Homemade Mosquito Repellent – How to Make Your Own Bug Spray

Make your own homemade mosquito repellent with some of our suggested recipes

In the 21st century, ecologists and biologists will tell you it’s all about the insects but don’t you just feel sometimes that all the wrong insects seem to be increasing.  The demise of the honey bee is a worldwide crisis but why is it never the demise of the mosquito?

Mosquitoes have always been a problem throughout the centuries, biting and causing, nasty hot lumps that are insanely itchy and can become infected.  The World Health Organisation lists them as one of the deadliest species of animal and insects on the planet.  They are responsible for millions of deaths every year due to their ability to both carry and spread disease.  On a more superficial level, they are irritating and an unpleasant intrusion into daily living.  The requirement to repel them is therefore as vital as ever but no-one really wants to use chemical-based sprays particularly if they contain Deet.

Deet impacts the central nervous system and has had some alarming results in animal studies.  Mosquito sprays containing Deet or other pesticides might work but can be really harmful to your health and are a no-no for children and some people with pre-existing health conditions including, pregnant women.  Happily, there’s always a natural solution. Nature knows a thing or two because people have always needed to repel these pesky insects well before modern chemicals came along.

How to make a natural mosquito repellent

We take a look at some of the best home remedies that you can cook up in your own kitchen and which should keep you mosquito-free without containing anything harmful to human health or the environment.  These are all super quick and easy to make and best of all, you know exactly what’s in them.

Mosquitoes do not like: Citronella, Peppermint, Patchouli, Lemon, Lemon Eucalyptus, Basil, Thyme, Lemongrass, Tea Tree or Lavender – so, you can experiment with your own combinations to find whatever works.

Try some of the ingredients from our own formula

Our own preferred formula contains Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, Pure Essential Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, Cedarwood Atlas and Soy Bean oil blended in Distilled water.

If you want to try making your own, here’s an approximate recipe:

  • Geranium: 12 drops
  • Lavender: 10 drops
  • Lemon Eucalyptus: 10 drops
  • Cedarwood Atlas: 10 drops
  • Soybean oil: (optional) – 4 drops

Method: Mixed these oils with 1.69 ounces (50 milliliters) of distilled water in a spray bottle.

It smells lovely, but not to bugs!

Alternatively, you could try mixing:

  • Oil of Soybean (10 drops)
  • Oil of Citronella (10 drops)
  • Oil of Peppermint (2 drops)
  • Oil of Cedar (2 drops)
  • Oil of Lemongrass (1 drop)
  • Oil of Geranium (1 drop)

Again, with 1.69 ounces (50 milliliters) of distilled water. For a very similar repellent to this DIY recipe, you could try “All Terrain Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent” (view here) if you wanted to cut a few corners!

great mosquito repellent recipe

Herbal Armor contains Soybean oil,  Citronella, Peppermint, Cedarwood, Lemongrass oil, and Geranium oil.

Tea Tree and Coconut Oil

Take around 10 drops of tea tree oil and 30ml of coconut oil and blend them together.  Apply to exposed skin areas with either a sponge or mist from a plant spray.

the tea tree plant

This blend has a pleasant tangy fragrance from the tea tree oil which insects dislike.  The anti-inflammatory benefits of tea tree oil on the skin which is already sore and inflamed are well documented so it is safe to use over sunburn for instance.  Tea tree oil contains healing and antiseptic properties and will be kind to existing insect bites and abrasions.  The coconut oil will leave your skin feeling super soft. Don’t be tempted to use tea tree oil on its own as it is quite strong and astringent; it works best when used in a base or carrier oil such as coconut.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Take 10 ml of lemon eucalyptus oil and mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.  Olive oil will do if that is all you have to hand.  Blend well and then apply to exposed areas of the skin.

Lemon eucalyptus oil contains citronella which is found in many commercial insect repellents and PMD which stands for p-methane 3,8-diol and it is this chemical that insects dislike.  PMD is present in tiny quantities in lemon eucalyptus oil and needs to undergo a process of purification in order to convert the citronella into usable PMD.  The mixture has a very pleasant lemony fragrance and is highly effective at repelling insects.


1oz Citronella oil on Amazon.com or try pure Citronella essential oil

Peppermint and Coconut Oil

Take 12 drops of peppermint oil and around 30ml of coconut oil and mix them together.  Peppermint oil can sting if it comes into contact with the eyes so only apply this compound to your arms and legs.


Peppermint contains elements such as limonene which is also found in the peel of citrus fruits amongst other places.  Limonene is commonly used as a food flavoring and it is this the mosquitoes dislike.  Combined with coconut oil, this blend can prove very effective.  Coconut oil contains fatty acids and these slow down the evaporation of the peppermint oil meaning it will stay effective for longer.

Apple Cider Vinegar with essential oils

Apple Cider Vinegar has long been a staple of the store cupboard amongst those in the know for decades.  Take 50ml of apple cider vinegar and match it with 50ml of water and then add 10-12 drops of essential oil – choose citronella or lemon eucalyptus.  It’s important to make sure the vinegar and water are blended in equal proportions.  Mix the contents together well and dispense them from a pump-action bottle.

apple cider vinegar

This fusion is perfect for people who dislike the oily feeling and texture of repellents that work with a base oil like coconut oil.  This has a sharper and more cleansing effect on the skin and some people prefer it.  The essential oils deter insects but mosquitoes also dislike the acidic pH effect on human skin created by apple cider vinegar.

Lavender Oil, Vanilla and Lemon Juice Spray

Mix 10-12 drops of lavender oil with 3-4 tablespoons of vanilla extract and the same amount again of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Add this fusion to two cups of water and shake well to really combine the ingredients together.

Dispense from a simple plant spray and apply it several times a day.

english lavender

The lavender fragrance you will really appreciate but happily, for us, mosquitoes hugely dislike it. 

They are repelled by limonene, eucalyptol and camphor which keeps more than just mosquitoes at bay.  Vanilla also shares insect-repelling properties and lemon juice keeps an acidic level on the skin which will deter mosquitoes.

It’s easy to see that there are some proprietary essential oils that when combined with a base oil will make a quick and effective insect repellent – they smell nice as well, an added bonus.  Of course, if this is just all too much trouble, then there are natural pre-prepared alternatives that will keep you bug-free and are not harmful to either you or the environment.

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