Homemade Insect Repellent: Keeping You Safe from Bugs and Mosquitoes

Insect repellent
Written by Bradley Page

Troublesome bugs, mosquitoes and other forms of insects can sometimes ruin your day. What’s more, they can leave marks and swelling on your body after biting you. Although many insect remedies are selling on the market, you may be allergic to them. Therefore, making your own homemade insect repellent might just work in your favor to remove those unwanted pests that may be out to drive you crazy.

An insect repellent is a form of liquid substance that you rub or spray on your skin to protect your body from getting insect bites. Another name for insect repellent is bug spray. You can also spray the substance on your clothes to discourage insects from crawling or landing on you.

The repellent is a powerful substance that discourages various types of insects from coming near you. Insects usually zero in on you by using their instincts to follow your odor, body heat and so on.

See also: Best Mosquito Repellent: Choosing a Product That Works Best in the Wild

Once the repellent is rubbed or sprayed on your body or clothing, it releases a toxin that confuses insects close by. It does not kill the insects, but rather it keeps them at bay so you can enjoy your day better.

Homemade Bug and Mosquito Repellent Recipes

Knowing how to make your own repellent to keep the insects away can put you one step ahead of the game so that you do not have to always put up with the problem of bugs crawling on you or any mosquitoes landing on your body.

By making sure to make your own insect repellent at home and keeping it close by, you are limiting any chances of the pesky little pests ruining your day.

Basic natural repellent spray for insects

  • For preservation you should use ½ teaspoon of vodka.
  • Use 2 tablespoons of either witch hazel or vodka. To make the repellent stronger, you can use both if you like.
  • Use 2 tablespoons of one of the following: yoyoba oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, almond oil or neem oil that has in it the ingredients of natural insecticidal compounds. To make the repellent more powerful, you can combine and use all the oils mentioned.
  • 100 – 110 drops of essential oil.

Sample of essential oil blend bug repellent:

  • 15 drops of cedar essential oil.
  • 15 drops of Rose Marie essential oil.
  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil, preferable Lavandula angustifolia. Please not that “Lavender (40 – 42) essential oil” does not carry the same qualities as Lavandula.
  • 55 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil as replacement for DEET to discourage insects from crawling on you. However, lemon eucalyptus oil is not recommended for use on children who are under the age of 3 years old.

Simple directions to follow:

  • Put the liquids into a single 3 or 4 oz spray bottle.
  • Include the essential oils into the bottle.
  • Shake the bottle well.
  • Your homemade repellent is ready use.

For effective use, you should reapply the spray to your body or clothing every few hours.

See tutorial below about how to make mosquito repellent without using essential oils:

Below are 5 simple additional insect repellents you can do, just in case if you fancy trying them:

Lavender vanilla mosquito repellent

Ingredients to gather:   

  • 3-4 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Distilled water
  • 3-4 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil

Directions to follow:

  • Pour lemon juice, vanilla extract and lavender essential oil into an 8 oz spray bottle.
  • Pour in distilled water until bottle is filled.
  • Shake properly so all the ingredients are mixed into one.
  • Spray the content on your skin or clothing to ward off mosquito.

Homemade organic insect repellent


  • 1L distilled Water
  • 2ml organic liquid soap
  • 5 ml Neem oil

Directions to follow:

  • Your first step is for you to pour out the water into the container bottle you are using
  • Include your liquid soap and neem oil
  • Shake well and then put it on your skin and clothing

Tick and mosquito repellent


  • 2 oz of castor oil
  • 15 drops of citronella oil
  • 5 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 6 oz witch hazel
  • 15 drops of eucalyptus oil

Directions to follow:

  • Pour all your ingredients into the bottle you are using to spray
  • Shake well before apply liquid to skin and clothing

Another mosquito repellent you can make at home


  • 5 oz of whole cloves
  • 16 oz rubbing alcohol
  • 5 oz baby oil. You can also use other types of oils such as sesame, almond, lavender, funnel, chamomile and others.

Directions to follow:

  • Put cloves to settle in the alcohol and leave to saturate for about 4 days, make sure to stir the liquid each morning and evening.
  • After stirring for 4 days, strain the alcohol and put the strained liquid into a spray bottle. Then add the oil to it.
  • Shake vigorously
  • Spray on skin and clothing

Lemon eucalyptus


  • Witch hazel or sunflower oil
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil

Directions to follow:

  • Separate 10 parts of witch hazel or sunflower and mix one part of eucalyptus oil to each part.
  • Spray or rub on your skin.

See tutorial below about making your natural repellent:

Benefits of the Homemade Insect Repellent

  • Purity. Instead of having to put up with plenty chemicals in the sprays like what manufacturers put into normal repellents, your own home-based remedy is natural and does not contain any harmful effects. In fact, because the recipe is so pure, you can safely use it on children and even your household pets.
  • Carries no bad odor. Some natural repellents carry a not so good smelling odor that turns people off from you. While making your own insect discourager, you can choose the type of ingredients you prefer. In fact, the smells that essential oils give off are usually pleasant and so wearing your own homemade product will not attract the wrong comments.
  • Easy to make. Your homemade product is easy to make and requires no difficult scientific input. Since it is so easy to make, within minutes you can complete the job by hand at home. In addition, the essential oils you use to make the repellent are safe and thus your children can assist in creating the well needed bug spray as well.
  • Can be used otherwise. Not only can you use your homemade repellent to protect your exposed skin from irritable insects, but it is safe use for your garden and throughout the home as well. Take for example your drawers, if bugs and other insects often visit your drawers, you can stop them by soaking cotton balls full of the repellent and place them inside the draws. In no time your home will become safer from insects and you can have your homemade product to thank for it.
  • Safe to use near food. While commercial repellents might be dangerous to use near food, your homemade insect resistant item is safe to use whenever in the near vicinity of food. Therefore, you and your entire family can feast in safety around the dining table at dinner time without any effects of chemicals absorbing into their food.  In fact, your homemade item is so food-safe that you can consider using it during summer dinner parties as floating votive candles.
  • Can be used as a homemade beauty product. If you are interested in looking great, your homemade insect resistor can double up and serve as a beauty product as well. Since the essential oils are not harmful to your skin, you can reap the benefit of having to use it as a great beauty product that will let you feel looking confident, especially when you are out in public.
  • You get to choose your own fragrance. Commercial repellent might consist of unpleasant smell that might turn you off as well as others around you. Since you may not like the scent that some of the essential oils generate, it is better for you to choose the one or ones that are most suitable to your taste.
  • You have more options. While commercial repellents do not give you many options to choose from, you can have various options when brewing your own product. You can decide which scent you want based on the essential oil you decide to go with.

Why Make Your Own Repellent?

You might find it necessary to make your own insect repellent for a number of different reasons. If so, go ahead and get adventurous. Here are some reasons why you should take time out to create your own repellent:

#1 You may be allergic to normal repellents

For some people, insect repellents make them sick and nauseated because they have in them some nasty chemicals that can harm them.

If you are the type of person whom is allergic to normal repellents then you can try making your own at home. When making your own repellent at home, you can do without the ingredients that make you sick.

Instead, choose what agrees with your body like water, witch hazel and essential oils to let off a good smell. Chemically treated sprays are sometimes enemies of your body. Therefore, protect your body by treating it right and giving it the highest of respect that it deserves.

#2 You do not like the smell of normal repellent

If the smell of normal repellent turns you off and yet you have the need to protect your body from bugs or mosquitoes then you should go ahead and make your own at home. Choose pleasant smelling ingredients that you will feel comfortable with while bringing confusion to troublesome insects in your immediate vicinity.

Natural essential oils produce a much more pleasant smell and do not make you stuffy or feeling sick. Some essential oils you can use when added to other ingredients to boost your sense of smell are:

  • Peppermint
  • Cypress
  • Lemon
  • Citronella
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Bergamot
  • Rose geranium

Warnings to note: pregnant women or nursing mothers are advised to consult their medical practitioner before using any of the above essential oils. Other things to consider are:

  • To apply caution with the oils when spraying or rubbing on children.
  • To label your homemade products appropriately so that you do not become confused.
  • It is best to pour essential oil in dark bottles so that it can retain its strength longer.
  • If you are using an essential oil for the first time, make sure you are not allergic to it before applying it to your skin or clothing.

#3 Price for normal repellents are too expensive

Why spend plenty money buying normal repellents at the store when you can easily make your own using much cheaper ingredients? For top insect repellents, see our must-read article for more options.

Take for example, instead of using what the manufacturer uses like DEET, which is a dominant active ingredient manufacturer of the product includes in it to repel insects, you can instead boil some water and add some witch hazel to it. This is a great way to beat the price hike.

#4 You love the challenge of being unique

Making your own household bug and mosquito repellent can give you the chance to stand out unique and be yourself. If you love the challenge of being yourself, then creating your own repellent can give you the confidence to practice your own uniqueness.

However, if you are not scientifically minded to know which ingredients to use, it is better you follow instructions given from experts about how to create your own repellent. To find written instructions on how to make your own insect resistant spray, you can do a search on Google.

The Bottom Line

Having your own homemade repellent can make you feel comfortable with your surroundings. You do not have to worry about putting up with obnoxious smell and you can live free of insects for a long time. As you continue using your homespun creation, your skin may even start looking smoother and healthier because of the natural ingredients you spray or rub on it.

What better way to protect your skin than to use on it natural ingredients that are beneficial to giving it a long lasting healthy finishing touch. You will never regret making your own repellent at home and you can always introduce it to other family members as well as friends.

For more tips on how to choose the best homemade insect repellent, see our earlier article on this.

Featured Image Source:


Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!