All natural bug spray

We recently visited family and friends in Ontario and was impressed when we dropped in to visit some friends and they had made their own natural bug spray! It reminded me that i hadn't made up a new batch at home yet, but would do that when we got back from travelling and also share a recipe with you all, so that you could make your own too!

I'll admit a natural spray isn't as effective in deterring the bugs as a DEET based repellent, but i'd much rather have a couple bites and know that what I put on my skin is healthy and won't build up toxins in my body. I was turned off commercial bug repellent years ago, when a bottle of muskol from a camping trip had leaked on to our hardwood floor and ACTUALLY took the finish off the floor! It peeled it off like I had applied paint remover or taken a heat gun to it. YIKES! Insane that we put this on our skin, no wonder that stuff kills bugs on contact!

There are some new bug repellents out now that don't involve spraying anything on your skin, instead you where it as a clip on and it has a fan that blows the insecticide around your creating a cloud. The only one I've seen so far of this type is by OFF! It uses a pesticide chemical called: Metofluthrin, which is a neurotoxin, so it shouldn't be applied directly to the skin, directly inhaled, and not safe for young children. According to this article, it is likely more toxic than DEET and there are less studies out there on its toxicity than other chemicals commonly used in bug repelling products. Sooo... with that being said, here is my all natural bug spray recipe to share with you all! 

Keeping bugs away doesn't have to mean making your skin and the environment around you toxic. 

Photo credit: Henry Leutwyler


  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1/3 c. witch hazel
  • 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel

Fill the rest of the container with boiled or distilled water.


Add all above ingredients to a spray bottle, then add: 30-50 drops of a blend of: tea tree, lavender, citronella, geranium, clove bud, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf essential oils. 
Example of an essential oil blend you could try: 5 drops tea tree, 5 drops lavender, 10 drops citronella, 5 drops clove bud, 7 drops rosemary, 5 drops eucalyptus, 8 drops mint. OR to keep it simple if you don't want to buy a lot of essential oils or don't have many around, you could try: 
7-10 drops peppermint, 10-12 drops lemongrass, 8-12 drops lavender, 5-7 drops clove bud.

Shake before each use. spritz on to skin as needed. The vinegar and witch hazel are cooling on the skin and act as a carrier for the oils which are the main repellent factor for the bugs. Lavender and clove bud have mild analgesic properties as well, so they will help soothe the skin if you get bit by calming the nervous system.

SUMMER GARDENING TIP: Plants in the mint family: peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, citronella are excellent for repelling bugs and nice to have around in pots on your deck or patio too, to help repel bugs.


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