DIY Herbal Bug Spray

photo credit: Dave Taylor

At first, I was a little hesitant to try out my own bug spray – its not really one of those things that is worth the risk of not working, especially on the kids. It actually sat in our car for about a month before we even used it – but when we did, I couldn’t even believe the results!

We were out at the lake, and on our way home The Hubs wanted to stop for a few minutes to throw in a fishing pole. The place that we stopped at had swarms of these giant-mosquito-looking bugs. I am not sure if they were actually mosquitos – but they were gross and huge and everywhere.

So, I opted to stay in the car with the kids and Vahe set out to face the bugs. What a man won’t do for a fish! :) I was so excited when I realized that I had the potentially-effective bug spray I had made in the car – and, since it was better than nothing, Vahe decided to try it out.

I couldn’t even believe it. I took this first picture of the passenger side of the car – probably 100 bugs just hanging out on my window.

This picture was taken of the driver’s window – where Vahe had sprayed himself down just outside the door, about 5 minutes before. ZERO bugs!

If this doesn’t make you a believer, I don’t know what else will! Since then, we have used it on the whole family around mosquitos without a bite. I would even go as far to say that this repellent works BETTER than a deet-laced pesticide spray that you’ll find in the store. Plus, it smells way better and all of the ingredients are completely natural and safe on everyone!

You’ll find varying recipes online for DIY bug spray, this is just how I decided to make mine. Since it has worked so well for us – I don’t think I will ever try anything different. If you use essential oils, chances are you have almost everything you need to make this bug repellent in the cupboard. The only oil I had to add to my collection was citronella – and it has turned out to be a great investment!

At first, the spray had a really awkward smell to it. When you smell all of the oils separately, you can kind of pick each one out when you smell the entire mixture. But, after a few days it gave off more of a woodsy-lemon scent that actually smells really nice!

So, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 oz witch hazel
  • 1 oz sweet almond oil – totally optional, I just added it so that the spray was slightly mosturizing. You can sub it for another ounce of witch hazel, or any another skin-safe liquid oil
  • 12 drops lavender oil
  • 12 drops tea tree oil
  • 12 drops peppermint oil
  • 12 drops lemongrass oil
  • 12 drops citronella oil
Pour all of the ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well before each use, it will separate quickly!

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  1. says

    Wish I had this a couple of weeks ago – before heading off to Yellowstone! I spent years feeling guilty for spraying all that OFF on you and your sisters – I’m so glad you have a healthy alternative for my grandchildren! ♥ Mama

  2. says

    I can offer a perfect solution – it has worked well for me and many others here in Timor Leste by keeping mosquitoes away (we have malaria + dengue and other interesting things to catch).
    This concoction is unnoticeable (i.e. doesn’t make you wrinkle your nose up!) within 5 minutes of spraying on
    Three items:
    1/3 Dettol (used as an antiseptic)
    1/3 of coconut oil or olive oil
    1/3 isopropyl alcohol (from the chemist/drug store)

    Put all in a mixing bottle and shake.
    Then decant into a small hand-squeeze / spray bottle (I buy a really small, cheap perfume bottle and throw the contents away)
    Put on in the morning and it will protect you all day (rain and/or sweat will remove it)

    I have further info here


  3. Lori says

    I add a few drops of patchouli oil and a few drops of lavender oil as I’m putting on my ‘daily’ lotion for over a year now and haven’t gotten a single bug bite since then. And as a plus, everyone comments on how great I smell…without a drop of ‘perfume’.

  4. Dylan says

    Have they moved the car? Sorry but as much as I love home remedies for everything why is he back ground in the first picture dArker then the second and if it is just window tint why have clouds suddenly appeared in just 5 minutes. Not to sound doubtful but hey if your going to say it’s the same place five minutes apart better to show the exacte same background.. No?

    • Elke Hawkins says

      No. Leisha took the photos one right after the other. The Before photo was taken looking out of the passenger window where no repellent was sprayed. Then she turned to look out of the driver window; after photo was taken looking out of the driver window – - – that is the side of the car where her husband used the repellent spray.

  5. Kalli says

    I’m so scared of mosquitoes and I really didn’t want to use commercially sold bug repellents for our baby and our dog’s sakes! I just made it according to your directions for this weekend’s trip to mountains! Looking forward seeing it work its magic!

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