DIY Aromatherapy Bug Repellent

I don’t like using products with DEET or other pesticides as a bug repellent, because of health concerns.

It is easy and inexpensive to make your own natural insect repellents, because there are some essential oils that are effective bug repellents.

Citronella grass

Citronella grass

Citronella is the most popular in its research to ward off mosquitoes, but other essential oils are just as good, if not better.

Citronella will work for over half an hour, but needs to be applied often. I dislike the smell of citronella, because of the overuse in products like candles, so it is not overpowering in my blends.

Other essential oils like eucalyptus give over an hour and a half of protection, but needs to be applied often depending on conditions.

Neem carrier oil doesn’t deter bugs like essential oils eucalyptus and geranium, but it is a toxin and once ingested it will confuse bugs, making them fly away and even forget to reproduce and eat. This oil is strong, patch test first and I always use it diluted up to 20% in a formula. Buy neem oil specifically for body use.

Essential oils for Bug Repellent:

Citronella, Lemongrass, Lemon eucalyptus, Eucalyptus all varieties.

All varieties of geranium, lavender, mints,

Use rosemary, tea tree, cinnamon, clove and citronella, Melaleuca sparingly in the blend.

All varieties of basil also help to repel flies.

*Citronella and Lemongrass have the same Latin Genus- Cymbopogon, which is a grass family with several lemon smelling species that are all used in similar ways, so go by the Latin name to be sure what you are getting. Citronella has reddish stems, while Lemongrass has greenish pseudo stems, which is good to know for cooking and other uses.

There is a variety of mediums to mix the essential oils in depending on what you want. I use a carrier oil and put it directly on my skin. Also I use a witch hazel water spray to spray on clothing and other surroundings. Essential oils do not mix well in water so add another medium like vodka, witch hazel, vinegar or use carrier oil.


Use 40% witch hazel or ethyl alcohol or vodka 40 ml

Mix in 60% distilled water 60 ml

For every 100 ml use 50 drops of your choice of essential oil

This is a 3% dilution.

Put in sprayer bottle and spray on area


For every 100 ml of carrier oil of your choice

mix 50 drops of your choices of essential oils

Carrier oils: neem oil, peach kernel, apricot oil, jojoba, raw sesame, olive oil, your choice

Castor oil is very thick and needs another carrier oil to thin it, but provides a skin like protection barrier. Mosquitoes also don’t seem to bite when the skin is wet.

Put oil directly on exposed skin.

Wild catnip

Wild catnip


Use either fresh or dried herbs stewed in a mix of water / vinegar or water / alcohol. This is particularly good for stinky smelling herbs like catnip, which is too smelly to use as an essential oil, but is really effective at getting rid of bugs, and everyone else for that matter! I would only use it going into the deep brush at bug time. Use with the other recipe.

Always use protective clothing and/or bug screen jackets and try to protect yourself as much as possible.


If you do get bitten put a mix of baking soda or vinegar and mix it with lavender, peppermint or tea tree essential oil as an antiseptic and to help bring down inflammation and swelling. Mixing the oils with witch hazel or adding it too helps. Find a recipe here ->

Caution is advised when using essential oils with children and pregnant and nursing women.



Here is to make an easy, natural, inexpensive mosquito trap and put it far away from your seating areas.


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