DIY Bug Repellent

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While summer is still a few weeks away, that didn’t stop me from being eaten alive by mosquitoes and biting flies this past week while working outside in my garden. I did find this lovely snail (pictured below) while digging holes for my cucumbers though, so despite the bites, this tiny garden surprise almost made up for them.
Garden Snail (c) Rebecca D Dillon
Here he is crawling along the column base on my porch. I ended up tossing him across the yard into the strip of grass on the other side of the sidewalk in hopes to keep him from wandering back toward my garden. In the meantime, since a garden does need constant care to flourish, I’ve gone back to using my handmade natural Lemon Mint shea butter soap and I haven’t been bit since.
The chemicals found in most bug and insect repellents really put me off, plus they tend to smell bad. So I like to make my own. Making your own mosquito repellent is really quite simple. There are a handful of essential oils that are useful for keeping biting insects away, many of which smell pleasant alone, or when combined with other oils. These natural essential oils include: Tea Tree, Citronella, Palmarosa, All Eucalyptus, All Cedar, Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemongrass. To make your own insect repellent, simply combine about 2% of your choice of essential oils known for repelling mosquitoes and other biting insects with a carrier oil like jojoba, rice bran, or even olive oil. If you’re looking for a less greasy oil, try using fractionated coconut oil. If oil is too greasy for you, try mixing your essential oil blend in distilled water and a little bit of emulsifier. Or mix your essential oil blend into your favorite unscented lotion. Some fun essential oil blends crafted to keep insects away include citronella, lemongrass, and lavender. Or try eucalyptus, peppermint and lemongrass. Lavender and tea tree is another good one, though tea tree oil can be a bit potent and often reminds me of paint thinner. You could also try combining lavender and geranium or cedar and sage which is more masculine in scent.
A great place to buy organic essential oils online at a great price is Mountain Rose Herbs. But if you prefer to buy a pre-made product, you can try the Lemongrass & Citronella Bug Repellent from Way Out Wax available from Mountain Rose Herbs. This 100% natural bug repellent is soy based and contains all natural lemongrass and citronella essential oils known for dissuading mosquitoes and black flies from troubling your outdoor pleasure.
If you’d like to learn more about essential oils and their uses, I recommend reading the book Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to The Use of Aromatic Oils In Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well Being by Julia Lawless.

And for those serious outdoorsy types, you may also want to try out Ojas Ayurveda’s Anti-Itchy Spray also available from Mountain Rose Herbs. It’s essential in treating Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and Stinging Nettles after exposure and contains an all natural blend of Organic Calendula and Mugwort extracts, organic Grain alcohol, organic Apple Cider Vinegar, filtered water, organic Menthol Crystals, Dead Sea Salt and a proprietary blend of organic healing essential oils. During the entire month of June, Mountain Rose Herb’s is offering this amazing Anti-Itcy Spray at 10% off.

For more ideas on creating your own natural diy bug repellent products, check out the article, Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipes and Other Ways to Deter Biting Insects from June of last year. Or learn how to make an easy Bug Away Handmilled Soap. Also, don’t forget to check out my handmade Exfoliating Lettuce Gardener’s Soap for clean, soft hands after digging in the dirt! (You can read a review of this amazing handmade goat milk soap here.) And learn how to make your own DIY Herb Markers!

What’s your favorite product to use to keep mosquitoes and biting flies away?


Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipes and Other Ways to Deter Biting Insects

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.


I was outside listening to my boyfriend play the guitar on Sunday and kept getting bitten. It was enough remind me that it’s mosquito season even though I’m not outdoors that often anymore. So I thought it fitting to share a natural bug repellent recipe that I found on Wellness Mama blog.

(photo credit: Good 4 You Herbals)

There are a handful of widely recognized essential oils that possess properties that naturally repel biting insects. These oils include: cedarwood, lavender, lemon, patchouli, neem, peppermint, rosemary, basil, thyme, citronella, lemongrass, pennyroyal, tea tree oil, geranium, catnip, and eucalyptus.

While the recipe from Wellness Mama doesn’t include all of these ingredients, you can use any combination of essential oils you like based on availability or scent preference. Her bug spray calls for including an essential oil blend, boiled water, and witch hazel though you can also make a repellent using an essential oil blend and a carrier oil such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or even rice bran oil which I like because it’s light but effective.

Wellness Mama Essential Oil Bug Spray


  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint  (Natural, organic essential oils available from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)


  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

Be sure to visit Wellness Mama for other terrific recipe ideas including how to make bug repellent from fresh or dried herbs, a super strong insect repelling recipe, and other simple insect repelling ideas. There’s also an article for making your own natural homemade sunscreen!

If you’re not a fan of spray on insect repellents, you may want to try a handmade soap that contains essential oils known for repelling biting insects. While soap is a wash off product, my brother always takes a bar of my Lemon Mint Soap with him camping as it contains lemongrass and peppermint and claims it works great for keeping biting insects at bay.

You can buy natural essential oils for your homemade soap recipes from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also find a simple handmilled soap recipe for Bug Away Handmilled Soap on Soap Deli News if you prefer to make your own.

(photo credit: Green Girls Market)

If you plan to be outdoors on a patio or garden area often, there are plants you can grow that naturally repel insects as well. These cultivated plants include: citronella grass, catnip, rosemary, peppermint, marigolds, lemon balm, garlic clove, eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender. Naturally having an herb garden that contains these plants by your favorite outdoor spot will mean fewer biting insects.

If you’re looking to harvest wild plant varieties, you can rub vanilla leaf on your skin to deter mosquitoes. This also works with mugwort, sagebrush, wormwood, wild bergamot, sweetfern and pineapple weed.

Note that the applications will only last up to one to hours and will then need to be reapplied. Looking to buy natural, organic essential oils for your own bug repellant? Be sure to check out the quality selection of organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs.