Nobody likes getting bug bites, so it is tempting to spray insect repellent generously to protect our kids, who often seem the most susceptible to bites. (I always tell them it’s because they’re the sweetest, but this doesn’t take away the itch!) However, many of the conventional bug repellents contain chemicals that are harmful for your family, and the environment.
Using an all-natural alternative gets rid of the risk of side effects from using hazardous chemicals. Here is a recipe using essential oils that is quick to make and inexpensive. And you can swap out different oils depending on the type of bugs you want to repel and which odors you prefer. Not only will these oils repel pesky insects without the use of harmful chemicals, they smell good too!
Since essential oils are unregulated, it is important to note that all oils are not created equal. Many essential oils, even ones you buy at the health food store, can be mixed with added fillers, synthetic ingredients, or harmful contaminants. Take some time to research and find companies that are doing their own independent testing, and look for labels that clearly state the ingredients. They should be 100% pure liquid extracts from plants with no additional processing, preservatives, or additives.
I like doTERRA oils, not only because they meet the standards I list above, but the company is also committed to environmental sustainability.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 4 ounce dark glass spray bottle (dark so sun won’t diminish the effectiveness of the contents)
- Distilled or boiled water
- Witch hazel
- Essential oils (see chart below for suggested oils for particular pests)
Add the essential oils of your choice directly into the bottle for a total of 20-50 drops. Then add half witch hazel and half water to the bottle, close and shake well. Apply as often as you need it, being sure to shake it every time since oil and water don’t mix. Store tightly closed in a cool, dark place.
The ratio of oil will depend somewhat on who is using it. For children (3+), I use about 20-25 drops in a 4-ounce bottle; for adults I use 30-50. While using less essential oil will still be effective against bugs, you will need to apply it more frequently. For smaller kids, I also prefer to spray their clothes to be sure it won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Here's a partial list of oils that work particularly well to repel certain types of bugs:
Mosquitoes: Lavender, Geranium, Lemongrass, Lemon Eucalyptus, Citronella
Flies and gnats: Lavender, Patchouli, Rosemary, Peppermint, Spearmint
Ticks*: Lavender, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Cedarwood
*Note that no bug spray can guarantee keeping ticks away, and therefore it is still important to check your body after being outside and remove ticks promptly and properly.
Here are some great bug spray blend options for kids:
- 10 drops lavender, 10 drops citronella
- 10 drops lavender, 10 drops geranium
- 10 drops lavender, 10 drops spearmint
- 8 drops spearmint, 5 drops lavender, 5 drops geranium, 2 drops patchouli
- 10 drops citronella + 5 drops patchouli + 5 drops lavender
Be sure to play around to find what works best for you and what scents you like.