Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY Bug Spray

I hate bug spray.  All kinds.  To be honest, we do have some here.  I keep wasp spray for the occasional hornet or wasp nest and and spray for the patio perimeter when the fire ants take over the dog's food.  But given the choice I'd rather not use anything at all, and I try to limit their use to just those.  But I live in the South.  The Deep South.  Near the edge of a bayou.  We have bugs.  LOTS of bugs.  Bugs that I would rather not share my home with.  So I needed an alternative to the nasty chemical stuff that I would rather my babies not inhale.  I came up with two solutions that have so far worked pretty well.

Personal Insect Repellant
  • In a travel size fine mist spray bottle, fill halfway with a carrier oil.  I use canola, because it is light, cheap, and doesn't have much of a scent, but you can use olive, almond, calendula, or whatever you like.
  • Put 10-20 drops of essential oils (depending on the size of your spray bottle and how many different oils you use) in the bottle.  I use lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass, because I like those, I already have them in the house, and they don't make me gag like some of the other ones, but you may like something different.  (List of Essential Oils for Repelling Insects)
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with water and shake well.
  • Do a skin test to make sure no one has a reaction to any of the oils.  Diluting in a carrier oil usually helps prevent this, but better to be safe than itching or burning.  Especially if you're using on kids.
  • Spray on exposed skin and rub in.  I have no idea if this actually helps, but I like to pay special attention to pulse points.  Plus, I like to smell like air freshener for hours.
We went hiking at some nature trails last Friday, and even though the mosquitoes were out in full force I wasn't bitten even once.  And I'm usually the first one to find bites on myself.  Harper was also bite-free after the hike.  I will warn you, however, that I did have a couple of bees buzzing around me.  Coincidence? Maybe.  Or maybe they thought I was a lavender bush in need of pollination.  I have no idea.  Still, no stings or bites, so I count that as a success!

Home Bug Spray

(Very similar to my fabric spray, but I use a smaller spray bottle and more drops of oils specifically to repel insects, not just the ones I like)
  • In a small trigger bottle (one that can adjust from spray to stream), put 10-20 drops of each essential oil.  I use my trusty combination of lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass.   (List of Essential Oils for Repelling Insects)  Fill the bottle with water and shake.
  • Adjust the bottle to a stream setting, and spray the bottom edge of baseboards, windows, and doors, or anywhere you know bugs like to hide.  I do our trouble spots regularly, then every so often I'll spray closets, under/behind dressers, behind the bookcase, etc.
  • Don't spray directly on pet bedding.
  • Doubles as a house freshener.  :)
  • The only downside is that it doesn't last, especially in the spring during peak bug season, so I have to spray it weekly (sometimes twice a week) to be effective.  


  1. Thanks for the recipe. Does the oil get too, well, oily on the skin? I've been sending my boys to school with a few drops of tea tree oil rubbed on their heads since before Christmas. Supposedly it's a lice repellent, and I figure supposedly is better than nothing.

    (Really, I'm so not committed to this school thing.)

  2. It depends on how thick you put it on, I suppose. I put a light coating on myself and within a couple of minutes I didn't feel greasy at all. Much less oily and stucky than the commercial stuff.

    Now, I know you guys have ticks. I don't know what works against ticks, neem oil maybe?

  3. We have lots of mosquitos, and I make a repellent spray w/ peppermint oil and water in a small spray bottle. We keep it by the back door and spray it on whenever we head outside late in the day when the skeeters come out. It works really well, and it makes us all smell good!

  4. Oh good! I've heard people say they just tie a piece of fabric sprayed with lavender or peppermint to their belt loop and that works too. I don't know if that would be enough here, but sounds like another good fix if you don't want to coat yourself in the stuff.


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