How To: Make Your Own Insect Repellent
To keep pesky pests at bay, without resorting to foul-smelling repellants, make your own homemade bug spray with all-natural ingredients. Here's how.
There’s great satisfaction in making something you could just as easily purchase ready-made. Besides that special feeling of pride, there are many benefits of making your own bug spray. The biggest? Your homemade bug spray will contain only those ingredients you choose to add; that means no harsh chemicals. Follow the simple instructions detailed below, and soon you’ll be able to actually enjoy spending time out on on your deck, porch, or patio. Happy summer!
With homemade bug spray, the “active ingredient” is essential oil. What kind? That’s entirely up to you. In India, many people swear by the effectiveness of neem oil, which comes from the seeds of a particular species of evergreen tree. But a wide variety of other essentials have been reported to work, with varying degrees of success. These include:
• Clove oil
• Citronella oil
• Geranium oil
• Orange oil
• Cedar oil
• Lavender oil
• Rosemary oil
• Thyme oil
• Eucalyptus oil
• Lemongrass oil
If you already have one of these in your medicine cabinet or kitchen pantry, give it a try. If purchasing a new bottle of essential oil, you’re probably going to find the best selection online or in a local health-food store.
Here’s a good general rule of thumb: For eight ounces of homemade bug spray, you need between 20 and 60 drops of essential oil. A greater number of drops will probably produce a more effective insect repellent, but a higher concentration of essential oil may irritate sensitive skin. Bear in mind that you might get good results by mixing oils. If you want to repel mosquitoes, a potent combination is eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, and lavender oil in equal measures.
Homemade bug spray isn’t just essential oil. In fact, in an eight-ounce batch, the vast majority of the liquid will be your chosen base—that is, an oil that’s safe and comfortable for application to skin. Coconut oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil are all popular.
After cleaning out the spray bottle you wish to use as your repellent dispenser, pour in the base oil, then add drops of your chosen essential oil or oils. That’s it!
– If you don’t like the feeling of oil on your skin, try mixing water and alcohol (or witch hazel), then add in your choice of essential oils.
– For ants, combine water (or vinegar) and detergent. Some essential oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus, are said to work well too.
– Are bedbugs your problem? Spray any you encounter with pure alcohol. Bear in mind that for the alcohol to work, you need a direct hit.
Keeping pests at bay is an ongoing battle. Experiment with different ingredients, then report your findings. We’re eager to know what worked for you!