Keep the Bugs Way… Naturally.

Keep the Bugs Way… Naturally.

I was not a huge “outdoors” person growing up. I mean, like most kids, I enjoyed playing outside… but I wasn’t a real advocate of the woods. Mostly because I hated bug spray. Seriously. I remember closing my eyes and lifting my arms as my mom sprayed stuff all over my body. The smell alone disturbed me, even at a young age. Of course no bugs would come near the stuff… but I always wondered if we humans should either. Thankfully, I found that making your own all natural homemade “bugs be gone” spray just isn’t that hard.

Stay away from toxic ingredients

One of the most common used ingredients in commercial bug sprays is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET.

DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.

DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River. (source)

Yikes! Let’s avoid that, okay?

Try out this all natural version instead. And let the outdoor fun commence!


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Naenae

    How many eo do I need to use to be effective and are any of them not good to mix together?

    1. Post author

      You should be fine mixing any of the listed ones. I’m not sure the best number of different oils, or if that really matters. I like to mix about three or four different ones to bring different thing to the table and get a smell that I enjoy.

  2. giggi

    nice idea, but be carefull with phototoxic ess. oils (lemon, bergamot etc.) – they can cause hiperpigmentation marks and rash when used before going out in the sun.

    1. Andriana

      You can actually get bergaptene-free bergamot, which isn’t photo toxic. Sweet orange, tangelo, and tangerine are some citrus oils that aren’t photo toxic. Citrus oils that contain enough furanoid compounds are the ones that are photo toxic.

  3. Sue

    Would this be good for spraying around the house to keep spiders and silverfish away? What essential oils would work best? Thank you.

    1. Post author

      It might work. I haven’t tried it for that as we (thankfully) don’t have a spider or silverfish problem. You can also do a quick good search for “essential oils for spiders” and find the most recommended essential oil for that particular pest. :)

    2. S

      you can put cedarwood on cotton wool balls or any other material that can absorb it, and put them in and around cupboards – keeps bugs, moths, etc away. you can also try lavender oil and also bay laurel (or the leaves if you can find them) – they keep all kinds of things, including roaches, away as well.

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  5. Jim

    Is the Witch Hazel essential? I’ve got olive oil, eucalyptus and I think some citronella on hand and I could use something right away as the bugs are getting pretty bad. I would have to order and wait for the other stuff.

    1. Post author

      You should be able to find witch hazel at most grocery stores (by where rubbing alcohol would be). It’s really the base of the recipe so I’m not sure I’d recommend omitting it as the essential oils along can be quite concentrated.

  6. Crystal Larrison

    Could you use just lemon EO and Eucalyptus EO or do you have to specifically use Lemon Eucalyptus?

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  8. iamloved1

    You cannot get the same insect repellent properties from lemon oil and eucalyptus oil. The USDA tested lemon eucalytpus (p-menthane 3,8-diol or PMD) and found it was as effective as low concentrations of DEET. Lemon and eucalyptus do not contain p-menthane. You can buy a fantastic blend containing lemon eucalyptus and catnip oil at God’s Country

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