DIY: Organic Insect Repellent

Oh, summertime – the lazy days spent by the pool or beach, the cookouts with friends that can last far longer thanks to later sunsets, the leisurely neighborhood strolls—oh, and the BUGS. Don’t forget the bugs. If you’re as lucky as I am (ahem), insects like mosquitos are a big part of your summertime and can really get in the way of the fun.

Many store-bought brands of insect repellent will do the trick as far as keeping you bite-free, but some contain ingredients like DEET and permethrin. DEET-based repellents can cause skin irritation, headaches and dizziness. DEET is so potent a chemical that it can actually melt plastic and fishing lines. And, permethrin has been categorized as a carcinogen by the EPA, who says it can cause issues like tumors and immune system problems. Not exactly ingredients you want to slather all over your skin (or your kids’ skin!)

But here’s the good news: plants have been protecting themselves against insects for quite some time, and so whipping up a batch of essential oil-based repellent is not only natural, but it can also be super effective at keeping bites at bay this summer.

Here are two natural insect repellent recipes to try:

Witch Hazel Clove Based Recipe



4 oz. distilled water

4 oz. witch hazel

20 drops clove essential oil

10 drops rosemary essential oil

15 drops lavender essential oil



Add to a small glass spray bottle and shake well before applying.

Geranium Citronella Based Recipe



30 drops geranium essential oil

30 drops citronella essential oil

20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil

20 drops lavender essential oil

10 drops rosemary essential oil

1 Tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol

½ cup witch hazel

½ water or vinegar

½ teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)



Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine. Add vegetable glycerin (if using). This isn’t essential, but helps everything stay combined. Add water and shake again. Shake before each use, as the oils and water will naturally separate.



photo credit: Presley Roozenburg