DIY Natural Insect Repellent with Essential Oils

Are the mosquitos already feasting on you or your little ones? You’ll be relieved to know our favorite DIY natural insect repellent is easy to make AND it works.

You’ll also find other homemade natural bug spray recipes and a few brands that make safe versions in case you’re not into DIY.

DIY natural insect repellent safe for kids

We keep a glass bottle of DIY bug spray in our cars, near the back door, the kids’ sports bags, mom’s purse, and our natural first aid kit. Ending up with a bunch of mosquito bites because you were unprepared is no fun. So try to make a bottle for all your usual on the go summer places.

Commercial insect repellents are toxic, smell awful, and can cause skin rashes and breathing problems in people sensitive to the chemicals they contain. DEET has been the popular bug repelling ingredient for many years, but it has yet to be proven safe. (source) In fact, it’s been linked to neuron death in the brain, memory and concentration issues, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and dizziness, among other health concerns.

Children are at a higher risk for brain changes after DEET exposure because their skin absorbs it more readily and their systems are smaller and still developing. The EPA has yet to include DEET in tests for endocrine disruptors so that’s an additional unknown factor when it comes to safety.

What is the strongest natural insect repellent?

Insects tend to avoid most highly fragrant plants. When you distill those plants down to their very essence (essential oils), it makes them even more potent. The strongest ones are citronella, lavender, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. Rosemary and lemon are also powerful.

Further down you’ll find the types of herbs and flowers to grow in your yard to help keep bugs away. Some of those can be found in these recipes.

Here’s a natural mosquito repellent recipe you can feel good about using (and it smells great, too!)

DIY Natural Insect Repellent & Bug Spray

Mist skin and clothing with one of these essential oil bug repellent mixtures and reapply as needed. For small children, you may feel more comfortable spraying their clothing and shoes, rather than their skin. You know if your child has sensitivities so trust past experience and your own judgment.

Add a label with the ingredients to the bottle in case you share it with someone who has allergies. (We also make our own hand sanitizer with Young Living’s Thieves essential oil and once almost shared it with someone who is allergic to cinnamon. Luckily we talked about the ingredients first!)

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5 from 1 vote

DIY Insect Repellent Recipe (Essential Oils)

Simple and effective essential oil based DIY bug spray
Prep Time5 minutes


  • 4 oz glass spray bottle


  • 3 oz Distilled water
  • 15 drops Citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops Lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops Eucalyptus essential oil


  • Add distilled water to glass spray bottle
  • Add each essential oil (drop from bottle) to the mixture
  • Shake well before each use (essential oils don't dissolve in water)

This recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs includes a few more ingredients, but is another safe and effective option.

Herbal + Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent

5 from 1 vote
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  • 8 oz glass spray bottle


  • 4 oz organic catnip leaf extract
  • 4 oz organic witch hazel
  • 20 drops organic cedarwood essential oil
  • 20 drops organic lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops organic lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops organic rosemary essential oil
  • 10 drops organic lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops organic lemon essential oil


  • Pour both catnip extract and witch hazel extract into an 8 oz. bottle. 
  • Slowly drip the essential oils into the bottle.
  • Cap the bottle and shake vigorously to combine.
  • Store in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lid
  • Mixture will be shelf-stable for up to a year when stored properly.

Any combination of these essential oils can ward off most insects: citronella, rosemary, lavender, clove, cedar, lemongrass, tea tree, cajeput, eucalyptus, catnip, geranium, mint.

Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Lemongrass essential oils are versatile. They have dozens of uses when it comes to helping baby sleep, keeping your family healthy and cleaning & greening your home.

Natural Ways to Repel Ticks

Preventing a tick bite is extremely important. Cases of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tick related illnesses can be scary and dangerous. The Farmers Almanac lists these as four ways to safely repel ticks.

  1. Cedar oil
  2. A mixture of 9 drops citronella, 6 drops tea tree, and 6 drops peppermint essential oils in one tablespoon of almond oil
  3. Neem oil
  4. Apple cider vinegar

Safe Bug Spray Brands

If you’re on vacation without your homemade bug sprays or don’t want to DIY, these are safe brands you can trust. Be sure to read the ingredients if you have family members with allergies or sensitive skin.

The safest brands we’ve found are from California Baby, Babyganics, and Badger.

Other Natural Insect-Repelling Ideas

These ideas can help in a pinch. Especially if you’re just going out to take care of a few things in your yard or garden and don’t want to end up feeling like a blood bank.

  • Plant insect-repelling herbs like lavender, thyme, catnip, mint, basil, and citronella in your yard. Plant them close to the areas where you spend the most time outside. These herbs have many other health benefits too.
  • Grab a handful of lavender flowers (or use lavender oil) and rub onto your skin to repel bugs.
  • Rub fresh or dried leaves of any plant in the mint family onto skin (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc). Citronella and lemongrass also work in herb form.

Do you have a favorite mosquito repellent natural option? If so, let us know if the comments.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I would love to find an alternative to Deet for repelling ticks completely! None of the natural repellants ever seem to mention ticks & that is our utmost concern. Lyme Disease is horrible & had destroyed lives of family members.

    1. Amity Hook-Sopko says:

      This is a great question, Kristen. We’ll update the article, as I’m sure other parents are concerned about ticks.
      The Farmers Almanac says, “Cedar oil is a non-toxic, natural tick and insect repellent. It can be sprayed directly on clothing and skin. It is safe for use on humans and pets. Not only does cedar oil repel ticks and other irritating insects, but it kills them.”

  2. This has nothing to do with insects as I have found a great recipe, but I’ve been looking and trying for YEARS to ease the pain caused by fibromyalgia. I haven’t had a day in my life without pain, all day, every day. It would be a godsend to be rid of fibro pain.

  3. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama says:

    bug bites!

  4. I would love a remedy for bug bites!!

  5. would love a natural remedy for bug bites

  6. Is this contest for Canada as well?
    If so, I live in a city known for it’s mosquitoes so I would love to try something natural and safe for my little ones!

  7. Jeri Thurber says:

    We use lavender oil for relief from insect bites!

  8. melanie thomson says:

    I’d love a good natural remedy for bug bites!

  9. I would love to find an all natural sunscreen and of course something for sunburn relief.

  10. Sounds divine, thanks for this chance to win 🙂

  11. This would be so handy to have, a natural remedy that works and smlls divine. I have others by you and especially love the blend Joy. I have shared, thank you

  12. I would a natural remedy for gnats and fruit flies that actually works.

  13. Samantha Allen says:

    I’d love one for a good sun block!

  14. I would love a natural remedy for gnats that love to hover over my tomatoes and bananas.

  15. Christina says:

    I would love a natural rememdy to keep the big flying ants out of the house. I’m so tired of being bit at night 🙂

  16. Emily Benz says:

    We are shedding our city life for a new farm and I’m hoping for lots more dirt, bumps and bruises — and uses for gentle healing — as my boy explores freely. Thanks for the chance to take home a great set of essential oils.

  17. lureta mcd says:

    would love this – already have our first round of bites.

  18. Christina O says:

    I’m mainly interested in bug repellent–especially mosquitos!

  19. Elizabeth Shatzer says:

    Bug bites! Baking soda helps for a bit, but I need something better!

  20. Sunburn and heat stroke. Would love to keep the summer weather out of the triple digets in my area.

  21. Elisa Farrow says:

    One word… Mosquitos.

  22. Erin Pavlica says:

    I would love a remedy for poision ivy, please!

  23. Dixie Jarman says:

    I would love to see a remedy for itchy bugbites.

  24. Brianna Lebrecht says:

    Well, thanks to some research a few weeks ago I made my own bug spray for camping (used witch hazel instead of water and I used peppermint instead of eucalyptus). Sunburn is a definite that we need a good remedy for!

  25. Perfect for Vermont summer’s!!!!

  26. Holly Petrie says:

    REALLY need to keep those pesky skeeters at bay!

  27. a natural anti irch cream would be great. Also I would be interested to see if their was a natural remedy for planter warts, my kids seem to get these evry now and then.

  28. I would most like a natural remedy for mosquito bites

  29. A natural sunscreen recipe

  30. christina says:

    I would love to keep the bugs away this summer. My 18 month old daughter just contracted lyme disease and I’m terrified.

  31. I want to clear up all these hay fever sniffles.

  32. I want a cure for those super itchy mosquito bites since I seem to be a mosquito magnet!

  33. Itch relief after being bit

  34. Glenda Williams says:

    would love to be able to be outside in the evenings without being eatr alive by all those insects, would love to have some of the essential oil giveaway.

  35. Brandi Bowers says:

    I’d love a natural insect repellant. Everything with chemicals to put on DD’s skin just scares me!

  36. How to relieve the itch after you’ve been bitten, without chemicals! Mosquitoes are horrible this year!

  37. Well it is mosquito season almost all year here in Florida so the bug repellant recipe would be #1. But I do also like essential oils in my bath for relaxation and headaches and also to make air fresheners and room sprays.

  38. Erinn Knoll says:

    The mosquitos are really really really bad where I live…….can’t even go outside sometimes with the kids they r unbearable. Would love to try this combo!

  39. Alysha Salas says:

    I would live to use them for the bug repellent!

  40. I’d love a natural sunburn remedy or sunscreen. (Bug repellent is a must in summer, too!)

  41. I would love to enjoy the evening fires without the gnats and mosquitos ruining the moment!

  42. Deidre Davis says:

    Mosquitoes and sunburn…or if you could tell me how to repel flies (we have a horse barn two houses down), that would be fabulous! 🙂

  43. Catherine C. says:

    A natural way to keep ticks away from my family and a way to calm my little one’s skin when he does get a bug bite.

  44. I tried to reply using the contest form but it went thru w/o my comment. -Jessica
    With all the bugs around, I would most like the natural repellent and one good for ticks too.

  45. I would love these essential oils to deter mosquitoes!

  46. Erin Becker says:

    Insect repellent, especially to keep the ticks away. We had a warm winter so they’re bad already this year.

  47. Danika @ Your Organic Life says:

    I would like a natural remedy for poison oak/ivy. We haven’t gotten it yet, but best to be prepared.

  48. Does this work for ticks? The skeeters are bad around here but so are the ticks. I would LOVE to win this though.

  49. Danielle Teslevich says:

    I just order some essential oils…but didn’t even think about insect repellent! Those buggers are attracted to me and I have the worst reaction 🙁 the oils would be great!

  50. Cockroaches and spiders getting in the house!! (not an ailment, but they are a pain in my butt)


  51. Gabrielle says:

    BUG REPELLANT for sure!!!!

  52. would love an all natural tick repellant!

  53. Holly Wilson says:

    I most want a natural mosquito repellant. Here in SW Oklahoma, they get pretty big! And I can tolerate other bugs, but I HATE mosquitoes!

  54. Patty Passehl says:

    I would love to not worry about the mosquitoes. We are try tying to looks at natural ways to do things. Like laundry, cleaning, going to try a more natural way to repel bugs. This would help me get started.

  55. I love them all. You can mix so many for different things.

  56. would love a natural repellent for fleas, they are out of control this year!

  57. Allergies and bug bites like chiggers or ticks.

  58. Brenna @ Almost All The Truth says:

    Definitely allergies and insects are the two things we haven’t found the perfect solution for!

  59. I would love an insect repellant that lasts a couple hours.

  60. Natural insect repellent and Natural Sunscreen!

  61. For the kids, ticks and mosquitos, for me, sunburn!

  62. Tamara Wineland says:

    We live in the DEEP south but hate to be poisoned by all the repellents used to keep the pesky critters away. Anything natural that works gets my attention. Can’t wait to try this DIY spray!

  63. Mosquito Bites for sure! My daughter scratches and scratches and just won’t let them heal.

  64. I love using tea tree and lavender for bugs; this looks a lot better! I would like a remedies for dry cracked heels… Summer sandal weather is on the way!

  65. Emily Reinewald says:

    I would love a moisturizing cure for burns

  66. I worry about ticks and my little one!

  67. Ashley Gillian says:

    Oh my goodness, I can’t even explain how thrilled I would be to win this!!!!!!

  68. Ashley Gillian says:

    EXACTLY as someone else said – I would most like a natural summer remedy for mosquito bites and sunburn! I can’t stand mosquito bites (or really – bugs in general) and I am a red head with a four year old boy who’s skin needs protecting too lol A natural sunscreen would be ideal but if the burn happens I want a way to treat it naturally!

  69. Would love insect repellant!

  70. Lisa Brown says:

    Something to keep bees away!

  71. Maria Zygmunt says:

    Love to explore all the different uses with these!

  72. Would love a kid-friendly anti-itch cream recipe!

  73. I would love a remedy for insect bites!

  74. and of course the summer ailment I want is for those little buggers

  75. love YLEO!!! the best!!

  76. Michelle D. says:

    I would love a sunblock that works and doesn’t irritate my little guy or hurt his eyes when he rubs his hand all over his face after I put it on.

  77. Just beginning my EO adventure! We have so many ailments within my family and I am super excited to begin healing naturally and eliminating chemicals within our home.

  78. DIY insect repellant is great! Thank you.
    As much as I’ve heard, I could hear more on the topic of sun safety.
    And how about what to carry in my bag for scrapes etc at the park and such?

  79. Ronica Case says:

    Would love to try this. My girls react horribly to mosquito bites so repellent is a must. If these work, that would be awesome. Hate to use off but definitely need something

  80. Lavender is such a soothing essential oil and can be applied directly to the skin.

  81. Michelle C says:

    I want/need a tick-repellant. Hate those little buggers!

  82. Catherine says:

    With all the bugs in our area, I would most like the natural remedy for bug bites for my little one.

    1. Marie-Josee says:

      Calendula flowers are a great, and natural, bug bite remedy! If you have flowers growing in your garden, you can make a quick paste by chewing the flower, and rubbing onto bites. Of course, you can also mix with olive oil instead to make a paste. It soothes stings! And calendula is edible … gentle and safe for babies.

  83. Nicole Justice-Kleemann says:

    I would most like a natural summer remedy for mosquito bites and sunburn!