How to Make Natural Insect Repellent

Three Methods:Using Essential OilsUsing Household Products and SpicesUsing Unorthodox Repellents

Insects can be a pest and even a danger to your health and life. In some parts of the world, insects carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain fever, Lyme disease and malaria. If you're allergic to insects, there are many risks from being stung, including respiratory failure and major itching. Since using some commercial insect repellents presents enough concern that government-level health risks have been posited, finding a natural solution is often desired.[1][2] With planning and forethought you can find avoid the potential risks of commercial products and create your own of insects repellent.

Method 1
Using Essential Oils

  1. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 1
    Use oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). Known by the “fever tree” and “blue gum tree” pseudonyms, the eucalyptus tree is primarily exported from Australia, and its oil serves not only as an insect repellent, but also a natural insecticide.[3]
    • While OLE is not recommended by the CDC because it lacks the extensive testing required for commercial repellents and synthesized materials, the efficacy of OLE as a mosquito and deer tick repellent is widely recognized.[4][5]
    • One example of an OLE-based insect repellent is to mix 2 tablespoons of witch hazel (relives skin irritation), 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil like almond or olive, a half teaspoon of vodka, and 100 drops of OLE. Shake it in a spray bottle, apply it to the skin, and reapply every few hours.[6][7]
    • A simpler approach would be to just blend 1 part OLE with 10 parts witch hazel (sunflower oil as a substitute) and apply it directly to the skin.[8]
  2. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 2
    Sample some citronella oil. The oil from citronella comes from a grass indigenous to some Asian countries, and is extracted via steam distillation. Aside from various benefits like being an antibacterial and antiseptic, the insect repellent properties work on mosquitoes that carry Yellow Fever, lice, and fleas.[9]
    • Citronella oil may evaporate quickly, requiring frequent reapplication. [10]
    • Apply minimal amounts of pure citronella oil to your forearms for up to two hours of protection.
  3. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 3
    Patchouli oil can be used in the same manner for similar results.
    • Mix citronella oil with some vanillin then moderately apply it on your skin to get brief protection.[11]
  4. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 4
    Make lavender insect repellent. Lavender oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant via steam distillation, and has been known as a soothing fragrance for quite some time. Whether applied directly or as part of a formula you've concocted at home, it can also be used as an insect repellent.[12]
    • A liquid soap can be created by adding 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil to some Castile soap, a plant oil-based soap made without animal fats.[13]
    • You may also dilute it into a carrier oil like olive oil, or put it in some apple cider vinegar.[14]
    • Create a potent mix by using 10-25 drops of lavender oil with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the contents until blended and dab on your skin when applicable.[15]
    • Try a heavier lavender based option by using 25 drops of the essential oil and a quarter cup apple cider vinegar. Mix together well and apply as necessary.
    • Combine 15 drops of lavender oil, a few tablespoons of vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and some distilled water. Shake up the combo and spray it on exposed skin.[16]
  5. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 5
    Choose clove oil. In some tests, the use of undiluted clove oil repelled three species of mosquitoes for up to four hours, which outperformed diluted oils by up to two hours, and similar undiluted oils like citronella and patchouli, against three species of mosquitoes.[17] Clove plants can also be placed around the yard to repel insects before they even get to you.[18]
    • Mixing equal parts clove oil with some makaen oil mixture and applying approximately 0.1g for every 3x10 cm of exposed skin has shown a repellency of over 95% efficacy for up to 5 hours.[19]
    • Try 6 drops of clove oil mixed with patchouli, grapefruit, lavender oil, and carrier oil for a easy to use spray.[20]

Method 2
Using Household Products and Spices

  1. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 6
    Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a base for herbs. ACV is an astringent, meaning it constricts body tissues.[21] It serves as a great base for mixing kitchen ingredients that can battle the bugs.
    • Add 32oz of apple cider vinegar to 2 Tbsp each of the following herbs sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme and mint. Shake it each day for two weeks, then strain the herbs and dilute the oil mixture with water.[22] Use sparingly, this is supposed to be a strong one!
  2. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 7
    Mix herbs with distilled water. If the vinegar base is too dense, or has too strong a smell for you, distilled water works well. Boil water with 3-4 Tbsps of any of the following dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, or catnip. Use whichever combo you prefer. Once it’s mixed, let it cool down before straining. Add in a bit of rubbing alcohol and you have a great mix.[23]
  3. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 8
    Combine turmeric with various ingredients to make an effective repellent. The spice comes from the turmeric plant, commonly found in curry. Sometimes it’s used in powders, mustards, and butters for its strong flavor and taste.[24]
    • In lab studies, adding just 5% vanillin to various ingredients, including turmeric, increased ability to repel mosquitoes for up to 8 hours.[25] Try combining the two ingredients, 95% turmeric and 5% vanillin, to replicate the mixture. Or experiment with varying combinations until you gain the greatest effectiveness.
    • Turmeric has been used as an insect repellent in Indian families for generations.[26] Make the repellent by grinding turmeric together with navadhanya grains and water. Once that paste is combined, add some slaked lime, which is essentially limewater, until the color turns red.[27]
    • Use pure turmeric sprinkled where you want to deter pests. The high curcumin content in turmeric hinders the insects’ access to oxygen, and the antimicrobial aspects create an unendurable environment for bedbugs.[28]
    • Mix turmeric powder and neem leaf powder together. Mix with water to form a paste. Smear over uncovered flesh. The neem leaf has shown the ability to not only repel insects near the tree, but also disrupt insect breeding nearby.[29] This natural insect repellent combo will keep insects at bay for an hour or more. Reapply as needed.[30]
  4. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 9
    Use dish washing liquid to make homemade spider repellents. Simply combine 5 drops of dish washing liquid and 5 drops of essential oils – particularly citrus-based oils – to keep the eight-legged pests away.

Method 3
Using Unorthodox Repellents

  1. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 10
    Use beer to keep insects at bay. You can make traps and repellents using beer. Try mixing equal parts flat beer with mouthwash, then add in Epsom salt and dry yeast. Shake vigorously and put it in a spray bottle. Use it as a barrier around locations you want to keep pest-free, and they are likely to cross.
  2. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 11
    Cover every inch of flesh with a thin layer of wet blue clay or mud. [31] This layer solidifies into a thin sheet that will help protect you from being bitten, even if there are cracks where the skin folds.[32] This method was used by Native Americans and works against pests drawn to smell or those that bite.[33] You may still be pestered, but most insects will not be able to bite through this layer.
  3. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 12
    Plaster animal fat on your skin. The Cherokees and Akokisa used bear fat and alligator fat, respectively, as their natural insect repellent.[34] You may need to render the fat prior to usage.[35] Sometimes the fat was combined with pine tar for an especially greasy concoction.[36]
  4. Image titled Make Natural Insect Repellent Step 13
    Find native airborne flame retardant poisons. Black Jack can often be collected around, and in, shrubs to burn as an insect killer and repellent. Ensuring moisture in plant fires produces large amounts of smoke, helping to deter the insects.[37]


  • Cover any open flesh with light clothing. This will protect mainly against swarming insects. The aforementioned natural repellents will work well on exposed skin, but having less skin exposed is definitely helpful.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be a pungent odor to some people. The smell dissipates, but it’s still wise to use it sparingly.
  • Insects are attracted to dark, warm sources of carbon dioxide. By staying dry and under-worked, you can often avoid huge storms of insects.[38]


  • Never experiment with plant repellents of which you are unaware. Many plants have noxious properties.
  • Note that all repellents do not work on all insects.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (35)

Article Info

Categories: Home Remedies | Stings Bites and Burns