It’s finally summertime and the mosquitos are buzzing, ruining your perfect evening outdoors. Sure, you could keep pesky insects from biting by lathering yourself in a strong bug spray laden with harsh chemicals, but you’re trying to make some healthier choices. Essential oils can help fill in the gaps with their strong power to repel critters away. Whether you want to make a spray, set your diffuser near your seating area, or just dab a little on the exposed areas of your skin, there are essential oil solutions available for everyone’s needs.

I personally tend to be a favorite for mosquitos who are looking for a summertime snack. After an evening outdoors with no bug spray, I will come home covered in swollen, itchy welts that last for days. If I can remember to use my homemade bug spray before I leave the house, I can avoid all of the hassle of finding an itch remedy in the coming days.

Mixing up your own insect repellent might sound like something too hard to even consider, but it’s one of the easiest and handiest recipes out there. Even if you aren’t experienced with using essential oils, it’s hard to do this one wrong. Find an empty 8-ounce spray bottle (usually available in the travel section of the store or available online) and fill it halfway with water. Distilled water is the best option, but anything will do. Fill up the bottle the rest of the way with witch hazel, leaving just a small amount of room at the top.

Add in thirty to fifty drops of your favorite essential oil for keeping away bugs from the list below. The amount of drops you add depends on how strong you want your spray to be. The scent of certain oils might be very strong for your senses, so starting with just thirty drops allows you to work up to a stronger scented spray. The strength of your spray will also depend partially on how plagued your outdoor area is by mosquitos and other insects, as well as how sensitive you are to their biting.

Here are my personal favorite essential oils for repelling insects:


Peppermint oil not only gives you a fresh and clean scent, but it also works hard to repel insects. Peppermint is great if you’re particularly sensitive to heavier smells because it does smell a little bit lighter than some of the other oils suited for insect repellents.


Lavender is one of my favorite essential oils because there are just so many things you can do with it. Lavender is perfect for lathering up your little ones in insect repellent for a nighttime event. It keeps them from being eaten by mosquitos, as well as keeps them calm and prepares them for bedtime when you return home.


Clove is another calming oil that gives off a wonderfully warm scent. The aroma of clove oil is significantly more appealing than the chemical scent of commercial insect repellent or bug spray. It will keep you free of itchy bites and gives you an inviting perfume aroma. Clove and lavender mix together well, so you might want to consider adding half of the recipe amount of each (fifteen to twenty drops of each should be sufficient). It will smell more like a perfume than a bug spray!


Cinnamon oil is a fantastic option for warding off unwanted visitors that are looking to snack on your skin. Cinnamon oil on its own is fairly effective, but it works even better in combination with others. Consider combining it with clove oil or lavender oil for a different scent.


You can also purchase a classic citronella oil for a traditional insect repellent that still steers clear of the extra and unnecessary chemicals. Citronella isn’t the harmful ingredient in insect repellents that are mass manufactured for retail sales. The widely used ingredient in bug spray that has proven to be harmful is known as DEET, but citronella is a perfectly healthy ingredient to include in your homemade spray.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil does have a stronger aroma and might not be a good choice if you are particularly sensitive to certain smells. However, it does have a very strong antiseptic property and does a wonderful job of repelling insects for an afternoon outside. This is particularly effective if you’re in a wooded area that has a lot of fleas or ticks. If the aroma of tea tree oil bothers you, you may want to consider using it as a partial oil in the recipe and substituting a different oil with a more pleasant scent for the other half.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil also has a strong scent, but pairs wonderfully with peppermint. Mix the two oils together for a fresh scented bug spray that will keep the insects at bay throughout the evening. A little tea tree oil could also be incorporated into this spray to utilize the best properties of all three oils. Ten to fifteen drops of each would be an ideal ratio.

Many of these essential oils are basic ones to keep in your stock because they serve so many wonderful purposes around the home. You’re welcome to mix and match them together for a combination that meets your needs, combats the critters in your area, and crafts the ideal scent for you. A good bug spray should smell a lot more like a perfume than a chemical concoction designed to ward off pests.

You’ll relish not having the chemical aroma of commercial bug spray lingering on your skin into the evening. When you wind down for the night, you won’t mind having this spray still on your skin before going straight to sleep. Creating your own insect repellent is a simple and wonderful way to start making greener choices for your home and family with essential oils.