I 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
- Chronic headaches
- Respiratory disorders
- Skin conditions
- Slurred speech
- Joint and muscle pain
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.
A 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!
A 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)
- Combine all ingredients in a 4 ounce glass spray bottle and shake.
- Spray all over exposed skin while outdoors.
- 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!)
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.
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!