Monday, June 18, 2012

DIY Chemical-Free Homemade Bug Spray

Contributed by Anna of Not Knowing Where

Our garden has been growing at an incredible rate, thanks to the attentions of my husband, and his right-hand toddler man. Here in North Carolina, the mosquitoes are terrible, especially in the garden in the afternoon/evening. I wanted to make some bug spray for my men to use to rescue them from biting insects, and spiders.

I discovered that making your own bug spray is literally as easy as making a cup of tea. The ingredients are incredibly affordable and have a long shelf life before being mixed together.

I went to my favorite natural health store in town to get the essential oils that are most effective. I've found my local natural health store to be an incredible resource - both for ingredients and for advice. These people really love what they sell, and have much more experience than me. The chain stores (of which we have two) will try to point you to the $20 bottle of all natural, herbal, yada, yada, that they have pre-mixed on their shelf. But this little unimposing store was immediately on board with my DIY desire, and helped me pick out the most effective essential oils.

I decided on citronella ($3.50) and lemongrass ($6.00) for the essential oils. Growing in my garden, I have spearmint and lavender. However if I didn't have these plants I could have puchased them dried at a very low cost.

Here is list of ingredients I used:
  • Water
  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Dried spearmint leaves
  • Citronella essential oil
  • Lemongrass essential oil
  • Rubbing alcohol or Witchhazel
At home, I boiled 8 oz (1 cup) of water. I poured the boiling water over 2 tablespoons each of dried spearmint and lavender. I used a mug just like I was making a cup of tea, and covered the mixture to steep. After it cooled to room temperature, I strained out the herbs. To my herbal "tea", I added 14 drops of citronella and 7 drops of lemongrass.

Finally, I poured the whole thing into a spray bottle. For ease of evaporation, I decided to add some rubbing alcohol. Witchhazel is another (but more expensive) option if you want the spray to more quickly evaporate on the skin. I added enough rubbing alcohol to produce 10 oz total of bug spray. This is a minimal amount. Some people double the amount of liquid by adding much more alcohol or witchhazel.

It cost me less than $10, and will make enough bug spray to last many, many, months of summers. No harsh chemicals, inexpensive, and effective!


  1. I REALLY need to try this. Bugs love me for some reason. Hubs hardly ever gets a bite, but 5 minutes in the garden and I'm eaten up. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. This is cooler than cool. Desperately needed to as our neighborhood is a mosquito farm because of standing water in neighbors yard...and I can't stand to put the chemical stuff on the babes!

  3. So the real question is.... does it work?

  4. Wow - this is so funny because two days ago I ordered things to make this :) Thanks for posting this so others can see how easy it is and be aware of the options they have! My daughter is allergic to mosquito bites so I had to research this. Can't wait to get my things in the mail and make it!

  5. We really do not like the smell of lavender here at our that a necessary ingredient? I'd love to try this!

  6. @AutumnSpirit It does work for us. What I'm not sure about is how it compares to a brand like OFF as far as re-application. The beauty of making your own stuff is that you can play with the ingredients to find your own perfect blend for your combination of people and place.

    @Brandi Elam I believe that the lavender is the least important ingredient. You could either leave it out, or substitute clove oil. Clove is also supposed to be very good.

    @Christy B Yay! I have a friend with that problem, but haven't recommended this because I would feel soooo guilty if it even let one mosquito through! However I can imagine that you would feel better spraying her liberally with an herbal blend than with something stronger from the store. I hope it's 100% effective for you guys.


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