DIY All Natural Bug + Tick Spray
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Bug spray is considered a summer necessity to protect yourself from mosquitos, ticks, and other little critters. But if you're like me, you may be hesitant to use ingredients like DEET on a regular basis to repel those pests.
Commercial bug sprays commonly contain DEET. While DEET has been deemed safe (in low doses) for the population by the Environmental Protection Agency, it still has a bad reputation. Studies done in the past have highlighted its negative affects if used incorrectly, like breathing it in or accidentally consuming it in any manner. Seizures/brain toxicity in children, and the fact the DEET inhibits a nervous system chemical that enables muscle activity are just a couple of newsworthy headlines that have called to question the safety of DEET.
Regardless of DEET's effectiveness of repelling insects, to prevent adverse reactions, like skin irritation, I choose to make my own bug spray. I'm comfortable spraying this on my clothes and putting it on my skin, without the worry of overexposure to DEET or the reliance of a harsh chemical. Now that I've grown my essential oil collection, it's inexpensive to continue to make my own. I truly do not like the smell of traditional bug spray and love the fact that I don't feel like I need to shower after using it (like I used to do with other bug sprays).
As always, after making a new recipe, I recommend trying it out on a patch of skin first to make sure you don't have any adverse reactions. Using plant botanicals means you could have an allergic reaction you might not be aware of! Especially if you're using essential oils you've never tried before.
This is my second refill of this bug spray, so I know it not only works for me but it smells amazing!! I've used it multiple times up north like camping near the Boundary Waters where the mosquitos were thick. My Dad personally requested his own bottle after using it, too! All you need to do is apply liberally and reapply as necessary-typically every hour or two depending on the severity of bugs.
As always, the majority of oils I used are Rocky Mountain Oils (RMO) with the exception of a Doterra's lemon essential oil (also my favorite for adding a drop into water). All of these essential oils naturally repel bugs like mosquitos, spiders, and ticks. If you don't have any witch hazel, you can use vodka instead.
The oils in RMO's Bug Away blend are lavender, thyme, citronella, cedarwood, and lemongrass. If you don't have Bug Away or a similar blend, I would recommend using 10 drops of lavender and 20 drops of citronella if possible. The rule is for every 4 ounces, use 40-50 drops of oils. This dilution rate is safe for children and adults 10+. I had an 8 ounce spray bottle, so I used around 100 drops. The amount of witch hazel/vodka does not have to be exact either. I tend to use a little more when I eyeball it. Be sure to avoid your eyes and mouth when you spray it on.
If you use this recipe, let me know how it works for you!