All-Natural Bug Repellent

bug repellentI can’t put this off any longer.  Some of you may have noticed that I like to focus on beauty.  I like to stick to girly and glamorous posts that are fun, but last night my family and I sat on the patio-I was out of my DIY bug spray but thought we would be OK.  Uh….was I wrong.  All of us have big red bumps on our legs from mosquitos.  Bad move on my part.  Oh, and did you know, mosquitos are attracted to estrogen??   Gotta do it, It’s BUG WEEK!

A DIY bug spray is an essential summer staple in my part of the world.  Ticks and fleas are really bad this year and now that we’ve had a full weekend of rain, I’m sure the mosquitos are organizing their armies as we speak.  Nothing is worse then trying to relax on the patio with a glass of Riesling while slapping the you know what out of yourself, spilling your wine and getting more and more irritated as each second passes-so much for patio time!

Most bug sprays seriously make me want to GAG.  Seriously so toxic.  Like, I think I’d rather get slapped in the face then be near someone who sprays themselves and everyone within 10 feet of them down with bug spray poison!  I’m sure a lot of you have heard of DEET.  It’s the scary ingredient in most bug sprays and should be avoided at all cost.  Read below for the details…..

One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.

According to, Not only does DEET effect the human brain, it also is toxic to birds and aquatic life.  It has been found in 75% of water sources in the U.S.

DIY Bug SprayEssential oils are very effective in combating bugs.  Also, Apple Cider Vinegar works wonders when combined with oils.  Some essential oils that work well for repelling bugs are citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, melaleuca (tea tree), eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender and peppermint.

If you have never explored essential oils, they are at their best when it comes to bug bites and wounds.  You’ll be floored at how powerfully effective they truly are.  You gotta ditch the commercial bug spray-you will be so happy you did.

DIY Bug Spray

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (find it HERE)

1/4 cup Distilled Water

15 drops Citronella Essential Oil (find it HERE)

10 drops Rosemary Essential Oil (find it HERE)

3 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil (find it HERE)

10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (find it HERE)

5 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (find it HERE) (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass spray bottle and shake.
  2. Spray all over exposed skin while outdoors.
  3. Use as often as needed.

**If you find this recipe burns when sprayed on the skin, feel free to reduce the ACV.  Some skin is sensitive to apple cider vinegar.  I originally made this with NO water, just 1/2 a cup of ACV.  My kiddos didn’t say anything but it slightly stung me for about a minute after application.**

This is a really simple recipe to make.  It takes minutes and smells amazing!  Oh, the apple cider vinegar doesn’t smell so great but it does not smell AT ALL once it dries on your skin-no worries!  If you are concerned about the ACV smell, replace it with alcohol free witch hazel.  It works well too.

Make some bug spray and go enjoy the great outdoors!  Stay tuned for my next post on how to treat bug bites once you have them!

xx, Jenni



DIY Bug Spray


Jennifer Phillips
Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the natural skin care blog, Jenni Raincloud.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Bonnie Nelson
    May 29, 2014 / 7:48 am


    Can I use any combination of those that you listed in your text that work well for repelling bugs? I have peppermint, melaleuca and lemongrass…would that combo work or should I buy some citronella to go with them? I can’t handle the lavender smell.

    • May 29, 2014 / 8:00 am

      Hi Bonnie!! Your trio would work well, but Citronella is the heavy hitter in this recipe. If I were you I would try what you have, then if it’s not strong enough, get the citronella. Beware though-the citronella smells just like those citronella candles you get at any grocery store-it’s strong, but it’s a fresh smell.

  2. June 4, 2014 / 4:44 pm

    My friend tried 60 drops Lemongrass and 60 drops Lavender topped off with alcohol free witch hazel in a 4 oz bottle. It only worked for a little bit then the mosquitos came back 10 fold! These mosquitos were in Jamaica. I don’t know if that made a difference or not but they seemed to like it after they got used to it. I’ll try this recipe.

    • June 5, 2014 / 9:47 am

      Martha-That’s why I used the apple cider vinegar-I’ve heard it is the mother of all bug repellents! Our bug bites are down to a minimum using it. I would prefer to not spray vinegar on my skin because it’s so strong and also the initial smell but I’d rather deal then have mosquito bites! Wonder if the mosquitos in Jamaica are stronger then the US?! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. May 2, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Great share! We love essential oils and all of the wonderful uses they have ESPECIALLY if it means avoiding mosquito bites without toxic chemicals!

  4. Sue
    May 9, 2018 / 6:06 am

    Is this formula effective for ticks? My husband does alot of work in the yard and has found 4 ticks on himselfalready this Spring, gross! To avoid the DEET sprays I’d like to make something for him that’s equallyeffective.

  5. Sherri Topple
    July 12, 2020 / 3:12 pm

    Hi Jenni – thanks for sharing your recipes! I have an allergy to Eucalyptus and am wondering if you can recommend a good substitute for the Eucalyptus oil in the bug repellent and the vapour rub. Thanks!

    • Jenni
      July 17, 2020 / 4:32 pm

      Sherri-I would just omit it. You could add 5 drops of any of the other oils except lemongrass!

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