When you’re pondering homemade bug spray, you’re actually trying to decide which is worse – bugs or the chemicals you can typically find in commercial bug spray. If your answer to this little conundrum is both, then you might be interested in starting to make your personal homemade bug spray. If you do an online search on this matter, you’ll find a thousand and one ideas. Luckily for you, though, we’ve selected the best ones, coming straight out of your cupboard.
Why Homemade Bug Spray?
Maybe in your list of DIYs or homemade things, bug spray was somewhere at the bottom of the list. Or, perhaps, you didn’t think it was possible to ward off or even exterminate bugs using all natural ingredients. After all, they do say that the only things which can resist an atomic blast are cockroaches. As it turns out, you don’t need a can of toxic fumes to get that result, especially when you find out what’s inside them.
The main ingredient in commercial bug repellents is DEET. Even though it is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and one-third of America’s population uses it every year, DEET can cause rashes, soreness, redness, irritations, and even blistering when it comes in contact with the skin. Apart from that, some alarming studies show that DEET is, in a way, linked to neurological diseases. The EPA reports 18 cases where children developed illnesses after they were exposed to DEET and two adults died.
Another aspect which, in this day and age, we cannot possibly ignore, is the fact that this chemical compound affects not only humans but animals and the environment as well. Unfortunately, it has an adverse impact on water sources, as well as on wildlife, especially to birds and aquatic organisms. A staggering study shows that DEET has been found in 75 percent of all the water sources in the United States, including in the Mississippi.
Taking all this into consideration, our leading question, why homemade bug spray, practically answer itself. The first reason is the existence of DEET. Secondly, you might want to try it because you can make it yourself at home, in any way you like, and thirdly, because it’s a lot cheaper than the store-bought ones.
All that being said, let’s take a look at some excellent homemade bug spray recipes.
Natural Recipes for Homemade Bug Spray
#1. The Marigold Homemade Bug Spray Recipe
It doesn’t really get more natural than marigold. This beautiful flower is a known natural repellent against all kinds of flies, including horseflies, leaf-cutting insects, asparagus beetles, and tomato hornworms.
The recipe asks for a tightly-packed cup of fresh marigold flowers, leaves, and stems. Put them all in a blender and add two cups of water. Be careful not to use too many flowers, though, because the stems are better for insect repelling. Blend everything at high speed and let it macerate at least one full day.
You can use a glass jar, but you have to make sure you close the lid tightly. During the maceration process, give it a shake a few times a day. Strain everything and keep only the resulting liquid. Mix it with 6 cups of water and a quarter teaspoon of liquid soap, preferably a natural one as well. The soap will make it stick to the leaves of the plants you need to use it on.
One tip here – you can also use the marigold homemade bug spray on dogs, cats, and horses. If you do, leave out the soap, so that it doesn’t hurt their eyes, ears or nose.
#2. The Lavender Homemade Bug Spray
When it comes to lavender, seeing as it’s such a versatile herb, you can use in a lot of different ways to ward off bugs. Here are some of them.
- Lavender soap
The idea is that if you wash your body with soap made from organic lavender oil, it will keep all the insects at bay. It’s very to make as well. All you have to do is take a bottle of simple Castile soap and mix in ten to fifteen drops of pure lavender essential oil. Wash using this soap every day before you head outside and bugs will bother you no more.
- Lavender oil
Another great way of using lavender as a bug repellent is to dab some oil on your skin or even your pet. However, you might need something else to dilute the oil, so that it doesn’t irritate your skin. Here’s what you can do.
- Mix the lavender oil with sweet almond oil, avocado, olive, apricot kernel or sesame oil.
- Add ten to 25 drops of lavender oil to two tablespoons of vegetable oil and one tablespoon of aloe vera gel.
- Lavender with apple cider vinegar
Combining these two ingredients will also work as an excellent homemade bug spray. Mix 25 drops of the oil with a quarter of a cup apple cider vinegar and spray it on your body and clothes. If you find the smell is too strong, and you cannot bear it, replace the vinegar with plain water.
- Lavender pillows or sachets
These are very easy to make. All you need to do is buy some dried lavender and put it into small canvas bags. If you already have the flower in your garden, consider drying and using it. You can also purchase ready-made sachets as these are available all year-round in many stores.
Place them all around the house, in cupboards, closets, near your bed, windows, and in chests. Apart from keeping all sorts of insects at bay, they will freshen up the air as well.
#3. Instead of homemade bug spray, try some candles
If you don’t like the idea of spraying yourself with something or of using essential oils directly on the skin, you can always make candles. Here is the recipe.
Melt half a pound of beeswax. You can try it with a solid block, but breaking it up into smaller pieces makes the process a lot easier and smoother. When you do break it down, make sure the pieces are equal, so that they melt at the same time. The wax must be at 160 degrees so that the process can start.
When you reach this thermal point, you can add the essential oils. Use three drops of citronella oil, three drops of eucalyptus, and two drops of cedar essential oil. Mix them thoroughly into the molten wax. Place the wick in the center of your preferred candle container and gently fill it half way up with hot wax. Set it aside and cool for 20 to 25 minutes. This process will help firm the wick so that it stands up straight as the candle burns out.
As per the last step, pour in the rest of the wax and let it harden completely. Make sure you cut the extra wick each time after burning the candle. If not, it will overheat the glass container and cause it to shatter without notice.
Tip – if you are going to gift these candles, tell the receiving people about trimming the wick as well.
#4. The Onion and Garlic Homemade Bug Spray
There are quite a lot of good smelling concoctions on our list, such as the lavender or the marigold one. However, effectiveness doesn’t always mean a pretty smell. Building on this, a great homemade bug spray is based on onions and garlic. Here is the recipe.
Mince one organic onion and one full head of garlic. You can also chop them in your food processor or blender, peel included. Mix them with one teaspoon organic cayenne pepper and one-quart water and simmer everything on low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. Afterward, let the concoction cool until it reaches room temperature.
Strain everything through a cheesecloth and use your hands to squeeze out any remaining liquid. Add one tablespoon of dish soap and pour it into a spraying container. Give it a gentle shake so as to combine all the ingredients.
You can use this homemade bug spray on all your affected crops and watch how the bugs turn away and leave your greens and your vegetables alone.
Tip – if you can, do not cook or mix this inside the house, especially before you have people over. Even though it’s highly effective in repelling bugs, it does smell awful.
#5. Homemade Bug Spray Recipe Especially for Flies
Before we proceed to the actual recipe, you must know that this solution doesn’t kill off the flies, it merely repels them. Apart from that, you do have to spray it on twice a day, to ensure maximum efficiency. Even so, it’s an excellent way to keep those pesky flies at bay without using chemicals that might endanger you or your pets.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients.
- 4 cups raw apple cider vinegar – make sure it’s organic or brew your own if you have the chance
- 20 drops rosemary essential oil
- 20 drops basil oil
- 20 drops peppermint oil
- Two tablespoons liquid olive oil – organic and liquid. You can replace it with canola oil or a mineral one.
- One tablespoon soap for dishes
Mix everything together directly into a soap bottle. You can apply it to animals as well, as needed. Be careful tough, because it has an overpowering smell.
#6. The ‘Good-for-All-Bugs’ Homemade Bug Spray
Here is one fantastic repellent that works on almost all the bugs that pester us in the summertime. The ingredients are as follows.
- Two tablespoons of witch hazel
- Two tablespoons of jojoba, olive or almond oil
- 50 to 60 drops of essential oils.
Evidently, you can use the oils of your choosing, according to your preferences. Here is an example of a great mix – 30 drops of lemon eucalyptus, ten drops of cedar wood, ten drops of lavender oil, and ten drops of rosemary.
Other essential oils include citronella, tea tree, cypress, peppermint, rose geranium, lemon, cinnamon, and bergamot.
Tip – do some research before using them because some of these oils are not suitable for animals or children under the age of three, such as the lemon eucalyptus one.
As a means of obtaining this spray, all you have to do is mix the witch hazel with oils of your choosing, and rub the resulting substance onto your clothes or directly onto your skin. Be careful as to avoid sensitive areas, such as your eyes, ears, mouth, and private parts.
#7. Using Balm as an Alternative to Homemade Bug Spray
Apart from the lovely candles we detailed above, you can also turn to body balms, in case you are weary of the spray formula. The recipe is a basic one for body butter, to which you must add essential oils to turn it bug repellent. Here are the ingredients you will be needing.
- One-quarter cup and two tablespoons beeswax
- One-quarter cup and two tablespoons cocoa butter
- One-quarter cup coconut oil
- Two tablespoons castor oil
- 15 drops each of citronella, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus essential oils
- 5 drops each of peppermint and geranium essential oils
Put all the ingredients except for the oil in a saucepan and melt them over low heat. Stir continuously and wait until the wax has liquefied as well. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool off until it gets to room temperature. You’ll know it’s there because the edges will turn opaque and hard.
Add the essential oils and pour everything into a glass container, be it bottle or jar. You can also use metal tins if they are at hand. Keep in mind that you have to work fast because the balm will cool off and solidify very quickly, due to its high content of cocoa butter.
It will take around 30 minutes for it to cool completely and become ready for labeling. This idea brings us to a few tips you should be aware of when using homemade bug spray.
Tips When Using Homemade Bug Spray
- Essential oils can cause rashes when applied directly to the skin, especially if they have not been diluted. Therefore, it’s best you try your homemade bug spray on a small patch of skin first and see how it reacts.
- Never apply any of these concoctions to the and around the eyes, mouth, and genital areas, as they will burn.
- It is not advisable to use them on children younger than three years of age.
- If you want to use the bug repellents on your pets, you may do so, but it’s best you do some research first. Some of these plants and oils are naturally toxic to dogs, cats or horses.
- Do not ingest any quantity of homemade bug spray.
- Do not spray the pillow on which you put your face and inhale.
- You can spray them on clothes, but never on underwear.
- Essential oils are made from plants, to which you can have allergies and might not even know about them. Test them first.
- Pregnant and nursing women should stay away from any bug repellent.
Watching a mosquito or fly attempting to land on your skin but changing its mind and immediately back away is the result you are aiming for when using a homemade bug spray. And if you can achieve this effect with natural ingredients only, then one can only benefit from all this!
Benefits of Homemade Products
With this new world of natural, organic, whole, and unprocessed products as a fad and craze, you can imagine there are reasons why people swear by creating their own natural products. The biggest thing right now is the essential oil hype. People swear left and right that they are being cured of almost every ailment, or have the magic preventative because they used this essential oil or that. The thing is, when it comes to natural, it is not just a hype, a craze, or a fad. These are lasting ingredients that will help the body recover and heal itself quickly and safely, as well as work as a precautionary measure for so many things. What are some good reasons to DIY?
When you make your own food, you can be sure of what was put in it. You are able to trust it. When you make your own products, such as bug spray, you will be sure of what was placed in it. There are no hidden words, no misleading labels, and no aspects that you are not privy to. This is good news! This means you will have assurance in what you are putting on your skin and the skin of your loved ones.
Scratch the Creative Itch
Sometimes you just need to create something. If you're anything like me, it is the most fun to create things that are useful as well as involving me in the creative process. Getting my hands in some product is my happy place, and you may find it is yours as well.
Let's be honest, we don't have money to spend on all of these inflated prices. Purchasing the ingredients and making this stuff in your kitchen will save you BIG in the end.
Georgia has graduated from a nutrition expert degree and her work involves some freelance blogging on the side of her main part time job in a doctor’s office. She doesn’t travel a lot due to work constraints, but she likes going out as often as she can to compensate.