11 Natural DIY Bug Repellents

Blog | July 9th, 2019

Bugs can be a considerable bother during the warm months of the year, and applying stinky, unpleasant bug spray can feel just as bad as the bites themselves sometimes. Fortunately, there are some home remedies you can use instead of bug spray that are far cheaper and more pleasant than your standard bug repellent! In this article, we’ll introduce you to several of the best ones.

Fragrant essential oils, in particular, are a very effective deterrent to mosquitoes and other biting pests. Different combinations of the following essential oils work well for repelling these bugs, but make sure to always dilute your essential oils with a carrier oil first. Applying pure essential oils to your skin can cause irritation or other detrimental health effects!


Eucalyptus oil, especially with the addition of lemon, is well-known as an effective mosquito repellent, and It’s even been approved by the FDA for that purpose. Ideally, use 32% lemon eucalyptus oil in a solution for maximum effectiveness. This study showed that a solution of 32% lemon eucalyptus oil repelled 95% of mosquitoes for three hours.


Lavender oil is an effective repellent for bugs, but the flowers themselves work well, too. Lavender oil also calms and soothes the skin, so applying it keeps your skin healthy, too! Even planting a lavender shrub near a deck or veranda works to keep mosquitoes out of the area. The scent of lavender also mixes well with other essential oils or purely fun fragrances, such as:
  • Vanilla
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Citrus
  • Other bug-repelling fragrances

Lavender is effective at deterring both mosquitoes and fleas, and it can even help prevent garden pests from assaulting your more delicate plants! Planting a bush of sweet-smelling lavender near pest-prone plants can actually help deter insects and plant-killers from destroying them. 


Thyme is commonly used as a kitchen herb to spice up soups, meats, and other recipes, but its use as a biting pest repellent is less known. Thyme oil is excellent at repelling mosquitoes, and particularly the varieties that carry malaria. You can even put thyme leaves into a campfire, and the smoke from the burning oil and leaves will help further to keep the bugs away.


You’re probably most familiar with cinnamon as a dried spice that goes well with apples or oatmeal. However, cinnamon oil is also available, and it works excellently as a bug repellent! Cinnamon oil is actually potent enough to kill mosquito eggs, but it’s also strong enough to irritate your skin if it’s not diluted, so use it wisely.


Peppermint oil is one of the most effective oils available for repelling biting insects, and it’s so effective that you can even use it as a targeted insect killer in the right concentrations!  The scent of peppermint is fresh and energizing, and the herb is hardy, so you can even grow a peppermint shrub in your garden and rub the leaves on your skin instead of formulating a full repellent if you so desire.


Catnip isn’t just for cats, believe it or not! Some studies have shown that catnip is actually ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, which is far more harmful to you and the environment. It’s also been shown to be effective on biting flies and even ticks, some of summertime’s most hated pests.

Related: 13 Products You Definitely Need for Summer

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil is an extra-special mention here because it functions both as an insect-repelling oil and a carrier oil, meaning you can add other essential oils to it to dilute them. Soybean oil is an excellent hydrator for your skin, so in addition to keeping insects away, it also benefits your skin in several ways:
  • Helps aid hair growth
  • Nourishes your skin
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Offers antioxidant protection


You’ve probably heard of citronella with bug repellent before. Citronella is an essential oil mixture made from different types of lemongrass, and it’s a common ingredient in natural bug repellents. It can even be made into candles that can be burned, and the release of the oil into the air can keep mosquitoes and other pests out of the immediate vicinity.


Geraniol is not an essential oil, per se, but a type of alcohol that is a component of many bug-repelling essential oils, including citronella. Geraniol can be bought by itself as a derivative, or you can make use of it by using the essential oils that it comes from. However, geraniol can be irritating to the skin, so if you plan to add it to your DIY bug repellents, make sure to do so in safe quantities.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an attractive-smelling and highly effective insect repellent. If you’re a fan of fresh, mint-like scents or flavors, tea tree oil will likely appeal to you. Tea tree oil is also excellent for soothing bug bites in places that you miss, and the cooling properties of the oil are excellent for sunburns and other irritation, too. Tea tree oil also has antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s so effective on wounds!

Neem Oil

Neem oil is another excellent mosquito repellent, especially for those that might carry malaria or other diseases. However, its effectiveness against the different species of mosquitoes varies, so depending on which species are present in your region, it may or may not be an effective solution. Neem oil can be added to burning lamps such as kerosene or torches, or it can be applied to the skin with the help of carrier oil.