Get mosquitoes to bug off – naturally

With all the talk about the Zika virus this year, on top of the threat of West Nile, mosquitoes are more unwelcome than ever. While sprays with DEET work wonders, there’s always a concern that the chemicals could be doing as much 772px-Culex_pipiens_diagram_en.svg harm as the biting bugs.

We found a recipe on for an all-natural bug spray you can make at home that’s said to be quite effective. Trouble is, the essential oils in it may not be safe for children under 3. 


  • 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: witch hazel or vodka 
  • 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds) 
  • ½ teaspoon vodka as preservative (if not already using)
  • 100-110 drops essential oils
  • 55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
  • 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil (if using, choose Lavandula angustifolia– “Lavender (40-42) essential oil” does not have the same insecticidal qualities)
  • 15 drops rosemary essential oil


Add carrier liquids to small spray bottle (3 or 4 oz. works well so there is room for shaking). Add essential oils. Shake well before each use. Natural bug repellent will need to be reapplied every few hours for maximum effectiveness.

 We found another recipe over at  that doesn’t rely on essential oils — just herbs you can grow at home:


  • Distilled water
  • Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
  • Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.


  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.
  2. Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)
  3. Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool).
  4. Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin.

TIP: If you have the time and want to make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.

Of course, one of the best ways to keep mosquitoes at bay around the house is to ensure there’s no standing water (for instance, an open rain barrel, bird bath or puddle). You can also add a number of plants to your landscape that mosquitoes and other bugs tend to avoid, including catnip, basil, lemon balm, marigolds (which contain pyrethrum, an ingredient in many bug sprays), citronella, garlic and lavender.

If you’re sitting on the porch, you can always bring a fan along — those moving air currents will make it harder for bugs to hone in on you.

Good luck!