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Easy DIY Homemade Bug Spray


This easy homemade bug spray has worked really well for my family over the years. All you need are a few ingredients, and you probably already have some of them on hand. Equipment

  • 4 ounce glass spray bottle

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp Everclear or other high proof alcohol (151 or 190 proof)

  • 2 tbsp fractionated coconut oil

  • 60-70 drops essential oil (see notes section for suggested combinations)

Instructions To Make

  • Start by adding the Everclear and essential oils to your glass spray bottle (or bottle made with PET plastic). Put the nozzle on and give the bottle a shake, then allow the mixture to sit for one hour so that the essential oils can fully solubilize (disperse).

  • Next, add the distilled water or fractionated coconut oil and shake to combine.

To Use

  • Shake well, then spray onto your body/clothing. Don't spray directly on the face and neck – instead, spray some liquid into your palm and apply with your fingertips. Reapply as often as needed. If you're using the formula with fractionated coconut oil, be aware that it may stain clothing.

Special Notes for Kids Under Two

  • Even when using child-friendly oils, I recommend avoiding topical application for children under two. Instead, when my babies were over six months old but under two, I sprayed their clothes rather than their skin. For babies under six months old, netting, fans and clothing should be used to keep bugs off baby's skin.

Notes Here are some essential oil combinations to consider:

Pre-Made Blends 60-70 drops total of Shield Me (which was specially formulated for children ages 2-10, but also good for adults) or Nature Shield

Citronella Blend

  • 25 drops citronella essential oil (can substitute lemon eucalyptus if desired)

  • 20 drops cedarwood atlantica essential oil

  • 20 drops geranium essential oil

  • Optional addition – 5 drops catnip essential oil

Patchouli Blend

  • 25 drops patchouli essential oil

  • 20 drops cedarwood atlantica essential oil

  • 20 drops geranium essential oil

  • Optional addition – 5 drops tea tree or vetiver essential oil

Shelf Life: If you included water in your formula, use within a few weeks. If you included fractionated coconut oil in your formula, use within a few months.


What To Buy If You Don’t Want To Make Your Own

DEET-free Wondercide Bug Repellent is the best option I’ve found. I personally would opt for the cedar formula (or lemongrass for kids over two) instead of the ones with peppermint or rosemary oil. Although many kids won’t have a reaction to peppermint or eucalyptus, for some it can cause breathing issues so I don’t use it with kids under six.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the most common questions I’ve received since first posting about DIY bug spray years ago.


Are these recipes safe for kids?

YES. Although there are other essential oils that are helpful for repelling insects, I decided to keep things simple and only include options that are considered safe for the whole family.

Special Note Regarding Kids Under Two: Even when using child-friendly oils, I recommend avoiding topical application for children under two. Instead, when my babies were over six months old but under two, I sprayed their clothes rather than their skin. For babies under six months old, netting, fans and clothing should be used to keep bugs off baby’s skin.


What about pregnant and nursing moms?

Yes, these recipes are safe to use during pregnancy and nursing. However, many experts urge women to be cautious about application during the first trimester. If it were me, I’d probably opt to just spray my clothes during that period.

Special note on dilution ratios: For general use, a topical dilution of 1% is usually recommended during pregnancy – the typical dilution suggested for adults is 2.5%. However, there are instances when a higher dilution ratio is considered appropriate, such as to repel bugs.

The recipes above are just under 3%. If I were pregnant/nursing and using these everyday I would probably either dilute them more or just spray them on my clothes. However, if I was just using them occasionally I would go with the recipe as it is.


Can I use witch hazel, apple cider vinegar or regular vodka instead of Everclear?

While you’ll find a lot of DIY recipes that use these ingredients, experts in the fields of essential oil formulation have recently published information which states that they are not effective at evenly dispersing essential oils and should not be used. For more information, check out this article: Effective Use of Alcohol for Aromatic Blending.




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