This Easy DIY Bug Spray is Affordable, Refreshing on Skin, & It Actually Works!

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hand holding spray bottle with no more bugs sign on front

Buh-bye, bugs! 👋 Hello, essential oil bug spray! 

I’m sure it goes without saying, but many commercial bug repellents contain numerous harmful chemicals which are not just bad for you, but bad for the environment too.

If you’re not buying a bug repellent so good you could eat it, then consider making my affordable essential oil bug spray!

It’s easy to make, totally moisturizing, refreshing on your skin when it’s hot outside, safe for your skin and the environment, & most importantly… it really works!


What’s wrong with commercial bug sprays? 🤔

store aisle of off bug sprays

Aside from all the toxic chemicals flying under the radar in many store-bought bug sprays, cosmetics, lotions, etc., for me, DEET is my #1 concern when it comes to any bug repellant. About one-third of the US population uses DEET every year! 😱

While the topic of DEET remains controversial, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) last stated in 2014 they still stand by there not being any health concerns with using DEET. However, it’s hard not to remain skeptical with the lengthy list of warnings they put on each label containing DEET. 😒

That’s not to mention the other harmful chemicals that accompany it. Plus, they all typically smell awful, feel greasy, and probably aren’t suitable for sensitive skin.

Here are just some of the EPA listed warnings for DEET I find really concerning:

  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
  • Do not use under clothing.
  • Avoid over-application of this product.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
  • The use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases. 

Safe? Nah… this is one time in my life where moderation isn’t key and I’ll stick to my much more natural approach. 🙌


It’s important to know what bugs hate in order to make the perfect essential oil bug spray that really WORKS.

close up of mosquito on hairy arm

Mosquitos hate: Citronella, Lavender, Peppermint, Clove, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Basil, Catnip

Black flies hate: Mint (specifically Peppermint), Basil

Ticks hate: Lemon, Orange, Citrus, Cinnamon, Lavender, Peppermint, Rose Geranium

woman holding glass bottle with essential oils outside

All that said, I’ve developed a recipe just for you that will not just get rid of all those pesky bugs, but moisturize your skin without being greasy. Better yet, you’ll smell so good too!

Plus, it’s incredibly easy to whip up, take with you on the go, and spray on quickly before heading out the door. 🙌

Before we get started, there are some important factors to keep in mind when making the best DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray:

hand holding four mini bottles of anjou essential oils outside

You need the right essential oils.

I was stoked when I found the Anjou Essential Oils kit on Amazon – they’re all completely safe for your skin since they’re 100% pure & organic. Plus, the kit had everything I needed to whip up this bug spray recipe and then some since it included 18 different scents.

The kit is perfect for anyone who plans to make my DIY Bug Spray and plans to diffuse essential oils or make their own cleaning products at home to get the most bang for your buck! Did I mention it’s also super affordable?

anjou essential oils kit on blanket with spray bottle

Anjou Essential Oils Kit – 18 pack $26.99
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Final cost just $14.90 SHIPPED!

That’s just 83¢ per bottle of essential oil! 😱


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Anjou Essential Oils Kit – 6 pack $15.99
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Final cost just $9.99 SHIPPED!

*Note that this set is not marked as organic like the 18-pack listed above.

woman pointing to glass spray bottle standing outside

Using the right carrier oil is crucial to skin safety. 

When using essential oils on the skin, it’s super important to use a carrier oil to properly dilute them in order for them to be skin safe.

You also don’t want to use too much carrier oil as this can leave your skin greasy and messy during application. With this in mind, I developed the perfect blend of distilled water + carrier oil to perfectly complement my essential oil blend.

I used the 1% dilution for my DIY Bug Spray recipe so it’s safe for long-term & everyday use and full-body application.

hand holding a bottle of almond oil over diy bug spray ingredients

For my DIY essential oil bug spray recipe, I used organic, unrefined almond oil which has a light scent, boasts many skin benefits, and is a great moisturizer! It also provides a 12-month shelf life which is likely more than enough time to use up all your bug spray!

If you find yourself needing it to last even longer than that, swap almond oil for jojoba oil which has the longest carrier oil shelf life of 2-3 years. It’s just as moisturizing, light in odor, and offers even more skin benefits. The only downside is that jojoba oil is typically more expensive than most other carrier oils so opt for almond oil if you’re trying to stay frugal.

*Note that it’s recommended to use a 0.25%-0.5% dilution for children under the age of 2. Always consult with a doctor before using any topical product on your skin, especially women who are pregnant, nursing, or if you’re planning to use it on children. 

hands holding glass diy bug spray bottle and anjou essential oils

Lastly, use a glass bottle ONLY.

Essential oils are powerful and can break down plastic over time which can leak toxic chemicals. This not only makes them ineffective but dangerous for your health too. Therefore, storing essential oils in plastic is always a big no-no.

Additionally, UV rays are also very damaging to essential oils. Rapid oxidation alters the chemicals in essential oils, which, over time, breaks down the oils and negates their effectiveness. To minimize this risk, storing your DIY bug spray in a darker-colored bottle (such as amber) is ideal.

Regardless, a glass bottle is your safest option and since I already had a clear bottle and plan to store my bug spray inside in my kitchen cabinet (which is cool and dark), I used what I had on hand.

Now, let’s make some awesome DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray!


DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray

Print

Directions

1

Add 30 drops of Lemongrass essential oil to your spray bottle.

2

Add 30 drops of Peppermint essential oil to your spray bottle.

3

Add 20 drops of Lavender essential oil to your spray bottle.

4

Add 20 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to your spray bottle.

5

Measure 1 cup of distilled or filtered water and pour it into your spray bottle.

6

Measure 1/3 cup of your carrier oil and pour it into your spray bottle.

7

Screw the lid onto your spray bottle and shake well.

8

Shake the bottle before applying the spray to make sure the oils and water are thoroughly mixed. Enjoy your bug-free day!


Notice some separation?

oil and liquid separating in glass bottle

Not to worry, my friend!

You will notice separation over time – even minutes after shaking. This is a normal occurrence since my recipe contains water and oil (a pair that notoriously does not mix) and it’s not anything to worry about. Separation also does not affect the essential oils or the effectiveness of the bug spray.

Simply shake before each use and you’re good to go. 

glass bottle with diy bug spray and no more bug sign on front with essential oils

I truly hope you enjoy this DIY Bug Spray recipe using the wonderful Anjou Essential Oils kit! It’s perfect for the whole family, affordable, so refreshing to spray on a hot day. Best of all, it’s a convenient bug spray that really works! 👏

Happy summer, Hip2Savers! Let’s stay bug & bite-free together! 😊


Use your peppermint essential oil to whip up some cooling lotion next!


Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 5 years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.


Join The Discussion

Comments 22

  1. Materof6

    Would olive oil work as a carrier oil?

    • Sara

      Hey, Materof6 – that’s a great question!

      Yes, olive oil can be used as a carrier oil. However, due to olive oil’s greasy texture and strong scent, I would not recommend it for this bug spray recipe.

      For best results, I would recommend jojoba or almond oil as mentioned in the post. If those don’t work for you, some other lightly-scented options for carrier oil could be apricot kernel, argan, avocado, camellia, coconut oil, evening primrose, grapeseed, hazelnut, hemp seed, macadamia, meadowfoam, rosehip, sesame seed, or sunflower oil. Just make sure before purchasing any of these that they’re organic, unrefined, and safe for your skin. I hope this helps!

  2. LIZ

    Is this ok to spray on clothing as well, or will the oils leave stains?

    • Sara

      I haven’t tested this on clothing. However, I have sprayed it on my skin while clothed and haven’t experienced any issues with staining. I hope this helps, Liz!

  3. HoosierNana

    Is it okay to use the amber colored bottles? I noticed yours is clear. How big a bottle is needed?

  4. HoosierNana

    I just reread the post & saw about the amber bottles, so what size bottle is best?

    • Sara

      Yes, an amber bottle is actually preferred. 🙂 If you’re following the recipe exactly, I would recommend a bottle that will hold at least 1 and 1/3 cups or 10.67 fluid ounces to accommodate the carrier oil and water. A little room to spare for the essential oils would be necessary too. I hope this helps!

  5. ATM

    Could i use coconut oil as a carrier oil instead?

    • Sara

      Yes, coconut oil can be used as a carrier oil. 🙂

      • Jennifer DuPont

        Therapeutic grade essential oils are best for skin. Are these Therapeutic grade?

        • Sara

          Hi Jennifer! Yes, the kit I have linked is 100% Pure & Therapeutic grade. I hope this helps!

  6. Dee

    I see the recipe, but I don’t see how this works? Essential oils evaporate very quickly, so do you apply every 20 minutes? With Zika and Lyme disease out there, I can’t take any chances that this doesn’t work. Any information o how this was tested would be great. Thanks!

    • Sara

      Hey Dee!

      I tend to reapply this as needed once I don’t smell essential oils anymore. For me, it has worked wonderfully with all the mosquitoes we have in our neighborhood. I have not ever had a problem with ticks either, but I do know some areas are experiencing higher volumes this season.

      If you’d still like to try this natural approach to battling bugs but think you need more potency, you can definitely make this recipe stronger by not diluting it as much. However, please consult with your doctor first as high concentrations may not be safe for regular & consistent daily skin applications.

      • Dee

        Appreciate your quick reply! I live in the woods, so ticks are definitely a problem. The only thing that keeps them off is Deet. Always looking for alternatives, though. I was really hoping for a test or study that showed this works. Not willing to send my babies out possibly unprotected. So, you’re not aware of any testing of this product to see if really works? I’m well aware of reactions to essential oils, as I have had breakouts from them. Also headaches from some oils.

        • Falcon

          Hi Dee – I would suggest that you research some of the websites that sell therapeutic grade essential oils. I know of several websites that have certified aromatherapists who post recipes for things like this and also discuss the use of essential oils safely. Several years ago, I searched for a natural fly repellent spray for our horses. I have had good luck with natural formulas but they do require more frequent application than chemical laden products.

          • Sara

            Thanks for sharing your feedback, Falcon! Dee, just to piggyback off what Falcon said, the essential oils I used and linked to throughout the post are 100% Pure and Therapeutic grade if you do decide to go this route. But again, since ticks aren’t a problem where I live I wouldn’t say this has been strongly tested in this area.

  7. Kathleen

    We love the Badger brand, it’s natural and Celiac-safe ❤

    • Sara

      Thanks for sharing, Kathleen!

  8. Julie

    Thank you so much! this was such great information! And what a great deal! Bought mine 🙂

    • Sara

      Awesome, Julie! Enjoy your new essential oils and if you make the bug spray please let me know what you think!

  9. Leslie

    Do you think this would work if the oils were mixed into an unscented cream or lotion instead of made into a spray?

    • Sara

      Hey, Leslie! You can definitely make a bug cream that works, but I have never personally tried it. I use this bug cream and absolutely LOVE it if you’d like to check it out or maybe see what ingredients they use so you can try to mimic it on your own. Let me know what you decide to do and how it turns out if you do make it! 🙂

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