Homemade Bug Spray (Kid Friendly + Adult Recipes)

Sharing is caring!

Homemade Bug SprayI can’t put this off any longer.  I’m sure some of you may have noticed that I like to focus on green 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?? 

A bug spray is an essential summer staple in my neck of the woods and being without it and getting eating alive confirmed that my homemade bug spray works!

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!

Why I Avoid DEET

Environmental Working Group identifies DEET (in concentrations less than 30 percent) as one of its top picks to reduce the risk of life-altering disease from tick and mosquito bites with low toxicity concerns. But the organization stresses that precaution and proper application is essential. 

Often times, reapplying bug spray is necessary. This can screw up the opinion that DEET is safe at 30% concentration. If you reapply deet bug spray multiple times a day, your risk of irritation, neurotoxicity, and kidney/liver damage greatly increases. Since the EWG knows this ingredient to be safe under 30% concentration, it’s best to avoid oversaturation and absorption – which can happen when you apply too much DEET for too long.

DEET has an impressive list of side effects you should be aware of.

Side Effects of DEET:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Seizures
  • Chronic headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory disorders 
  • Skin conditions
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Rashes

Homemade Bug Spray

Essential Oils and DIY Bug Repellent:

Some essential oils that work well for repelling bugs are citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender and peppermint. Find all these oils HERE where they’re affordable and organic.

Studies have shown that lavender essential oil  is effective at repelling mosquitoes. Plus, lavender is considered safe for topical use without diluting it. I never go far without lavender essential oil, especially in the summer!

Scientific evidence suggests that citronella oil is an effective alternative repellent against mosquitos and has a protection time of about two hours. The EPA has categorized citronella oil as an insect repellent due to its high efficacy, low toxicity and customer satisfaction, but it may not be as effective in higher temperatures.

Citrus oils like lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit etc. are also effective at repelling not just mosquitos but also fleas, aphids, flies and spiders! However, adding citrus oils should be done for homemade bug sprays meant for use in the shade or in the evening since citrus oils can cause photosensitivity.

2005 study looked at several compounds in thyme oil and found that they had a similar duration and repellency to deet. This oil needs to be diluted though-don’t apply it directly!

2011 study found that lemongrass oil was 74-95% effective for up to 2.5 hours against mosquitoes. In combination with more powerful essential oils, lemongrass can be a great addition to a DIY bug spray.

Also, essential oils aren’t just effective bug repellents, they also fantastic healers! Essential oils can be used to soothe and heal bug bites and wounds as well.  You’ll be floored at how powerfully effective they truly are.  

DIY Bug Spray (Kid Friendly)

1/2 cup Witch Hazel (find it HERE)

15 drops Citronella Essential Oil (find it HERE)

5 drops Lemon Essential Oil (find it HERE)

10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (find it HERE)

5 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (find it HERE


  1. Combine all ingredients in a 4 ounce glass spray bottle and shake.
  2. Spray all over exposed skin while outdoors.
  3. Use as often as needed.

Spray liberally to your skin, clothes and even hair while outside. You can spray as often as you like but typically these essential oils are known to repel for 60 minutes to 2 hours. 

This recipe is safe for children 3 and up. If you plan to use it on yourself and need a stronger version, keep the 1/2 cup of witch hazel and follow to suggestion below or double the essential oils in the kid friendly recipe.

DIY Bug Spray (Adults Only!)

1/2 cup Witch Hazel (find it HERE)

15 drops Citronella Essential Oil (find it HERE)

15 drops Lavender Essential Oil (find it HERE)

5 drops Thyme Essential Oil (find it HERE)

4 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil (find it HERE)

I’ll warn you, the above recipe is hard core and doesn’t smell amazing. Thyme and citronella are very overpowering. Lemongrass has a nice scent but too much of it can burn your skin. Lavender is added in hopes of toning down the overall scent. 

Also, if you hate the smell of citronella-look into THIS essential oil blend as well as THIS one too. Both claim to repel bugs and can be used in place of my essential oil suggestions. 

How to Treat a Mosquito Bite

If you do get bit, try out my bug bite balm recipe for instant relief and healing! And for those dreaded tick bites, spider bites and rashes my easy antiseptic roll on is a must to keep handy during the warmer months. Tea Tree essential oil is another staple to get my family through the summer. For itchy rashes and poison ivy, you might be interested in my recipe for Homemade Calamine Lotion!

More Homemade Recipes to Repel Bugs!

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus:

If you’d rather just buy a bug spray but want to keep it safe, I suggest THIS one. A 2016 reviewTrusted Source concluded that oil of lemon eucalyptus is an effective natural mosquito repellent. Plus, according to the CDC, products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective against mosquitoes. However, it is not recommended for use on children.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus shouldn’t be confused with lemon eucalyptus essential oil. They are not the same thing unfortunately!

Make some homemade bug spray and go enjoy the great outdoors!  

xx, Jenni


DIY Bug Spray


Sharing is caring!

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 7 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on living a natural lifestyle.

11 thoughts on “Homemade Bug Spray (Kid Friendly + Adult Recipes)”

  1. Jenni,

    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.

    1. 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. 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.

    1. 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. Pingback: All-Natural Bug Repellent – Short Hair

  4. Pingback: All-Natural Bug Repellent – Fitness Magazine

  5. Pingback: All-Natural Bug Repellent – Black Hair

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *