All-Natural Insect Repellent Recipes To Keep In Your Arsenal


While we adore the summer months, the one thing we all dread is the hum of a mosquito or the buzz of a fly around the barbecue.

You could break out the bug spray, but what about all the food that’s laid out? What about your sensitive skin? Surely there’s a better way? There is 😉

Natural oils, herbs and plants can help keep the crawlies at bay. These are tips and tricks from generations past, and we predict they’re making a come-back.

We’re giving you a run-down on which ingredients to use in your homemade insect repellent and how.

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Don’t let nasty bugs ruin your dinner, barbie or party this summer! Featuring dinnerware from Maxwell & Williams. Shop all tableware on Zanui.

Why Use All-Natural Ingredients?

While the spray solutions we buy off the supermarket shelves are efficient in taking down those pesky critters, they can include potentially harmful chemicals.

The most common chemical used in insect repellent is DEET. Most manufacturers recommend avoiding the use of DEET on the skin (which means many people try to avoid it altogether!).*

It’s also better to consider all-natural ingredients as a way to reduce chemicals being leached into the environment. Love the earth? Love natural alternatives!

*For more information on DEET, see here.

Essential Oils That Repel Bugs

  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass/Lemon
  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint/Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Cedar
  • Lavender
  • Witch Hazel

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Three Quick Mosquito Repellents

  1. Mix 1 part lemon and eucalyptus oil with 10 parts witch hazel. Use as a rub or spray.
  2. Pour 3-4 tbsp. each of lavender oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice into a bottle and distill with water. Shake to combine and spray over clothing.
  3. Rub fresh basil and mint over your skin. Voila!

For more on these recipes, see Survival at Home here.

The Classic All-Rounder Recipe


2 tbsp. witch hazel

2 tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil

1/2 tsp. vodka (as a preservative)

100 drops of any essential oils (see the list above!)


  1. Combine essential oil blend with vodka and oil in a base solution
  2. Fill a spray bottle with water (but leave some room!)
  3. Before use, add your base solution of essential oils to the spray bottle
  4. Shake well before use
  5. Spray onto clothing or furniture and reapply as needed

Original recipe from DIY Natural here.

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The Seriously Heavy-Duty Solution


1L apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. each of dried sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme and mint

1 large glass jar


  1. Put the vinegar and herbs into the large jar
  2. Seal tightly and store on your benchtop, shaking it well once each day to infuse it all together. Do this for 2-3 weeks.
  3. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs from the liquid and store in spray bottles in the fridge.
  4. Dilute the mixture before use if needed or for use on skin.

Original recipe from Wellness Mama here. (Apparently this recipe is so strong it can be a bit pungunt but the smell dies down as the solution dries) 😉

Tips and Warnings For Safe Use

As with all chemical mixtures, you need to be careful. Most of these tips are common sense but do be cautious when using your insect repellent!

  • Consult your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or have sensitive skin
  • Do not use directly on the skin of children or babies
  • Always perform a ‘patch’ test on skin before using to check for allergies
  • Label homemade solutions well and keep out of reach of children

Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.