Homemade Bug Repellent - Quicken Loans Zing BlogOne of my least favorite things about summer is the swarms of mosquitoes that attack like a mob of hungry zombies. It seems like the only thing you can do to protect yourself is use chemical-based DEET sprays.

The CDC says, “Using insect repellents containing DEET should not be harmful if label directions are followed and the product is used safely.” Despite this, DEET exposure over time could cause problems like skin or respiratory irritation. Plus, it’s still classified as a pesticide. The thought of putting a pesticide directly on my skin just doesn’t sit well with me.

Natural homemade insect repellents are a great alternative to chemical-based ones. Store bought natural repellents cost a pretty penny, but not to worry. You can easily and inexpensively make your own, and most of the ingredients might already be around your home. Let’s get started!

Grab Some Essential Oils

A few drops of essential oils are the foundation for most homemade insect repellents. Any of these will work well:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Citronella
  • Rose geranium
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Peppermint
  • Basil
  • Clove
  • Thyme

Find a Carrier Liquid

While you can apply a few drops of essential oils directly to your skin, adding it to some kind of liquid carrier helps the solution last longer. Plus, most of the carriers below also boost the bug-repelling power:

  • Witch hazel
  • Sunflower oil
  • Apple cider
  • Liquid soap
  • Vegetable oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Tea tree oil
  • Vodka
  • Rubbing alcohol

Pick Some Herbs

To get the most out of your natural insect repellent, you can steep your mixture with some fresh herbs. You can also substitute them for many of the essential oils listed above. Here are a few herbs to add to your homemade insect repellent:

  • Catnip
  • Any variety of mint
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Lemon grass

Mix Everything Together

Once you pick a carrier liquid, a few essential oils and an herb or two, you’re ready to create your concoction. There are a ton of different recipes, but the one below is the easiest to make and remember:

  • Mix one-part essential oils with about 15-parts carrier liquid.
  • Pour solution into a saucepan and heat it up on the stove pot.
  • Chop up select herbs and steep them in the warm solution for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight ­– the longer the better.
  • Lastly, strain the mixture and put it into a spray bottle.

Don’t forget to also check out some of these mosquito-repellent plants that you can grow around your home. They’ll add an extra bug-repellent barrier.

There you have it – a totally DEET-free, natural insect repellent you can make at home. It’s simple and inexpensive, so why not give it a try this summer?

What do you think about homemade insect repellents? Share your thoughts with other Zing readers on the comments below!


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I would like to have heard from someone that has used essential oils and herbs for insect repellent as to which ones work on which bugs.

    1. Hi Madonna:

      This is a good suggestion that we’ll take into account next time this topic comes up. I think it’s a little bit difficult because bugs are relentlessly adaptable and have short life cycles that enable them to evolve defenses for some of this. However, it’s definitely something we can look into.


  2. I have a couple Lemon Balm plants in my yard. The mosquitoes are horrendous this year so I’m thinking of pulverizing the Lemon Balm then in my slow cooker, Put the lemon balm in fractionated coconut oil on low heat and then straining in after a few hours. What do you think?

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