Homemade Insect Repellent

Homemade insect repellent, BrownThumbMama.com

Being so sweet [cough cough] has its disadvantages. Whenever there’s a mosquito within a million yards of me, I get eaten alive. 4th of July was going to be torture unless I could come up with something to keep the skeeters away!

A little bit of research helped me piece together the ingredients to make my own bug spray. It kept the critters away, doesn’t have any weird chemicals, and was approved by the boys as “sufficiently manly-smelling” (i.e., it doesn’t smell like Skin-so-Soft).

Extra bonus: the essential oils are not expensive and can be used around the house in many ways. So it’s cheaper than store-bought bug spray too!

Homemade insect repellent, BrownThumbMama.com

Empty spray bottle (Figure out the volume before mixing so you don’t end up with more spray than will fit.)
1/2 c (4 oz) witch hazel
8 drops citronella essential oil
8 drops lemongrass essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil

Learn about the premium essential oils I recommend.

Put all ingredients in your spray bottle and shake to combine. I gave it a good shake before each application, although I’m not sure it was absolutely necessary.

You could also add tea tree essential oil, but I think it smells too much like Pine-Sol to spray on my body. Or does the Pine-Sol smell like tea tree…?!? That’s a debate for another day.

How do you keep the bugs away? Any other oils/mixtures you recommend? Tell us in the comments!

This article was featured on The Homestead Barn Hop!

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  1. says

    I am definitely going to try this, i live in southern Illinois and last year I walked around my house (literally took me 1 minute) and had 10+ bites on each leg (i counted) not including my arms!

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi, a friend made this for me and we have been using the same bottle for almost a year, It works fantasticly! Just one question, is anyone else that is a mosquito magnet, have the blood type O+ ?? I have been asking my friends, and it seems that the people who get bit most often are blood type O+

    • kristina says

      Me and my daughter are A+ blood types and get attacked so bad from the mosquitos, with big red itchy bumps it’s awful, even if we are only out a few minutes lol and we are in Windsor Canada. We definitely need too try this :)

      • Carole says

        I’m with Kristina on this one……I have type A+,and my husband is O+. If we are standing side by side, he will not get one bite! I on the other hand, will be eaten alive…. So, I don’t think blood type has anything to do with it. More like the pheromones. The homemade insect repellant works very well though!

  3. says

    Have you ever heard that the lemongrass might attract bees? We used a natural bug spray with several of these ingredients including lemongrass, and suddenly we had bees everywhere. I quick got my kids in when I realized there were more and more coming and googled essential oils that attract bees. I read that lemongrass is used by bee keepers to cause bees to swarm? Just curious if you had this experience or if it was a coincidence for us. I am all for natural products, but not a huge fan of bees swarming me!

  4. Texas garden freak says

    Y’all might try adding a few drops of Rosemary oil to this blend. I use it with just citronella in a base of water and a bit of almond oil. It seems to work not just on me, but also on plants for a variety of nuisance bugs. Rosemary oil alone on my kitty collars has significantly reduced flea/chigger bites also.

  5. Anonymous says

    Dear anonymous….I haven’t heard anything about blood type, but I do recall reading a display at Virginia Beach’s Marine Science Museum on mosquitos a few years back. Some interesting facts that stuck out were: There apparently is some type of substance in the blood of really fair skin/fair eyed people that cause mosquitos to prefer them (can’t remember what it was). It also said some females will travel up to 3 miles to feed on specific blood types (talk about picky). Maybe you could google this info to find out more details….

  6. says

    Citronella oil is believed to be one of the best bug repellents in the market. Mixing it with different oils will protect from bug bites, as well as give you an aromatic scent. It’s essential to use bug repellents wherever we go because these bug lurk everywhere, so we have to be very careful. Maurise Gelman

  7. says

    Sounds nice i made some using citronella lavender and cypress mixed in grapeseed oil have not been bitten once and i’m normally the one bitten in a crowd btw i am A+

  8. says

    I use lemongrass, lavender, peppermint and Rosemary in water and shake well but I think the witch hazel would be better. The grapeseed is a great idea. We went for a walk in a wooded area and the mosquitoes were swarming everywhere. My husband had on a black shirt and you could see millions landing on his shirt but they did not bite. In the open fields there were lots of bees but we did not have any bother us so the lemongrass did not seem to attract them.

  9. Jade Collins says

    Please be careful when advising people about Tea Tree Oil. Though it’s a very powerful oil, it has VERY adverse effects if you, like myself, own pets. I have two dogs, one is 1 year old, and the other just turned 13. Tea Tree Oil is VERY toxic to dogs, it ranges on your own pet, but it makes them very sick and in cases just the smell will kill them. I grabbed a large bottle of Tea Tree Oil as it’s very anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial. I wanted to make sure I kept my new apartment clean and Tidy. In the first month I used it twice to spray certain things down (My brothers bed smelled atrocious and it helped me get that smell out!) but within hours, my younger pup was puking her brains out! I gave it a couple weeks when she was normal and sprayed it again to clean with, Low and behold, My younger pup started puking her brains out… I stayed up all night with her that night, she was so bad… I thought I was going to lose her. She seemed like she was having a bout of parvo, Even fully vaccinated a dog can still get it… I took her to the vet the next day, he could smell it on me, It’s not a very light smell after all…. He informed me about it and it all made sense. Within hours of me spraying my little love had gotten so sick I feared I would lose her… I haven’t touched it in anything else since, and we’ve had zero problems of puking. So please be warned!

    • Anne May says

      You have to use it very diluted. I’ve seen it work wonders for skin conditions on dogs but you have to be careful because most of what you buy is 100% tea tree oil; never use this on or around pets without dilution.

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