Homemade Bug Spray (that really works!)

This post may contain affiliate links - Full Disclosure

Find out how I make a safe and natural bug spray for my family to use during the buggy days of summer. You'll never guess what the secret ingredient is!

OG and I have had a great summer exploring outside, swimming and feeding our chickens but with all of that time outside (and her apparently irresistible flesh!) I’ve had to cover her in bug spray every second that she is outside.

I usually use this natural homemade bug spray which works great but is sort of expensive and hard to find in stores around here. So I decided to try to make my own natural insect repellent.

Essential oils vary in price and some can be quite expensive so I tried to come up with a blend that would be less expensive to buy but still effective.
The recipe I came up with is excellent for keeping ticks away and works great for mosquitoes and flies too. It also smells nice!

Homemade Bug Spray

(Great for ticks and DEET-free!)

What you need:

  • 24 drops of each essential oil (I buy high quality oils at Mountain Rose Herbs)
    • Peppermint or Citronella
    • Pennyroyal
    • Geranium
    • Lemongrass
    • Lavender
    • 1oz (raw) apple cider vinegar
    • Distilled water (or water that is boiled and cooled)
    • 4 oz opaque spray bottle

What you do:

Mix all ingredients in the spray bottle. Apply liberally to exposed skin and clothing before going outside.


-other possible essential oils to repel insects: Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint, Sassafras and Thyme.

-This recipe uses essential oils at a dilution of 5% because I use it on my toddler. If you are making this for adults you can double the essential oils to make a dilution of 10%. Some sources I’ve found have cautioned against using peppermint essential oils on children.  Always check with your doctor if this is safe for you and your family.


What natural bug repellent do you use?


This post is shared at More The Merrier Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Natural Living Monday, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Wildcrafting Wednesdays

Sign up for my newsletter
and receive weekly tips on simple living

plus instant access to my FREE Guide on DIY natural household cleaners!


  1. Susan says

    Question- Do you think this would be as effective if only witch hazel were used in place of the vinegar and water? I wasn’t sure if the vinegar was just to help the oil go into a water solution or if it also plays a part in the role of repellant. I know the alcohol in witch hazel will help the oils go into solution.
    Thanks, Susan

    • Mindy says

      Great question! The vinegar is both an emollient and a tick repellent (maybe other bugs too). So you could definitely use witch hazel instead but it just might not have the same kick to it :)

Leave a Reply

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