Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipe With Essential Oils

All-Natural Bug Spray Recipe

This all-natural bug spray recipe is not only bad for bugs, it’s good for you. Good, because it’s super simple. Good, because it actually smells nice. And good, because it’s not toxic on your skin. All that and it keeps mosquitoes from biting.

Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipe with essential oils

If you’ve visited recently you would have probably happened by the Citronella CANdle project where you will have learned two things: I hate mosquitoes and love easy projects.

Oh, and one more thing, I don’t like toxic stuff, particularly on my skin as you will see in the Natural Skincare Series of recipes. So when it’s time to blow out the CANdles and come inside, invariably a few little buggers have camped out in hiding spots around the bedroom just waiting to hear rhythmic breathing.

I used to douse myself in horrible smelling bug sprays and lotions but it disrupted me as much as the mosquitoes didn’t like it. This recipe uses some pleasing essential oils in a base of witch hazel that I love and they hate.  Take that!



Make it!

1. Add all ingredients into a small glass or plastic atomizer. Shake.

2. Shake well and apply liberally.

3. Label your jar with this printable.  Just right click the image and save.

bug off printable


Looking for more information? Here is a handy resource guide for finding all you will need to create a home apothecary:

Create a Home Apothecary supplies and resources

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Sharon
    SharonAugust 10,12

    i am so very allergic to everything (it seems) that having my daughter point out your bug spray recipe from pintrest is WONDERFUL!!!

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 10,12

      Sharon, be sure to test on a small area first as you could also be sensitive to these ingredients.

  2. Ruth
    RuthAugust 11,12

    Sounds wonderful! Lookin’ forward to trying this next week when I can gather the needed items. ;-D

  3. Karrie
    KarrieAugust 11,12

    Hi! How long would one bottle keep, you think? This (along with some other goodies) would be a perfect christmas stuffer (I’m from a tropical country and we have bugs all year long.) Thanks!

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 12,12

      Karrie, I don’t have a definitive answer but I make small batches and throw anything unused away after 6 months. If it looks or smells “off” err on the side of caution and make a fresh batch.

  4. tiki
    tikiAugust 12,12

    even the bottle is pretty. great i don’t have to buy store bought stuff. :)

  5. Tracy
    TracyAugust 13,12

    Where is the best place to buy the essential oils??

  6. staci
    staciAugust 13,12

    you can find them at health food stores or all natural stores, some grocery stores have some of the essential oils.

  7. Katie
    KatieAugust 13,12

    That sure looks like it smells nice too!

  8. James @ Capital Gardens
    James @ Capital GardensSeptember 5,12

    I will definitely have to give this a try. I don’t like the idea of bug sprays from supermarkets because of all the chemicals and I hate the smell but I am being bitten a few times a day at the moment (I’m scratching my arms as I type), so this sounds perfect.

    Thanks for sharing,
    James @ Capital Gardens

  9. Chelsea
    ChelseaSeptember 22,12

    Wow, this is awesome. I wish I found this earlier.

  10. suzy
    suzyOctober 12,12

    going to try this one too i love that i found this site

  11. Stacy
    StacyJanuary 8,13

    My family and I love to go camping and the mosquitoes LOVE to taste my 5 yr. old…..I am glad to find an all natural spray I can use on my child as well as on myself…I am looking forward to trying this :) Thanks !

  12. Dionne
    DionneMarch 2,13

    Where would I find pure witch hazel? Also, do’terra essential oils are wonderful!

  13. stevie
    stevieMarch 2,13

    Hi Dionne, try a natural food store like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Or you can get some here:

  14. Marie
    MarieMarch 20,13

    Thabks for sharing this great recipe! I’m using it for an Essentially DIY make and take this weekend at my SwissJust aromatherapy workshop.

  15. Michele
    MicheleApril 5,13

    What size bottle did you use? Can’t wait to make it!

  16. ALOC
    ALOCApril 12,13

    Will this spray stain clothing? Will it wash out? Thank you!

  17. newbie
    newbieApril 21,13

    You can also go to for a 2pack for cheaper:

  18. Gloria
    GloriaMay 7,13

    Will this repel ticks? I have had Lyme disease for a year and i am deathly of getting another bite. Thanks for your help.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseMay 8,13

      I can’t say for sure. To be safe, I would talk to your healthcare provider.

  19. Felicia
    FeliciaMay 20,13

    I have a cookout to attend this Memorial Day weekend, so I will make a few batches for myself and friends. I just need to pick up some Citronella EO. I have all of the other ingredients in the house already.

  20. Jazzy
    JazzyMay 21,13

    Can u use peppermint oil in place of mint?

    • Michele
      MicheleAugust 5,16

      If you click on the name of the oil, it will guide you to where you can buy it and with the “mint”, it guides you to Amazon where it is listed as Peppermint. Hope that helps.

  21. Marguerite
    MargueriteMay 22,13

    I really love this recipe. I will share with link to your page if that is Ok.

  22. MIstyDawn
    MIstyDawnMay 25,13

    I don’t have these essential oils but I do happen to have all of these plants growing in my yard… Could I let the leaves sit in a jar of witch hazel in a sunny window for a while to draw to scent and oils out? It works with olive oil usually… but I’ve never tried it with witch hazel.

    • Stephanie
      StephanieMay 26,13

      MistyDawn, you could try it. You are making an oil infusion that way not an essential oil which is much much stronger. Using the garden herbs means adding much more oil to mix and even then it may not be as effective in deterring the bugs. Essential oils are easy to fine. There are some links to them online in the post. thanks!

  23. brittanie
    brittanieMay 26,13

    why do all of them have witch hazel in it i need a recipe that doesnt have all of those ingredients in it please tell me a racipe

  24. Kayla
    KaylaMay 27,13

    Any idea if this is safe to use on babies? (Specifically an 11-month-old)

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseMay 28,16

      No essential oils are recommended for babies 6 months or younger and many essential oils are not safe for children under 6. I would do a bit of research for those specifics and talk to your healthcare professional.

  25. Naturalgirl
    NaturalgirlJune 3,13

    No, citronella is not safe on babies… It is even being investigated as a carinogen ( cancer causing).

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJune 3,13

      Naturalgirl, thanks for the information. Do you have any research or links that we can look at for more info? It seems there is limited concern about using 100% pure citronella oil as an insect repellent that I can find. There is a brief statement noted here which states that the US and Canada found no health risks over many years of study but that in the EU they can sell it as perfume not insect repellent. I wouldn’t use it on baby’s sensitive skin anyhow, as with most essential oils. But it’s good to get a sense for if there are issues with big kids too. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Rosalicious
    RosaliciousJune 6,13

    You may be able to substitute geranium essential oil for the citronella. Geranium repels bugs. I Don’t think the citronella is that necessary. And it is not a good ingredient for sensitive skin or children. It is a carcinogen. If that doesn’t work, keep asking, looking. Citronella is not good on bodies. Period.

  27. Rosalicious
    RosaliciousJune 6,13

    There are many bug repenllants that smell wonderful with clove oil. Try that too.

  28. karolina pisarek
    karolina pisarekJune 23,13

    I’ve just created this repellant today,such fun to make,i will test how it works soon as i have a warm dry summer evening filled with unwanted buzzing guests!

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJune 23,13

      How fun! I look forward to hearing how it works for you. It works perfectly for me. And if I ever get a bite the spray takes away the itch too.

  29. Trish
    TrishJune 27,13

    Does this work on Dogs?

  30. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 27,13

    Hi Trish, great question. I can’t see why not. You probably don’t want them to lick it off their fur perhaps. I would ask you vet or perhaps another reader will have some experience with using these ingredients on dogs.

  31. Shawn
    ShawnJuly 1,13

    I didn’t have citronella, but substituted lavender and patchouli, both bug repellant. It also adds a slightly different scent note. Repels like a charm!

  32. Joanna
    JoannaJuly 13,13

    Do you need to use the rosemary and eucalyptus for bug-repelling qualities? Or are they there more for the pleasant scent?

  33. Mari
    MariJuly 28,13

    Do all the oils work better together? Or can we omit some or sub lavender for a nice scent? Been looking for a natural repellent for camping next week and ur recipe fits the bill. Thanks

  34. Stephanie
    StephanieJuly 28,13

    Mari, this is the combination that works for me, but you are welcome to experiment. Keep in mind that some of the scents that you like, the mosquitoes may also like!

  35. Wendy
    WendyAugust 12,13

    Any idea if is recipe is dog friendly? Many things that are fine for humans are poisonous to dogs. It would be great to have an all natural bug repellent for my pooches…if it didn’t make them sick :)

  36. joan
    joanAugust 19,13 is an awesome place to get essential oils for a reasonable price.

  37. protein shot
    protein shotSeptember 10,13

    Greetings, I think your website could be having internet browser compatibility
    issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when
    opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues.
    I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful site!

  38. Michelle
    MichelleSeptember 28,13

    Please do a search on google for essential oils that are harmful to dogs. Many are. The oils in this recipe should be fine except the citronella – I am not sure about this one. I make a spray with oils similar to this recipe but you need to research each oil you use for its safety with dogs. Very few oils are safe for cats. Both animals systems process these oils much differently than we do. Use caution please. Witch Hazel gives the oils a medium in which to spray onto your skin. It is soothing to bites and skin irritations. I use witch hazel and distilled water as the medium to host the oils in a spray bottle.
    Have fun choosing oils to use but research please!

  39. Tammy
    TammyAugust 30,14

    Bug Off is a protected name. Just an FYI in case the company comes after you like they’ve done to others.

  40. Scuba Hides
    Scuba HidesFebruary 11,15

    Very informative article post.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

  41. June
    JuneApril 27,15

    Seems like an expensive recipe. How much do you think all ingredients would cost?

  42. todd gak
    todd gakJune 17,15

    love it much!

  43. Nectaria
    NectariaJune 24,15

    I would really like to give this a try as my boys are constantly bitten when they go their dad’s. I’m confused as to why citronella is used when (from comments below) that it’s not safe and is a carcinogen??

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 5,16

      I have asked the commenter to provide more information or studies on citronella being unsafe as I have not been able to find references regarding this. Here is the Wikipedia entry for citronella oil: As with all home recipes, it is best to test it on a small area of your body first and talk to your healthcare professional if you have questions. All I can say is that it works for me and my family!

  44. ask
    askJuly 16,15

    Hello There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn. That is a very well
    written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful
    info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  45. Hil
    HilMay 23,16

    I love being able to make my own products, I have almost all of this stuff anyway!

    Have you linked up at #bloggerspotlight yet this week?

  46. Grandmas House DIY
    Grandmas House DIYMay 31,16

    Thank you for this! Pinning it to my Handy Tips board!

  47. Gail Quarles
    Gail QuarlesJune 1,16

    For those of you who want a one oil spray, geranium oil is great. as a rule mosquitos LOVE me, last summer I wiped on the Geranium oil and had one bite!

  48. Melissa Clymer, CCAP
    Melissa Clymer, CCAPJune 7,16

    You never put essential oils in plastic unless it is PET plastic which was not specified. Eucalyptus is not safe for children under 10 years old neither is Rosemary, so please do not use it on small children. Also, a tablespoon of Castile soap should be added to this because essential oils will float and not disperse in this.

  49. Rachele Nelson
    Rachele NelsonJune 12,16

    How often would you recommend this be applied?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 5,16

      Every person is different. I do it every few hours, some may do it every 30 minutes depending on where you are and how many mosquitoes there are.

  50. Andrew
    AndrewJune 12,16

    Natural bug sprays have to be reapplied constantly to be effective. Saw a really good comparison once and the effectiveness on them ranged from about 25 minutes to as little as 5 minutes, where super high DEET concentrations can last 6-8 hours (I personally stick with lower concentrations and just reapply every 2 hours). I would only recommend them if you have skin sensitivity issues (I have a very good friend with eczema who has to use them.)

  51. Michele
    MicheleAugust 5,16

    It would be nice if the author responds to the questions. I actually would like to know the answers to some as they apply to not just me but others. Thank you.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 5,16

      Hi Michele, I have been responding to questions for the years that this recipe has been up, but some of them didn’t show as a reply (you can see them below the comment in many cases) because of the format this blog had 4 years ago. I have updated a few more so they show up. and I have also added a link to a resource guide that I have created to find equipment and ingredients. Thanks for your suggestion!

  52. A. M.
    A. M.October 6,16

    The label is so cute, though <3
    I even think I could recreate this as a liquid candle thingy and have both – an effective insect repellent and a cosy autumn candle (I tend to buy tons of them anyways, why not DIY them?).

  53. Nora
    NoraOctober 21,16

    That is a great recipe. We go to the park often, so this is handy. Can we use floral water instead of witch hazel?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseOctober 21,16

      Hi Nora, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say. But please let us know if it works for you.

  54. Jaime Scott
    Jaime ScottNovember 5,17

    Yes, It’s true. That works perfectly fine..

    Most people use commercial products to prevent mosquitoes and other defenses for their safety due to mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue, Malaria, Yellow Fever, LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC), West Nile Virus (WNV) etc,.

    But, several people love to do Natural Mosquito Repellent by planting herbs plants around or inside the house..

    Thanks for sharing. ;)

    Jaime Scott PhD
    Health and Wellness Advisor

Leave a Reply