extend the longevity of the spray by storing it in a cool, dark place.
  • Reapply the bug spray every few hours, or after swimming, bathing or exercising.
  • If you’re still having trouble keeping insects away, consider adding other natural repellents to the ones you’re already using. Different bugs tolerate and are repelled by different oils.

Other Natural Bug Spray Recipes to Try

If the homemade bug spray recipe above doesn’t quite do the trick, then here are a few other DIY bug spray recipes that you can try:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Bug Spray: This bug spray can be made simply by mixing 10 drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cups of water. Be sure to shake the mixture well before using.

2. Citrus Essential Oil Bug Spray: Combine 20 drops of essential oil such as lemon or orange, and mix in with 1/4 cup of vodka and 1/4 cup of distilled water. This can be stored in an airtight container and sprayed directly onto the skin. Citrus oil can can cause photo-senstivity, so pay attention to any skin reaction.

3. Garden Garlic Bug Spray: Want a natural repellent for garden pests? This bug spray can be quickly mixed together by combining 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and 1 cup of hot water in a blender. Once blended, this mixture can be strained and stored in a spray bottle for easy application to garden plants.

4. Neem Oil Garden Bug Spray: Combine equal parts water and neem oil, plus a small amount of dish soap. Combine and store in a spray bottle, then apply to garden plants as needed for insect pest control. 

Neem oil is a powerful natural insecticide in its own right and has been used for hundreds of years in gardening and agriculture. But is it safe for humans and beneficial insects? The US Environmental Protection Agency says Yes: “No risk to human health is expected from the use of Cold Pressed Neem Oil because of its low toxicity via all route of exposure… there is no reason to believe that any nontarget organisms, including honeybees and other beneficial insects, would be adversely affected by the use of Cold Pressed Neem Oil.”

Each of these recipes can help to keep bugs away, but remember that bug sprays don’t always give a perfect solution. You can take other measures such as wearing long sleeves, avoiding going out at dusk or early morning, and removing any standing water from around your home.

Final Thoughts

PIN Make Your Own Insect Repellent

When it comes to keeping insect pests at bay, there are plenty of natural options to choose from. We’ve given just a few!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the essential oils listed above. Mix and match till you find the combo that works best for you and smells good, too. 🙂

Remember to follow the dilution guidelines, and never use unapproved essential oils on kids, pets or pregnant or nursing mothers.

Finally, make sure to educate yourself about the plants and oils that you’re using in your DIY bug sprays. And always be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Happy mixing!

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