Natural Bug Repellent

Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils – A Safer Alternative

Nothing takes the fun and enjoyment right out of summertime activities like biting and stinging insects. Whether enjoying backyard activities with the kids, barbecues with friends, hanging out at the lake, or venturing into the wild to go hiking or camping, summer usually means spending a lot of time outdoors. Unfortunately, the outdoors brings with it a plethora of pesky, irritating insects. Thankfully, we have some information that could help save you and your family from unwanted insect interference… You can use essential oils to make your own natural bug repellent!

Repelling Summer’s Unwelcome Visitors

Insects are a fact of life pretty much anywhere you are in the world. Fortunately, there are numerous products on the market to help keep those pesky bugs away. However, the vast majority of bug sprays are filled with chemicals that can be harmful and toxic to humans (and animals!). We certainly don’t feel comfortable with spraying toxic chemicals all over our bodies and clothing, not to mention inhaling them. We’re sure you don’t either. But with insect-borne illnesses becoming more and more frequent and widespread, you can’t afford to do nothing to protect yourself and your family against the irritating little insects that spread them. (We’re looking at you, mosquitoes and ticks!)

So, what other options are there for effectively repelling insects? The answer to defeating nature’s little creepy-crawlies lies in nature, itself.

Nature Has the Answer

Plants have their own natural defenses to protect themselves from harmful invaders. This includes fungus, bacteria, and insects. The naturally occurring oils inside the plant (contained in leaves, stems, bark, wood, flowers, etc.) have some pretty powerful, amazing properties that we humans can take advantage of in countless ways. Nature truly is amazing, isn’t it?

As long as they are used safely and applied properly, essential oils can have a myriad of benefits for repelling insects. In fact, many of them are just as effective as the chemical-filled products that many people turn to!

There are several ways you can use essential oils to help repel insects:

  • Repellent Spray – for clothing and/or skin
  • Diffuser – to repel insects in an entire room or space
  • Candles – make your own DIY, insect-repelling beeswax candles
  • Lotion – for diluted skin-safe application

Of course, these are just a few examples. Get creative and see what you come up with for ways to help defend your summer fun from insects that want to rain on your parade. (We’ve included a few recipes at the end of this blog to help get you started!)

Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils

Now that you have a few ideas on how you can use a natural bug repellent with essential oils to repel insects, you need to know which oils to use and for what. Here are some of our favorite oils for repelling insects:

Essential Oil Ants Bees Chiggers Dust Mites Fleas Flies Gnats Lice Mosquitos Spiders Ticks
Basil X X
Catnip X X X X
Cedarwood X X X X X X X X X X
Citronella X X X X X X X X
Clove X X
Eucalyptus X X X X
Geranium X X X X X X
Lavender X X X X X X X X
Lemongrass X X X X X
Patchouli X X X
Peppermint X X X X X X X X
Pine X X
Rose Geranium X X
Tea Tree X X X X X
Thyme X X X X X
Vetiver X

Don’t forget about hydrosols! They make an excellent alternative to essential oils as they are gentler to use directly on the skin without the need for dilution. Try mixing a couple of hydrosols from the list above in a plastic (PET) bottle with an atomizer for a quick repellent spray you can take anywhere with you! You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the hydrosol to give it even more punch, but since hydrosols are water instead of oil, the drops of essential oils won’t mix with the water. You will have to shake well before each use. Alternatively, we recommend using our Solubol dispersant, which helps the oils dissolve into the water hydrosol. Check out the Solubol dispersant’s product page for recommended dilution ratios.

Natural Bug Bite Relief

Sometimes, no matter how good your natural bug repellent is, you still end up getting bitten or stung. Did you know that there are lots of essential oils (and hydrosols!) that can help relieve hot, itchy, and painful bites and stings? Many essential oils contain wonderful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and cooling properties. This makes them perfect for relieving even the most irritating bites and stings.

Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils Bug Bite Relief

Essential Oils can Help Provide Natural Relief After a Bug Bite has Occurred

Here are some of our favorite essential oils to use for soothing bites and stings:

Add any of these oils to a carrier oil of your choice such as aloe vera gel, coconut oil, jojoba oil, marula oil, or unscented lotion. Combine several essential oils for even more effect. Try adding your blend to a roller bottle for a perfect, portable applicator that can go anywhere with you!

Essential Oil Safety Considerations

When using essential oils, it is important to know which oils you can use on the skin without issue and which ones may irritate the skin. Additional things to look for are dilution recommendations, potential phototoxicity, medication contraindications, etc. For example, oils that are considered phototoxic should not be applied to skin exposed to sunlight unless highly diluted. Also, some essential oils might cause skin irritation or sensitization, so it is recommended to use them in low dilutions. Use caution when using essential oils on children. Some oils should not be used on children at all, while others are safe to use in low dilutions. Every oil is different, so it is good practice to familiarize yourself with the oils you would like to use. Check out the ‘Safety & Shelf Life’ section we’ve included on each of our oils’ product pages to find out specifics for each one.

Research has shown that for some of these oils to be truly effective against bugs they need to be used at a higher dilution. In this case, it is best to spray those blends on clothing, a bandana, hat, or another item rather than directly on your skin. (Although, some essential oils can leave oily spots or stain clothing, so use judiciously!) Be sure to check to see if the oils you are using are skin irritating or not to determine proper dilution strength if you are looking for something to put directly on your skin.

Protecting Your Pets

Got a canine fur-baby that you want to protect from bugs, too? Some of these oils can be used on dogs. But it is of utmost importance to make sure any oils you use around or on your dogs (or any pet in general) are not toxic to them. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, animal poisonings from essential oils are on the rise. Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information online regarding some of the oils that are okay and those that are not. It is always a good idea to consult a trusted veterinarian or certified aromatherapist if you’re unsure.

Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils Pet Safety

Essential Oils can Act as a Natural Bug Repellent for Your Pets too!

As with all things, moderation is key, and with our beloved pets, less is definitely best. Use in low dilutions only, as animals are far more sensitive to essential oils than humans. This includes inhalation. Their sense of smell is far stronger than ours!

Here are some essential oils that have been used with dogs to help repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks:

Avoid the following oils, as they may be harmful to dogs:

NOTE: Do not use essential oils on dogs younger than 10 weeks old.

Always use essential oils with caution, as some dogs can react differently to certain oils than others. Observe your dog’s behavior to ensure they don’t have any adverse reactions. Hydrosols are always a great, gentler alternative, as well. Let your dog choose the oils by smelling them, first. If they pull away and react like they do not like the smell, do not use that oil. Also, some recommend using the oils in a space instead of on the animal, that way the animals have the ability to get away from the essential oils in case they are bothering them. Making a natural bug repellent diffuser blend and/or homemade citronella candles might be the best option, in that case!

NOTE: The essential oils mentioned above are for dogs only. Other pets, such as cats, have many different sensitivities. Many oils can be toxic to cats! A few of those feline toxic oils include:

However, we all know cats LOVE catnip! Catnip hydrosol is safe for kitties and may help keep mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks away. Of course, always use in moderation and with caution.

Natural Bug Repellent Recipes

Hopefully, the info in this blog can help you save your summer activities from being thwarted by those aggravating insects. Below are a couple of recipes to help get you started, but don’t hesitate to try your own blends. If you do, let us know what they are!

1. Eucalyptus Bug Spray

Natural Bug Repellent Eucalyptus Bug Spray


Directions: Add the essential oils to a PET plastic spray bottle filled with peppermint hydrosol. (Catnip hydrosol can be an excellent substitute for peppermint if you want.) Can spray on clothes. SHAKE WELL before spraying, as the oils will separate from the water. (Alternately, you can add Solubol dispersant to the mixture to help the oils dissolve into the water if you’d prefer.) Enjoy the relief your natural bug repellent provides!


2. Backcountry Bug Repellent

Natural Bug Repellent Backcountry Bug RepellentIngredients:

Directions: Combine the essential oils with the peppermint and catnip hydrosols in a PET plastic spray bottle. Add the Solubol (dispersant) and shake gently to blend. Use throughout the day as needed. Spray often!


Natural Bug Bite Relief Recipe

3. Stop the Itch

Natural Bug Repellent Stop the Itch


Directions: Add the essential oils to the lavender hydrosol. SHAKE WELL before spraying, as the oils will not dissolve into the hydrosol. Alternately, you can add Solubol dispersant to the mixture to help dissolve the oils OR, you can substitute a carrier oil of your choice for the lavender hydrosol. If you do that, you may need a different PET container depending on the viscosity of your chosen carrier.