Monday, May 13, 2013

Making Natural Bug Spray

You can make your own bug sprays with herbs, vinegar and soap.

Mint plant
Make natural insect repellent with dried mint and other herbs.

Spring and summer are wonderful seasons — except for all the mosquitoes and other biting insects. Don't let bugs take the pleasure out of warm seasons. Many commercial bug sprays contain harmful chemicals like DEET. When shopping for bug sprays, look for natural products with words like non-toxic, non-chemical, herbal, or hypoallergenic.

Better yet, you can make your own bug spray. Here some recipes to get you started.

Bug Repellent Soap

Start with liquid Castile soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s soaps) and add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of soap. Try essential oils like lemon balm (citronella), lavender, clove, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, cedar or rose geranium. Use the soap before and after spending time outdoors.

Four Thieves Insect Repellent

This recipe was supposedly used by thieves during the black plague of the 14th century.

Ingredients: 32-ounce bottle of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons each of dried herbs (sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and mint), glass jar with airtight lid.


  1. Put the vinegar and herbs into a large glass jar
  2. Seal tightly and store on counter or in a place you will see it daily. Shake well each day for two to three weeks.
  3. After two to three weeks, strain out the herbs and store in refrigerated spray bottles or tincture bottles.
  4. To use on skin, dilute by half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed.

Warning: This solutions is rather stinky while wet. The smell will dissipate as it dries.

Insect Repellent - Alternate Recipe

Ingredients: 10 to 25 drops of essential oil (such as lavender, eucalyptus, rose geranium (for ticks), peppermint, cedar, coriander, clover, and lemon balm), 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (optional).

Directions: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to blend. Dab some on your skin or clothes.

With these recipes or the use of commercially available natural bug sprays you should be able to enjoy the outdoors bug-free!

— By Emily Palmer, ND, LMP, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

FALL 2015
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