DIY Bug Spray – Healthy Alternatives to Deet and Other Harmful Chemicals
Mosquito season is upon us again, which reminds me about protection. Aside from the itchy reaction to bites, mosquito-born diseases such as West Nile, Zika, dengue and malaria are a bit of a concern. Not to be an alarmist, but having some repellent on hand is a really good idea.
If you are a fan of essential oils, you’ll be happy to know that making your own healthy mosquito repellent is easy, using only a couple of ingredients. Commercial products use toxic materials such as DEET, which are known human hazards, especially when used with frequency.
You can make homemade repellent out of oil and ordinary household ingredients, and there are a surprisingly large number of oil options to choose from. Strangely enough, many herbs are known to repel bugs including basil, marjoram, sage and thyme. Lemon eucalyptus (derived from eucalyptus leaves) and citronella are also really effective, as are tea tree, peppermint and clove oils.
You can choose to spray it or mix it traditionally with a carrier oil and rub it onto the skin. For spray, combine witch hazel, red vinegar cider, and a bit of rubbing alcohol for the base. First mix the oil drops into the alcohol and then add the other ingredients to a spray bottle. Be sure to shake well before using.
For the oil mixture, just add your essential oil drops to the carrier and mix well in a bottle or roll-on. Feel free to be creative and mix from the list below, or use single oils. Obviously, some are more pleasing to the nose than others. The herbal ones, while effective against mosquitoes, may have an unpleasant, slightly ammonia-like smell, whereas the lavender is pleasant. Eucalyptus and tea tree are both a bit astringent.
Refer to the lists below for ratios and be sure to check on the child dose ratio, as children require more diluted mixes for safe usage (.5%, as compared to 1 or 2% for adults).
ESSENTIAL OILS for MOSQUITO REPELLENT
Adult Ratio: 40 drops oil, 1/2 cup witch hazel, teaspoon of alcohol, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.
Child Ratio: Reduce about by 1/4, or check for online recommendations.
Essential oil of choice
Teaspoon of alcohol
1/2 cup witch hazel
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or water
Mix 18 drops of essential oil with 30 ml. of carrier oil like almond or coconut (a heavier oil like almond will stay on your skin longer). This makes a 2 % dilution, which is fairly strong.
Essential oil of your choice
Carrier oil (almond, coconut, jojoba or other)
30-ml. (1-ounce) bottle
Warning, for children you must use less oil in both DIY bug spray formulas. A .5% dilution is recommended for children, which would be more like 4 drops of essential oil to 30 ml. of carrier oil. There are other considerations with children, including possible sensitivity to some oils, so be sure to check an online source for proper/reduced doses for kids.