Homemade Insect Repellent Recipe for Full Protection

Being bitten by insects is definitely not fun, especially if you are like me: allergic to their bites. In this case especially, you need to be extra careful and protect your skin from insect bites. And fortunately, I’m here to teach you how to make your own high quality insect repellent at home from simple ingredients.

This way, you will skip on some of the stronger chemicals that many store-brought insect repellent sprays contain and also keep the budget in check. The best part? These homemade insect repellents work really well and smell really good too.

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.

Check out our review of the top insect repellent that you can use if you’re not a fan of DIY methods.

Types of Homemade Insect repellents

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

Also read: Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Mosquito Hammock: Relax and Enjoy without the Bugs

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.

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 and general well being.

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.

How to make your own Insect Repellent

The easiest way to do this is to make a mixture using essential oils. These are readily available in a multitude of stores (including on Amazon (affiliate link) – make sure to check them out for easy ordering).

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.

You will need:

  • Boiled or purified water (500 ml / 19 oz)
  • The essential oil(s) of your choice (Recommended mix: lemon eucalyptus, Citronella, Lavender and Lemongrass)
  • Witch hazel or sunflower oil
  • A spray bottle


  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 oils that you are planning to use. 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. Mix it with other oils to increase the range of insects and also the efficinecy.

We’re going to talk about this more in depth below, but I have to warn you now also: try not to apply the insect repellent directly on your skin. Apply it on clothes instead in order to reduce the risk of it causing 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 and for most essential oils, it’s not recommended to apply them directly on the skin.

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.

Also, you should spray them with extreme caution away from their face and in such a way that the baby won’t be able to breathe in the spray itself as it can cause health problems.

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 or distilled water (600 ml / 20 oz)
  • Citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lemon or cedar essential oil
  • Witch hazel or sunflower oil
  • A spray bottle


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

You will need:

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


  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 store your homemade insect repellent

It is pointless to make an insect repellent only to render it useless due to incorrect storage. Fortunately, these don’t require extreme measures in order to last you through a full season (at least).

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

I personally have repellent that I have used even 2 years after making them (this is what happens when you make too many and forget where you place them) and the smell was still strong and it worked.

So these homemade insect repellents definitely last a long time, which is a good thing.

How to apply the homemade insect repellent

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

The method for applying insect repellent isn’t as simple as slathering it on your skin. On the contrary! You should make sure to keep it away from your skin as most essential oils can cause skin rashes or other problems.

Ideally, you should apply it on your clothes only. But in reality, this is impossible as we usually need it when the weather is hot and we wear t-shirts and shorts or other similar clothing pieces.

As a result, test to see if you can apply your homemade spray directly on the skin. My family and I never had problems applying it directly on the skin, but do test it before by applying a small quantity on the wrist of your hand. Wait 10-15 minutes to see if any rashes appear (or other reactions).

Even if all things are good, you should still try to apply as little as possible directly on your skin. Also, keep the quantities under control and use as little as it is required to be efficient against the bugs.

Why should you use a homemade insect repellent?

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 and greatly protect your health as a result.

Wrapping It Up

Insects aren’t man’s best friend, generally. 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 might 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.

For more camping safety tips that you can use on your next adventure, read our article on this topic.


6 thoughts on “Homemade Insect Repellent Recipe for Full Protection”

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

    • Thanks for pointing this out! I have edited the article to include the quantity, but you need to add your drops to 500ml (19 oz) water for adults and 600ml (20oz) for the baby solution.


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