DO IT YOURSELF

Homemade Insect Repellent Banish The Chemicals

Make Insect Repellent at home
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

An annoying buzzing sound attacks your ears. Your pesky little friends are here again! These tiny, blood-sucking creatures are the bane of your existence. You have your zapper, rolled up newspaper, and swatter on hand, ready to put your suffering to an end. As time progresses, you realize that you’ve wasted your energy tapping into your futile insect killing powers.

No amount of zapping, swatting, or hitting can kill all of the insects invading your space. This is especially true if you’re planning outdoors activities where swarms of insects reign supreme, but knowing how to make your own homemade insect repellent can keep you safe, happy, and healthy.

Insect repellent is generally defined as a specially made substance that can be applied to the skin, clothing, or other surfaces to deter insects from landing. Chemically manufactured insect repellent contains N-Diethyl-meta-Toluamide, otherwise known as DEET.

The Washington Post reports that some people who have used products containing at least 95% DEET, or applied DEET products for three or more days, have experienced seizures, slurred speech, and even comas. Although these cases were rare, these are serious side effects and shouldn’t be taken lightly. With so many risks involved, homemade insect repellents are a viable alternative.

Statistical reports stated that in 2013, “48.3% of American households used insect repellent.” This low percentage is testament to the fact that few Americans understand the relevance of insect repellent. The effects of insect bites are often overlooked by the average householder. Insect repellents are specially designed to ward off some of the most common insects, such as mosquitoes, flies and ticks.

Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the most common type of insect in the world, given that they’re found on almost every continent.

Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes

That’s a big problem, because they transmit a lot of diseases around the world. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Malaria: although the disease has been mostly eliminated throughout the world, there are always cases still popping up. Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, and mental confusion.
  • Yellow fever: yellow fever is a serious disease that can lead to fatal results if left untreated. Symptoms include fever, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and sensitivity to light. Left untreated, the disease can progress and lead to organ failure, seizures, kidney damage and internal bleeding.
  • Dengue: symptoms of dengue fever include severe headaches, sudden onset of a high fever, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin rash for 2-5 days after the onset of the fever, and mild bleeding/easy bruising. Left untreated, the disease could become fatal.
  • Chikungunya (Chick-V): transmitted by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, Chick-V is often associated with chronic joint pain, high fevers, joint swelling, rashes, headaches, muscle pain, nausea, and fatigue. Death from Chick-V is rare, but the virus can remain in an infected person’s body for as long as a week.
  • Zika fever (Zik-V): Zik-V became known globally as a result of a catastrophic outbreak of the disease in Brazil in 2015. One of the dangers of Zik-V is that carriers can display no symptoms. Those who have have very mild symptoms and confuse them with the symptoms of a common cold. Because of this, infected persons can have the disease and not even know it.

Diseases Caused by Flies

Flies aren’t as innocent as they seem. Researchers suspect that the common house fly is responsible for the transmission of about 65 diseases including: typhoid fever, cholera, anthrax, leprosy, and tuberculosis, just to name a few. Each of these diseases has been known to cause death if they are left untreated.

Diseases Caused by Flies

They transmit these diseases by landing on surfaces around your home. The diseases can be transmitted through their feet and saliva as they eat and crawl on the food you’ve left out.

Diseases Caused by Ticks

Ticks are eerie creatures. They can be quite deceptive, latching and embedding themselves in your skin so that they look like a small wart or blemish. The most common diseases transmitted by ticks include:

  • Lyme disease: rash in a bull’s-eye pattern develops, as well as flue-like symptoms. Joint pain and muscle weakness are also common symptoms.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever: fever, headache, muscle pains, nausea, rashes on the skin, and sensitivity to light.
  • Tularemia: there are several different strains of this disease, but the most common kind is ulceroglandular tularemia. The symptoms include an ulcer at the site of the bite, swollen lymph glands, fever, fatigue, chills, and headaches.

The potentially harmful effects that these tiny creatures have on our bodies make the need for homemade insect repellents extremely important.

Diseases Caused by Ticks

If applied correctly, they can provide you with 99% protection from these pesky creatures. This guide will help you make homemade insect repellent and is divided into four sections:

  • Types of Homemade Insect repellents
  • How to Make Each Type of repellent
  • How to Store Home Made repellents
  • Applying the Repellent

Types of Homemade Insect repellents

We can’t guide you through the steps for making your own insect repellent without explaining the possible types. An understanding of each type will help you determine the one that’s right for you.

Pay close attention to ingredients that you or your family may be allergic to. Also, consider the repellents that are the most affordable and have easily accessible ingredients.

Lemon Eucalyptus

Insects are pesky creatures that are generally attracted to scent, light, heat and humidity. The key to creating an effective insect repellent is to find a natural oil or dried herb that discourages the insect from landing on your skin. Some of the most common oils used in DIY insect repellents are:

  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Catnip
  • Citronella
  • Cinnamon
  • Neem
  • Soybean
  • Coconut
  • Castor Seed
  • Cedar Leaf
  • Clove Flower
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric
  • Tea tree

Some of the most common herbs used in DIY insect repellents are:

  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Citronella
  • Lemongrass
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaf

Not only will you be able to create a repellent that keeps insects a bay, but you’ll smell good too! You can choose a combination of either natural oils or herbs that appeal to your senses. Eliminating the harsh chemicals found in most store bought repellents also does wonders for your skin.

Many of these herbs and oils have skin soothing properties and provide skin nourishment, leaving your skin soft and moisturized.

Natural Insect repellent

The following herbs and oils work best for warding off mosquitoes:

  • Citronella
  • Lemon eucalyptus
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint

The following herbs and oils work best for warding off flies:

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaf
  • Lavender
  • Mint

These oils and herbs are best used for eliminating ticks:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon

A strong DIY insect repellent, therefore, has a combination of lavender and lemon eucalyptus since these oils can ward off a greater variety of insects. However, if you are creating a repellent for a specific insect, consider the oils or herbs that are most suitable.

Making The Insect Repellents

How to Make Insect Repellent from Essential Oils

The procedure is the same for making DIY insect repellent from essential oils, regardless of the oil used.

Make Insect Repellent from Essential Oils

You will need:

  • Boiled water
  • The essential oil(s) of your choice
  • Witch hazel or sunflower oil
  • A spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Pour the boiled water into the spray bottle until it is half filled.
  2. Fill the remaining space ¾ of the way with the witch hazel or sunflower oil.
  3. Add between 30 to 50 drops of the essential oil. It is recommended that you use a mixture of the oils. The mixture depends on the oils you prefer. Most of these oils, however, shouldn’t be used on children who are less than three years old.

Studies have shown that a high concentration of lemon eucalyptus oil provides at least 95% protection from mosquitoes for about three hours. Lavender, catnip, and peppermint have soothing properties. So, not only will they protect you from insects, but they will also soothe your skin. Don’t use too much cinnamon oil when making your repellent, as it can cause skin irritation.

How to Make Insect repellent that’s Safe for Babies

Parents have to be very careful about the types of products they use on their baby’s skin, as it can be quite sensitive. Creating an insect repellent from essential oils that is safe for babies requires the use of oils that aren’t harsh for a baby’s soft skin.

Make Insect repellent that’s Safe for Babies

Harsh oils can cause rashes and other allergic reactions that could be a detriment to your baby’s health. The procedure is, therefore, the same. The only difference is that baby-friendly oil should replace the more traditional oils.

You will need:

  • Boiled water
  • Citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lemon or cedar essential oil (these are safe for use on a baby’s skin)
  • Witch hazel or sunflower oil
  • A spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Pour the boiled water into the spray bottle until it is half filled.
  2. Fill the remaining space ¾ of the way with the witch hazel or sunflower oil.
  3. Add between 30 to 50 drops of the essential oil. It is recommended that you use a mixture of the oils. The mixture depends on the oils you prefer.

How to Make Insect Repellent from Herbs

The ingredients are essentially the same as those used in the oil process.

Make Insect Repellent from Herbs

The only exception is that the oil is replaced with dried or fresh herbs.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • Your choice of dried herbs
  • A strainer
  • Spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Boil the water and add a total of 3-4 tablespoons of dried herbs. For instance, if you want to use a mixture of lavender, peppermint and citronella, you can only use one tablespoon of each.
  2. Mix well, cover, and boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the spray bottle so that the remains of the herbs are removed.
  4. Mix the resulting solution with the witch hazel or rubbing alcohol.

How to Make Out-of-the-Box Insect Repellent

There are some other DIY insect repellent recipes that carry a greater level of potency.

Make Out of the Box Insect Repellent

We will discuss two here.

Option One: Smooth as a Baby’s Skin

You will need:

  • 16 oz. of rubbing alcohol
  • 5 oz. of whole cloves
  • 5 oz. of baby oil
  • Strainer
  • Spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Soak the cloves in the alcohol for 4 days. Ensure that you stir the mixture each morning and evening.
  2. Pour the mixture through the strainer and into the spray bottle.
  3. Add the oil and shake the new solution.

Option Two: The Stinky, But Good, Spray

You will need:

  • 32 oz. of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. of sage
  • 2 tbsp. of rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. of lavender
  • 2 tbsp. of thyme
  • 2 tbsp. of mint
  • A quart sized glass jar with airtight lid
  • A strainer
  • A spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Place the vinegar and herbs into the jar.
  2. Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 weeks. Ensure that you shake the mixture each day.
  3. Fill the spray bottle half-way with water.
  4. Use the strainer to strain the mixture into the remaining space in the spray bottle.
  5. Shake well.

Storing The Repellent

It is pointless to make an insect repellent only to render it useless due to incorrect storage. The out-of-the box insect repellents should be stored in the fridge.

It is safe to store the other repellents at room temperature in a cool, dry place. Remember to keep your repellent out of the reach of children!

Applying The Repellent

Applying insect repellent is easy! All I have to do is slather on my skin, right?

Applying the Repellent

The method for applying insect repellent isn’t as simple as slathering it on your skin. Utilize these tips and you will be able to effectively keep those annoying insects at bay.

  • If you’re using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen before you apply the bug spray.
  • Apply the bug spray all over exposed areas of your body, especially the back of her your neck. Don’t miss a spot!
  • Don’t overuse it, but apply it generously enough so that you’re adequately protected.
  • Repellent should be applied whenever there is a high occurrence of mosquitos or you are likely to be in areas with tall grass or leaf litter. It’s also a definite must if you’re going into the forest or are going to be near large bodies of standing water.

Wrapping It All Up

Insects aren’t man’s best friend. Apart from being annoying, they carry a wide range of life-threatening diseases. Protecting yourself from them is an absolute must. Store bought insect spray does the trick, but do contain high levels of DEET, which is what you want to stay away from. DIY insect repellent provides a viable alternative to the chemical-laden repellent.

Different combinations of dried herbs or natural oils can be used in combination with witch hazel to create these safe all-natural bug sprays. Other variations that incorporate apple cider vinegar, cloves, or baby oil also exist. Utilize one of the recipes presented in this guide. You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Jake Bryan

    I tend to use a mixture of tea tree oil, water and vinegar. It is very much akin to Citronella and works great not only on myself and my family but our dogs too. Keeps everybody happy in the summer as it is toxic to insects. I’ve heard vanilla works against a lot of insects too but I see you haven’t mentioned it. Have you any experience with using vanilla?

  • Mark Foster

    I have. Combine it with Lavender and tea tree oil for a delightful scent – yet, it works great on insects, especially mosquitoes. These essential oils are natural and does the job well. They are also inexpensive. Just put some drops on a bit batch and you’re done. Great for sensitive skins, too and gentler on our bodies.

  • Julie Stuart

    Have you ever heard of Picardin? I don’t know if it’s absolutely natural as it’s imitation but there are no chemicals. Wondering if you had any experience using that or know if it works well?

  • Mark Foster

    Are you referring to Picaridin? I know that it’s an alternative for DEET but haven’t really tried it. What I’ve tried and worked are these homemade insect repellents. The essential oils work really well and they are safe. What more, these are so affordable and smells so good.

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