5 DIY Bug Sprays That'll Keep the Insects Away Naturally

Four Thieves Vinegar works miracles at campsites.

Nothing says outdoor living quite like a bonfire or a day at the lake. And somehow, mosquitos always seem to find that same bonfire crowd, too. Instead of spending money on generic store brand bug sprays and bug repellent that sometimes works, you can feel confident knowing these DIY bug sprays are foolproof and won't cause undue harm to the insects you're trying to avoid.

Like pesticides, many commercial bug repellents contain nasty chemicals that are unnecessarily harmful both to the environment and your body. By making your own insect repellent, you will know exactly what's inside. These DIY bug sprays work to keep the insects away and make every outdoor dinner a time to remember, not to swat away.

1. Essential Oils

When it comes to repelling mosquitoes and gnats, essential oils are ... well, essential. Citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, spearmint, peppermint, cajeput, and cinnamon are all valued for their repellent properties - not to mention their aromas and myriad medicinal uses. Bug bites stay away!

This bug spray recipe for a bug-repelling essential oil blend calls for lemon eucalyptus oil, cedarwood, lavender and rosemary oils, along with grapeseed, jojoba, almond, olive or neem oils, each valued for their insecticidal properties. Simply mix a few drops of essential oils and place into a glass spray bottle for best keeping.

That said, don't be afraid to experiment for yourself, adding and subtracting oils for aroma and efficacy. Make it your own DIY bug spray with a personal blend of essential oil recipes!

2. Lavender Vanilla Mosquito Repellent

This natural, homemade repellent smells great and works even better.

  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3-4 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Distilled water

For this aromatic repellant, combine lavender, vanilla and lemon juice in a spray bottle. Top off the bottle with distilled water. Shake before application, spray on skin and clothes, and enjoy the great outdoors without dealing with mosquito bites!

This natural insect repellent is a fantastic natural alternative to DEET, and the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store (check the body lotion and wellness section for the lavender essential oil).

3. Mosquito and Tick Repellent

Those venturing out into the woods may want something stronger for DIY mosquito repellent. This homemade insect repellent recipe uses witch hazel and castor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and citronella oils, and should work to keep even ticks and chiggers away.

  • 6 oz. witch hazel
  • 2 oz. castor oil
  • 5 drops cinnamon oil
  • 15 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 15 drops citronella oil

Combine all ingredients and divvy between mini plastic bottles to spread the wealth. Additionally, you can use one large spray bottle. Shake well before each application of your homemade bug spray.

Castor oil is known to repel mosquitoes and is a key ingredient in all-natural bug spray and one that is often chemically altered in commercial bug sprays. A dash of peppermint oil in this recipe would pair beautifully, about five drops.

4. Four Thieves Vinegar


According to legend, this concoction was created by a quartet of Medieval thieves, who used the formula to keep from contracting plague as they robbed the dead and dying. That may all be a myth, but similar types of herbal vinegar have been used since before the time of Hippocrates, around 400 BC (way before the Environmental Protection Agency existed).

This concoction calls for a combination of vinegar infused with herbs and spices thought to ward off illness. This modern recipe uses lavender, rosemary, mint, sage, marjoram, anise hyssop and garlic in an apple cider or white wine vinegar base.

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh lavender flowers
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh anise hyssop
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1-quart white wine or apple cider vinegar, preferably raw

For this DIY bug spray, combine herbs and garlic in a 1-quart mason jar, cover with vinegar and steep for seven to 10 days. After steeping, strain the vinegar through a mesh sieve to a clean 1-quart jar or spray bottle.

As far as homemade bug repellents go, this one smells wonderful in addition to warding away different bugs, from mosquitoes to black flies.

5. Bugs-Be-Gone Balm

This smooth-on insect-repelling balm is great for skin, too, rich with beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil.

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. beeswax pastilles
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. castor oil
  • 15 drops each citronella, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops each peppermint and geranium essential oil

Place beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil and castor oil in a saucepan. Melt over low heat while stirring. When melted completely, remove from heat and allow to cool before adding essential oils. After mixing in oils, transfer liquid to containers. Once it cools, the balm will solidify.

Try these out and let us know what works for you! Do you have a specific DIY recipe for a natural bug spray? Let us know on our social channels!

READ MORE: Ozark Trail Coolers: 8 Models That Suit Every Outdoor Need

This post was originally published on February 23, 2021.