How to Make Homemade Bug Repellent

During the warm months, my mission is simple: avoid bug bites whenever possible. And living in the humid south makes this a challenge. When I was a kid, it meant spraying liberal quantities of OFF bug repellent all over myself. It was greasy and smelled gross, but it was the only way I knew to combat the plague of mosquitoes that seemed view my legs as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Of course, as I got older it began to dawn on me that drenching myself in chemicals may not be the wisest choice. And when I had my own kids who loved to play outside during the summer evenings, finding a natural way to repel bugs became a top priority.

I was delighted when I realized I could make my own homemade insect repellent. I made some right away, and the whole family noticed a remarkable decrease in mosquito bites when we started using it. My kids always remind me to spray them before they go outside!

How to Make Homemade Bug Repellent

Natural insect repellent is incredibly easy to make at home. It requires just two simple steps:

Step 1: Choose Your Essential Oils

Essential oils are the active ingredients in homemade bug repellent. The right essential oils will have bugs running (or flying) in the opposite direction. You'll need a total of about 40-50 drops of essential oils per 8 ounces of bug repellent. You can use one kind of essential oil, or mix and match. The oils you want to use in homemade bug repellent are any of the following:
  • Rosemary
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedar
  • Mint
  • Lemongrass
  • Basil
  • Thyme

Step 2: Choose Your Base

You can choose to make your homemade insect repellent water or oil-based.

For oil-based bug repellent: Simply mix 40-50 drops of essential oils into 8 oz. of your favorite carrier oil (mine is obviously coconut oil!). Store in a small glass jar or tub. This mixture is quite effective  and can be dabbed lightly on wrists, inside the arm, behind the knees and around the ankles to keep those bugs at a distance.

For water-based bug repellent spray: Essential oils don't mix well with water, so you'll need to use witch hazel or rubbing alcohol (vodka can be used as a natural alternative) as an emulsifier. Use about 2-4 ounces of witch hazel or alcohol in an 8-oz. spray bottle, then fill the rest with pure water and 40-50 drops of essential oils.

Have you given up commercial chemical bug sprays? What kind of natural solutions have you tried for bugs and insects? Have you had any success keeping the bugs away? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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