20+ Homemade Insect Repellent Recipes

homemade insect repellent recipes


It’s a fact of life on a homestead.

And poop brings flies. Lots of ’em.

Back in the days before I got all crunchy, I used to use loads of chemical fly sprays on my horses… And even though I hadn’t fully “awakened” to the world of chemical-free living at that point, I remember it would still bother me when I could taste the fly spray in my mouth after dousing the horses…

I’ve seen questions about homemade insect repellent all over Facebook lately, so I decided it was high-time to do a round-up of all the spectacular, all-natural bug sprays I’ve come across while blog-surfing.

Any of these ideas should work just fine for your homestead critters too, minus the cats. (Cats and essential oils generally don’t mix…) I regularly mix up natural sprays for my milk cow, horses, and goats, and they really seem appreciate it.

I’ve noticed that different bugs respond differently to homemade insect repellent recipes, so if you find that one isn’t working for you, give another one a try. But, with the treasure-trove of ideas below, you should be able to find something that will work where you live!

Click Here for Jill’s Free Printable DIY Bug Spray Cheat Sheet!

20+ Natural Insect Repellent Recipes

For Mosquitos:

1. DIY Mosquito Repellent from Lexie’s Kitchen

2. Five Homemade Mosquito Repellent Recipes from Survival at Home

3. 15+ Tips & Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes from Accidentally Green (I’m especially interested in trying the basil vodka spray.)

All-Purpose Homemade Insect Repellents:

4. Natural Insect Repellent for Camping from Green Boot Living.

5. Bug-Be-Gone Balm from Smithspirations

6. Homemade Insect Repellent Spray from DIY Natural

7. DIY Bug Repellent Oil from Growing Up Herbal

8. All Natural Homemade Insect Repellent from Thank Your Body

9. Indoor/Outdoor All-Around Bug Spray from Your Thriving Family

homemade insect repellent

10. DIY Marigold Insect Spray from Deep Roots at Home

11. Healthy Bug Spray (That Really Works!) from Scratch Mommy

12. Dried Lavender Insect Repellent from WikiHow

13. Beeswax Insect Repellent Candles from Design Sponge (how cool are these?!)

14. 13 Tips for Keeping the Bugs Away Naturally  from Day2Day Joys

15. Bug Bit Relief Stick from The Prairie Homestead

Garden & Barnyard Pest Control

16. Strategies for Fly Control in the Chicken Coop from The Prairie Homestead

17. DIY Liquid Fence from The Prairie Homestead

18. Homemade Fly Spray Recipe for Livestock from The Prairie Homestead

19. Garden Pest Control Spray from Weed Em and Reap

20. Three-Ingredient Pest Deterrent (especially for mice and spiders) from Scratch Mommy

21. Organic Bug Spray Recipe for the Garden from The Elliott Homestead  

Click Here for Jill’s Free Printable DIY Bug Spray Cheat Sheet!

diy natural insect repellent

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  1. says

    Thanks for this list! Will visit each site for sure :-) Mosquitoes seem to come from miles around to bite me, something in the blood? I use a dab of arnica oil on a bite right away and seems to keep it from becoming a swollen and scratchy. In my younger days living in the country, the horses were washed with a brew steeped with rosemary to keep the flies away. That was long before I knew about essential oils and their effectiveness.

  2. nicole says

    great variety of recipes !!! thank you. I have been experimenting around with mixing our own big spray … the bugs are especially bad here this year. I will give all those recipes a closer look and try some of them out for sure !!! ~nik~

  3. Jaci says

    Thoughts on which one might be best for Mosquitos? I’m in coastal easy Texas and literally can’t let my kids outside to play some days b/c they might get carried off by Mosquitos!!! I’ve read I can put rosemary & thyme and such in the nest boxes for my gals and myself but which could I spray on the whole yard!? Almost an acre!

  4. says

    Have you ever tried a side by side comparison of commercial bug spray versus your recipes. I think it would be interested to one evening use one or the other then try to compare the number of bites.

    • says

      I’ve thought of trying to do tests, and I might in the future– but I think it would be hard to get accurate results. One night might have more mosquitos, etc. But, it would be fun to try!

    • Steve says

      The best all natural bug spray out there by far is made by a company called Mission Essentials (www.mission-essentials.com) – it’s called Fight Back 2…it smells great, works fabulous and has no alcohol so it feels good.

  5. Susan H says

    I wish there was something that would scare the spiders off!! EEEK! You should have seen the one I found right next to my bed the other day. It was huge! Make your thumb and first finger meet to make a circle…..that’s how big it was! I sprinkled Borax under my bed, but boy do I wish there was something that would keep them out of my house!! :)

  6. says

    I’m sorry to be the boring one, but do you know if there are any clinical studies that prove that any of these work? Or any other studies? Any theories behind why they work?

    Also, “chemical-free” living? Umm, you do know water is a chemical right? Just as oxygen. Are there no better words for what you mean? Because that type of living seems nice, but chemical-free is just not the right word for it.

    • says

      There are numerous studies on http://www.pubmed.gov regarding essential oils and insects. I know they work because when I spray them on my milk cow, the flies don’t land on her. That’s enough proof for me. And I know enough about the commercial pesticide alternatives to know I don’t want them on myself or my animals, as evidenced in this article- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14713564

      My readers know that when I use the term “chemical-free living” I am referring to refraining from the use of things like DEET, Roundup, or other insecticides/herbicides. I also use the term natural living frequently, but sometimes I like to mix it up.

  7. says

    I have a prayer request regarding mosquitoes, if any of you would be inclined to pray for this! :) I would like to pray that whole towns and cities become aware of the problem of mosquito fogging and that they would consider natural methods like these. I do not know how effective “overall” these methods are, but the current use of pesticides fogging over entire cities makes life really hard for those like me who have Toxic Injury/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. My TI/MCS is so bad that I cannot go into fogged cities for days after fogging without getting bad symptoms. Also, it appears that pesticides like these are killing off the honeybee population–not good. Would love prayers for all of this!!!

  8. Éowyn says

    Thanks for the additional recipes. Last year I made Four Thieves Vinegar using the herb mix from Bulk Herb Store and it seems to work very well. The nasty no-seeums even seem to stay away. I just need to make enough to spray the animals as well. This year, I added about 40 drops of geranium essential oil to the diluted quart of Four Thieves and I think it is even better. Oh, and it smells wonderful!

      • Éowyn says

        The Four Thieves herbs were purchased already mixed together from the Bulkherbstore.com and then steeped in apple cider vinegar for 2 weeks, strained, garlic added and after 3 more days strained again. The mix is then diluted 1:1 with water. As far as the herbs used, there are various Four Thieves recipes but as I said, I purchased mine already mixed.

  9. says

    Anything to cut down the harmful chemicals in our lives…a little at a time. Thanks for the post – I will give some of these recipes a try.

  10. Kristi Dial says

    I’m hoping someone has a natural alternative to keep fleas and tick off of dogs. I have tried everything and I really do not want to continue using chemicals but I need something that works! Help Please!!!!

    • Shanon says

      food grade diatomaceous earth is the best for fleas. It’s a great de-wormer, also. Someone brought me a puppy to rehome and it had gotten bad fleas, ticks, and worms. My dogs got infested as well as my home. Two weeks of ingestion and external application of DE got it all totally under control. No negative side effects.

  11. kathy says

    hi, just browsed through the bug spray post. i saw the one for flies but that seemed to be an outdoor one. does that repel horrible pesky house flies? is it safe to use indoors? we have a lot of them this year. finally gave up and put up that icky fly paper.

  12. maddy manley says

    Any one ever heard of what repels kissing bugs, otherwise known as cone nose bugs or assassin bugs…they like to sneak into beds and suck blood …I had skin reaction and had to take benadryl….I hear they are becoming a bigger problem…they come up fro south america and mexico…I am in northern Arizona….they say lavender works….any advice on repelling these nasty things would be so appreciated :-)

    • says

      Yuck! :( I would imagine that any of the essential oil combos in some of these links would be a good place to start. Lavender, Lemongrass, and Eucalyptus come to mind.

  13. says

    Ok, you can NEVER take this post down! It is bookmarked, copied and printed…(ok, not printed but I might LOL) Thank you for this! We have so many bugs around here I can’t enjoy my yard anymore. Now if you have something that hornets and wasps don’t like, I will love you forever!


  14. Tara says

    I would be thrilled if you could help me figure out what is the best option for me and my toddler to protect against mosquitoes. I have tried a couple of simple mixes of apple cider vinegar + lavender, or ACV/lavender/clove (can’t remember if I added anything else to that one – maybe eucalyptus?). But as soon as I step out the door to our back yard, the mosquitoes find me and attack! And shortly thereafter they start on my 15-month-old. And when they bite me, it’s 4 or 5 bites at a time. I’d like to be able to enjoy being outside with my son and allow him to be outside without being eaten. Since my sprays aren’t working very well, I got to thinking that maybe the issue is that I’m using “bug repellant” oils but maybe they aren’t the best ones specifically suited for *mosquitoes*! So I need something that is effective against mosquitoes but is also safe for breastfeeding moms and toddlers. I’ve never been a fan of citronella, so ideally I’d prefer something besides that. It’s frustrating to have to spray myself to step outside of the house for 5 seconds, but if I have to do that, I’d at least like to smell like something besides citronella. :) I thought that lavender was supposed to work against mosquitoes, but I’m still being bitten. And I thought that even ACV alone could work, but so far I’m not having any success. Is it necessary to mix with witch hazel or oil instead of just diluting in water as I have been doing? I’d appreciate any help you can provide.

    • says

      Hey Tara– it really seems to depend on the area. There are 2 essential oil blends that I like in particular for bug stuff- one is the blend, and the other is the blend– . It can be tricky to find just the right solution sometimes!

  15. Paul Vail says


    I’ve been really happy with Bugs at Bay stuff from our local farmers market — as with many of your recipes, it’s natural essential-oil based. I can get it at the Durham Farmers Market here in NC, but the company has a website and their stuff is on Amazon, too.

  16. Lori says

    OK, now I know that we all need bees and we really don’t want to kill them but since I have been using oils and it’s getting warmer they all want me, or one of my grandkids if I’ve oiled them, they also swarm around the front door, please tell me what to use to make them go where they should, or maybe what I shouldn’t wear so they aren’t attracted to us 2 of my grandchildren have had slight reactions and I really don’t want an emergency on my hands, These guys are handful enough’s, I already raised 6 I wasn’t expecting to have to raise 3 of my kid’s kids. OH well I love it it keeps me young so please help us!

    • says

      Hmmm… I’ve never had that happen before–how strange! Usually these oils tend to repel bees. You might try mixing up your formulations to see if there is a particular oil that the bees are being drawn to.

  17. Sebastien says

    Hi, thank you for those resources! I could only recommend to add doggies to the critters on which you should refrain using essential oils, etc.
    I think it’s important for people to understand that their sense of smell being that much more developed than ours, to them some experiments might smell and feel like being thrown in a pool of steaming poo… So it’s not just them disliking EO.
    Even worse, their skin won’t take it. In general, my vet always told me to compare doggie dermis to that of a baby. Be cautious, ask your vet before turning your golden retriever into the biggest, most awesome guinea pig your daughter ever had.
    And if you are the lucky parents of a bulldog, forget about it, plus you’re probably already a platinum member at your vet club and you know you can’t mess with the kibble or the grooming/hygiene of booboo…

    • Theresa says

      Check out Dr Melissa Shelton’s book of Essential Oils for Animals. I use EOs on my animals: dog, cats, reptiles. Really puts a stop to those nasty Respiratory Infections! Always start with diluted oils and work up to using neat if needed. Palo Santo and Purification Raindrop Technique is good for Fleas on animals.

  18. says

    Any suggestions for someone who is allergic to essential oils? I get a severe skin reaction when using essential oils or fragrances so a lot of stuff is out of the running for me. :( I was using NO BITES! from Heritage Essential Oils but can no longer.

  19. joanie says

    I keep reading all these disclaimers on essential oils about consulting your doctor before use if you are pregnant. Well I am searching for something without chemicals for my horses BECAUSE I am pregnant. Can you offer any insight?


  1. […] As the weather gets warmer, the flowers start to bloom, gardens grow, families spend more time outside… and insects start to swarm. Or at least that is how it feels sometimes. My family and I went up a local canyon to do a little camp fire.  It was a beautiful night in the canyon but the bugs were in full force. Luckily I had this awesome list by The Prairie Homestead up my sleeve and was prepared with some awesome natural insect repellents. Which method is your favorite of these 20 natural insect repellents? […]