Natural Bug Repellant


Photo credit: John Tann on Visual Hunt / CC BY



I am a human mosquito magnet.

No joke!  My husband even notices it; whenever he’s outdoors and is starting to get bit by flying insects, he laughs and encourages his “mosquito repellant” to get a little closer.  The bugs fly from him and attack me.

When I first started on the GAPS Diet, I noticed a slight decrease in the amount of mosquito bites I would suffer from each season.  I assumed it was from the lack of refined sugar in my diet (I was “slightly” an addict before); however, over the last couple of years there has been an upsurge in mosquitos in our area, and the bites are back. 

Add to that the fact that I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease (and co-infections), and I am now out to protect myself (and my entire family) from mosquito bites and ticks this season.  With the mild recent winter here in the Midwest, experts are predicting a huge increase in the amount of ticks (and with it, Lyme disease) that we see this season.  Local vets were reporting cases of Lyme disease as early as February this year.

The conundrum arises when you are trying to protect your family from these pests, and yet nearly every product out there marketed as an insect repellant is full of harmful toxins that you don’t want to expose your family to. (Tip: to see the effects of each ingredient that is in the product you personally use, please visit the Environmental Working Group at  You can enter the name of your product into their database and receive a toxicity rating.)

For the last couple of years, we have been using this homemade, natural bug repellant on our family.  It works extremely well (as long as you remember to use it!) and is made with ingredients that you can pronounce: non-toxic, natural, and easy to make … DIY perfection!

Tip to the reader: the quality of your essential oils does make a difference even in products that you are spraying on your skin.  Our skin is permeable, meaning that products we place on it can be absorbed into our body.  Essential oils (as well as those toxic chemicals in your bug spray from the corner store) can be found in the bloodstream within 26 SECONDS.  Unlike food that we eat, which is digested and then absorbed and directed to the liver where toxins are neutralized, anything that is absorbed from our skin into our bloodstream has the freedom to go anywhere in the body that it wants to: the brain, our endocrine system, anywhere.  Unfortunately, due to the recent increase in interest in essential oils, there are companies on the market that are just in it for the money: their products are of poor quality, and may even contain chemical solvents, pesticides, and other toxins that you do not want to expose your family to.  Please choose your essential oil company wisely.

Also, while I would use this recipe on my kids regardless of their age because I am familiar with essential oils and their properties, there are some who question the use of certain essential oils with young children (again, much of this stems back to essential oils of questionable quality).  For those readers who would prefer a recipe that is acceptable to the majority of oil users for children under the age of two, I have also included a recipe for “Baby Bug Spray”. 

The original recipe for our Natural Bug Repellant can be found on the website 


Natural Bug Repellant

1 oz. witch hazel

1 oz. grapeseed oil (you can substitute any carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, almond oil, etc.)

35 drops citronella essential oil

20 drops eucalyptus essential oil (I prefer eucalyptus radiata)

15 drops lemon essential oil

15 drops lemongrass essential oil

15 drops cedarwood essential oil


Combine all ingredients together in a 4 oz. glass spray bottle.  Shake well before use.

Reapply often, up to every couple of hours as needed.


Baby Bug Spray

2 Tbs. witch hazel

1 tsp. carrier oil or vegetable glycerin

5 drops citronella essential oil

3 drops cedarwood essential oil

2 drops orange essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

2 drops tea tree essential oil

Cedarwood essential oil is an important part of this bug repellant spray, as it is effective at repelling ticks.  I spray this blend over our clothes and any exposed skin from head to toe. 


Have a wonderful outdoors season this year … bug free!!

~ Alicia

7 Replies to “Natural Bug Repellant”

  1. Glad you made a big deal about oil quality. I recently followed an online interview series ‘summit’ on essential oils. The information was excellent but only near the end of the week a woman was interviewed who spoke entirely on the poor quality of most oil on the market today. It should have been a ‘headliner’ interview. People don’t want to think that the ‘healthy’ stuff they buy is either diluted, toxic, adulterated, or disappearing. I get it, it’s not ‘happy’ and ‘positive’ to face these facts, but no point in being an ostrich.


    1. I completely agree with you Liz! The quality of the oils makes a big difference. If we are trying to avoid synthetic chemicals and toxins in our environment and on our bodies, this includes making sure that our essential oils don’t contain synthetics, pesticides, solvents, or toxins, which sadly many of the ones on the market do.


  2. Very helpful info, I know the difference in quality of essential oil is varies quite a bit, so always get the good stuff (I worked at a co-op for a little over a year in the Wellness dept. just to learn as much about this kind of stuff as possible,) but didn’t know it could be absorbed through the skin as quickly as 26 seconds!

    I’ve been mixing my own repellant and it cuts down on bites, but isn’t 100% effective (more like 75%) and the recipe I use is a bit different so I’ll be eager to try this recipe, thanks!


      1. Excellent, thanks! I’ll definitely try it once it warms up (don’t haev to worry about skeeters currently in Minnesota as it’s -13 😦 But still good hiking weather with the proper layers 🙂

        Sorry about the Lyme’s disease too. It’s getting out of control, just saw Babe Winkleman being interviewed on TV the other morning, and he’s had it 3x, as has his daughter.

        I read a book about six months ago (“Lab 257” about a biological research station on an island off the Eastern coast, which was formed in the early 1950’s, and wasn’t exactly properly secured at all times. The wind vectors from the island went directly to Lyme, Connecticut, where of course it was first discovered. Scary stuff, how fast it’s spreading.


  3. Hi, I just want to ask for the baby bug spray, what size of a spray bottle to use? is it still 4oz or smaller? I have been wanting to make this but I am not sure. Also, is it alright to use a plastic spray bottle? I’ve tried using a glass spray bottle but in our place, we don’t have a “vacuum” glass spray bottle only the plastic because the glass ones require me to replenish even if what’s left is about more than 1/4 of the bottle (sometimes at half).



    1. Hi Rhea!

      Yes, for the baby bug spray, it would be the same size. And while glass is preferred, you could also use a plastic container. Medical grade or spray bottles designed for use with essential oils are best. I usually find these on places like Amazon. ☺️ ~ Alicia


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