Keep Bugs at Bay the Natural Way: 10 Natural Bug Spray Ideas

By: Peter
Last updated:
natural bug spray ideas

Biting bugs are a problem. They can transmit diseases and are all-around unpleasant. Nobody likes having a bunch of itchy, irritating bug bites.

However, bug sprays designed to repel insects can also be a problem. Specifically, bug sprays that contain the chemical DEET.

The EPA keeps saying it’s fine to use on your skin. But the research isn’t so cut and dried. There are indications that DEET can cause neurotoxicity and thus affect the brain. Some even go so far as to say that DEET can kill off brain cells. The effect is stronger in children and sparks worries for parents about using the product on their little ones’ skin.

To be on the safe side, many folks are turning to natural bug spray that doesn’t contain DEET. Luckily, it isn’t too difficult to make your own concoctions and there are lots of options. Let’s look at a few.

Natural Bug Spray Ideas

Each of these natural bug sprays is effective. But their effectiveness can vary depending on the type of insect you want to repel. There are over 3,000 species of mosquitos alone.

Many of these ideas work on most mosquitos and other biting insects. But you may have to experiment a bit to find the best mixture for your needs.

1. Lavender

Lavender is a lovely and versatile flower. Most people love the smell of lavender but mosquitos don’t seem to like it very much.

Plus, the oil has soothing properties for your skin. That makes it a great idea for mosquito repellent.

You can grow the flowers yourself, crush a few, and rub the oil on your skin as needed. Or you can buy lavender essential oil and add a few drops to a clean cloth to rub onto your skin.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

This apple cider vinegar concoction doesn’t smell as nice as lavender by itself, but it’s very effective. If you’re one of those people that seems to be a mosquito magnet, you might want to pull out the big guns with this repellent.

Just add 2 tablespoons each of dried lavender, sage, rosemary, mint, and thyme to 32 ounces of apple cider vinegar. Close it up and let it sit for a couple of weeks, shaking well once each day.

Once it’s ready, strain out the herbs and store it in the fridge. You can use it in a spray bottle mixed with one part of water to spritz on your body. The smell might be a bit overpowering at first, but it will dissipate a bit as it dries.

3. Herbs and Witch Hazel

For a similar natural bug spray that is more pleasing to the olfactory system, you can try this version with witch hazel instead. Simply boil a cup of water and add 3-4 tablespoons of herbs. You can get creative and use whichever ones you like!

Something from the mint family like spearmint or peppermint is good. Along with catnip, lavender, citronella, lemongrass, etc.

Cover it while it cools to keep the oils in and then strain out the herbs. Mix with a cup of witch hazel and store in the fridge.

4. Salt Spray

For a more instant recipe, you can make a salt spray. Start by adding a few drops of essential oils to 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a 4 oz spray bottle. You can use tea tree, citronella, lemongrass, myrtle or rosemary. Choose your favorite combination.

Let it sit for a few moments so the oils can permeate the salt. Then simply add water, shake and spray!

5. Vanilla

Vanilla tastes lovely in baking and most people adore the scent. Lucky for us, however, bugs don’t enjoy it nearly as much.

You can make a simple concoction of vanilla and witch hazel for a quick natural bug spray. It may not be quite as effective as some of the others we’ve mentioned, but at least you’ll smell good.

6. Citronella

Citronella is well-known as a scent that bugs tend to despise. You can use it in various forms as an insect repellent. You can add the essential oil to some of the recipes we’ve mentioned.

You can also buy store-bought citronella candles to have around your yard during an outdoor party. These tend to have a more chemical scent to them, though.

Instead, you can make your own! Simply attach a wick to the bottom of a heat-resistant container and fill with melted soy wax mixed with citronella oil. Let it sit and voila! Lovely smelling, homemade candles.

7. Cinnamon Oil

Mmm…the scent of cinnamon is such a warm reminder of the holidays. It’s also quite effective when used to combat mosquitos. The oil can actually kill mosquito eggs and adult mosquitos aren’t too keen on the scent.

You can make a solution with 1/4 teaspoon of oil in 4 ounces of water. You can spritz this around your home and on plants to drive away pesky critters. You can also use it on yourself but take care-concentrated cinnamon can irritate the skin.

8. Thyme Oil

Thyme oil is particularly effective at repelling the type of mosquitos that carry malaria. If you live in an area prone to this, thyme is a great herb to turn to.

For an easy natural bug spray, simply mix 5 drops of thyme oil with a couple of ounces of water. For a longer-lasting application, you can mix 4 drops with a teaspoon of carrier oil (like olive).

Quick tip: the next time you go camping, try tossing a few thyme leaves on the fire. You’ll enjoy a mosquito-free camping experience with little hassle.

Stay Safe the Natural Way

Whether or not DEET really poses a threat to your health, it’s nice to avoid chemicals when you can. These natural bug spray ideas are all a great way of doing that.

You also might want to check into bug zappers. These devices can effectively draw in and kill mosquitos and other biting pests. Hanging one outside on your porch is a great way to cut down on the prevalence of insects around your home.

Be sure to check out these reviews to find the best zapper for your needs!

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Peter spends most of his time outside in his large garden. He has been fighting mosquitoes for a few years trying different traps and repellents without using agressive chemicals.