Make Your Own Bug Repellent

Many bug repellents that we spray on our skin have chemicals that can aggravate out skin and our health.  Some of these products also contain DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) which doesn’t exactly repel insects, but instead it “erases” the scent of carbon dioxide that emanates from our skin so that they aren’t attracted to us. Although is very effective in repelling mosquitoes and other disease carrying insects, has also been shown to cause sever health problems when mixed with other medications. (Which ones? I cant find a straight answer on that).  Infants should NEVER be exposed to DEET at all because it can cause potential brain damage, but the EPA has deemed it safe for use in adults and older children if used properly…..hmmm. Insect repellents that contain DEET  have to be sprayed 6-8 inches away from the skin, should not be inhaled, and should also be washed off thoroughly with soap and water after a few hours.. Those products should not come in contact with acetate, rayon, spandex and other synthetics and don’t spray it on wounds, cuts or sun-burnt skin. Other products like Cutter and Avon’s Skin So Soft contain Picaridin which is a chemical that has been used in Europe for years, but it is relatively new in the U.S. It has less side effects than DEET, and is easier on the skin, but should also be used according to the manufacturers’ directions. I don’t know anyone who follows ALL of the above directions. And it also bothers me that the above mentioned products have parabens and other icky ingredients.

I was curious to see if I could effectively make a chemical-free insect repellent, and I’m pleased to say, the recipe I found below works pretty well. And (with the addition of a base oil), it won’t leave your skin feeling dry.

DIY Bug Repellent


  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup witch hazel (or cheap vodka)
  • 5 drops of citronella or eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 tbsps jojoba oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Funnel


Use the funnel to pour all ingredients into spray bottle. Shake well. Spray directly onto skin and rub in. Shake well before each use.

I will admit that I didn’t try this in the deep forest, but instead I chose to wear it when gardening and and BBQs. And if you’re not sure if you’re allergic to the above oils

You can get the ingredients at a local Health Food Store, and as always, both the citronella oil and eucalyptus oil can be purchased at the Savvy Shop.

  • Do you have a Bug spray recipe that you use? Please comment to this post with your recipe.


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