The 20 Best Homemade Insect Repellents (That Work Wonders!)


So you want to repel insects and bugs in the wild, but only want to to use homemade insect repellents that don’t have any of the nasty chemicals? Awesome!

The chemicals that non-homemade repellents have are a huge reason that I switched over to making my own repellents with my own ingredients.

Some of the best homemade insect repellents can be made from lemon juice, mud, essential oils, vanilla extract, flowers like lavender and sage, and many more ingredients! Let’s go over some more effective and complex recipes.

Rub on Insect Repellent Recipes

1. The best insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 32-oz bottle of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of dried sage
  • 2 tbsp of rosemary
  • 2 tbsp of lavender
  • 2 tbsp of thyme
  • 2 tbsp of mint
  • Large glass jar with an airtight lid (both to mix and hold in)

Instructions: First, pour all the vinegar into the jar. Then, place all the herbs inside the jar and seal it tightly. Make sure to store it in a visible place. Shake it very well once a day, and continue to do this for 3 weeks. The repellent will be fully complete when everything is fully mixed. Then fill up exactly half of any container with the mixture and pour water in the other half and you’re set!

Effective against: Everything (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from wellnessmama.com

This is quite the mix and truly one of the best on this entire list! It should only be used when you need serious bug control.

It works extremely effectively in repelling any type of bug.

I highly advise diluting it with water due to how strong this mixture is. It even has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

A bonus to this mixture is that it can even be used as a tincture to heal some illnesses, although I would refrain from this unless you’re in an emergency.

Make sure to note that the dose for adults is 1 tablespoon in water several times a day. Whereas for children over the age of two, it is 1 teaspoon in water several times a day.

2. Easy peasy insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 4 tbsp of avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp of sweet almond oil
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops of citronella essential oil
  • Small container

Instructions: Take your small container and mix all the avocado and sweet almond oil. Then, add all of the essential oils (following the order above). Shake it up and stir it nicely, everything should be mixed. Proceed to take the mixture and pour it into another bottle or container of your choice (you will hold it here).

Effective against:All insects (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from dontwastethecrumbs.com

Another added benefit to this mixture is that it will also help nourish your skin!

It also smells quite nice, and if you feel that you need some more of this mixture simply make some more! It’s easy peasy to make, right?

3. Ultra scented insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 15 drops citronella essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops cedar essential oil
  • 4 tbsp fennel oil
  • Small container (to mix in)

Instructions: Take your small container and add all the ingredients in order. Then, mix it up very well until it is all in a nice liquid form. Store it into a container or bottle.

Effective against: All insects (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from gudgear.com

As always, it’s a good idea to read the fair warning I displayed above.

Make sure to also label your container as well as list the ingredients in case the person you are applying it on has allergies.

4. Especial insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tbsp of jojoba oil
  • 10 drops of citronella essential oil
  • 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • Small container (to mix in)

Instructions: Put the vegetable glycerin and jojoba oil in your small container first. Stir them up very well until they are merged into one liquid. Apply all the essential oils (following the order above). Store it away in a container of your choice.

Effective against: Mainly mosquitoes, not the best at repelling random bugs.

Recipe from thethriftycouple.com

Though with a bit more ingredients, this repellent is one of the best mosquito repellents you can find.

It is not as good as the other repellents for repelling random bugs and insects, but it is great for deterring mosquitoes.

Just note, if you happen to have sensitive skin, be a bit more careful if you plan on applying this repellent to your face.

5. East Asian insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 4 tbsp of soybean oil
  • 1 tbsp of thyme
  • 20 drops of citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • Small container (to mix in)

Instructions: Put the soybean oil into the small container. Add the thyme into the container and shake it up very well (maybe even use a blender). Pour all the drops of the essential oils into the container. Mix it up very well and shake it up nicely.

Effective against: Everything (including mosquitoes)!

The story regarding how I got this recipe is very interesting, but sadly too long for me to explain it.

Nevertheless, this is an East Asian recipe and if you’re looking for a safe recipe that’s been made for years and years this should be your go-to.

It works extremely well in defending mosquitoes, and also works pretty well for lots of other insects as well.

As always, label your container along with the ingredients and read the fair warning above before using and crafting this insect repellent.

6. Vanilla extract insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 2 tbsp witch hazel
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • Vanilla extract

Instructions: Pour all the ingredients above into your container and shake them up well.

Effective against: All insects (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from gudgear.com

This is more of an on-the-go bug repellent. It’s super easy to make and should keep you in the clean for some time.

Another benefit of crafting this insect repellent is that you don’t have to worry about it irritating you if you have sensitive skin.

It’s a very child-friendly insect repellent and works great. If you see some bugs simply reapply it. 

You probably already memorized the recipe!

7. Two tablespoon wonder insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable glycerin
  • 2 tbsp soybean oil
  • 2 tbsp mineral oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp shea butter extract
  • 2 tbsp cocoa seed butter
  • 2 tbsp aloe vera essential oil
  • Small container (to mix it in)

Instructions: Pour all of the ingredients into your small container, then mix it up by shaking it.

Effective against: All insects except for mosquitoes.

The two tablespoon wonder. You’ll be surprised at how well it works!

Though its defenses against mosquitoes are a bit weak, it certainly does the job against most other nasty ticks!

Let me know how you liked this repellent, and now let’s move onto my final rub-on insect repellent.

8. All-natural insect repellent (rub-on)

  • Mud

Instructions: Find some mud, and rub it on your skin!

Effective against: All insects (especially mosquitoes)!

Rubbing Mud on Skin

Is it a myth? Well, believe it or not, it works!

Lots of ancient people covered themselves in mud when trying to repel insects and mosquitoes in the wild.

I decided to give this all-natural one ingredient insect repellent a try and I was shocked at how well it worked.

Can you guess where the bites were, though? Yep! In the areas where I didn’t have any mud!

I can proudly say that it was worth it, and if you want to have some fun with your family or friends, definitely try this next time you go camping, you won’t regret it.

9. Mama Kooba insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 3 tbsp of beeswax pastilles
  • 3 tbsp of cocoa butter wafers
  • 4 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 50 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops of citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops of geranium essential oil
  • Two 4 oz containers

Instructions: First, set the essential oils aside (you will add them last). Next, pour all other ingredients into a heat-safe bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Then, slowly melt the butter and wax into the mixture while stirring. After the beeswax is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down (you’ll know it’s ready if the edges are firm). Now, you’ll want to add the essential oils (in the order listed above). Let it cool down for 30 minutes.

Effective against: All insects (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from abetterwaytothrive.com

Voila! You’re done. The finished product should be quite firm.

This mixture can also be extremely helpful to those with damaged skin.

10. Extra intensive insect repellent (rub-on)

  • 20 drops citronella essential oil
  • 15 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops cedar essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 4 tbsp neem oil
  • A small container (to store and mix in)

Instructions: Take your small container and add all the ingredients in order. Mix it up very well until it is all in a nice liquid form. Store it into a container or bottle.

Effective against: Every insect (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from gudgear.com

Spray on Insect Repellent Recipes

11. Shakeroo insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 40 drops geranium essential oil
  • 30 drops citronella essential oil
  • 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 tbsp of vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • ½ cup natural witch hazel
  • A ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • Spray bottle

Instructions: Pour all the essential oils in a glass bottle, then shake everything nicely until it all mixes. Pour in the vodka or alcohol and proceed to shake it again. Once it is all nice and mixed, add in the witch hazel and shake it again. Pour in the vegetable glycerin and shake it well again. Once everything is mixed, add in the water and shake it again.

Effective against: All insects (especially mosquitoes)!

Recipe from wellnessmama.com

As you could tell from the name, this repellent requires lots of shaking, but it’s worth it!

Those who use this repellent properly will be protected from mosquitoes and other insects for a while due to how well this spray repellent works.

It is one of my favorites, and I highly recommend you share this exact recipe with others as it is amazing!

12. Ancient insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tbsp peppermint
  • 1 tbsp spearmint
  • 1 tbsp catnip
  • 1 tbsp lavender
  • A few dried garlic cloves

Instructions: First, boil 1 cup of water. Then, add all the dried herbs into the dried water along with the dried garlic cloves. Stir up the mixture very well, and make sure to cover it! Then, strain all the herbs out and then proceed to mix the water with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. Next, store everything in a spray bottle in a nice, cool area (a good idea could be to store it in the fridge).

Effective against: All bugs (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from wellnessmama.com

A bit of an older recipe, but it works very well. If you want to make it even stronger, there’s one simple trick you can do.

Instead of preparing the herbs as described above, prepare them in an alcohol mixture as a tincture.

This will allow you to use this as a spray directly after straining out the herbs.

Natural Mosquito Repellent Mix

13. Rava Rova insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 1 tbsp witch hazel
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 2 tbsp neem oil
  • 50 drops citronella essential oil
  • 50 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • Spray bottle (3-4 oz)

Instructions: First, pour the neem oil inside your spray bottle. Next, pour in the vodka and witch hazel and shake well. Then, add all essential oils, and voila, you’re done.

Effective against: Primarily mosquitoes, as well as a few other warm seasons bugs.

Recipe from diynatural.com

The Rava Rova repellent is one of the best homemade insect repellents if you’re looking to primarily get rid of mosquitoes.

It could also protect you against some other bugs as well, but not to the extent to which some of the other repellents can.

Nevertheless, it’s still extremely effective for mosquitoes and is a safe choice if you plan on going camping in a mosquito-infected area.

14. Relieving insect repellent (spray-on)

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • Spray Bottle (8 oz)

Instructions: First, pour the apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol in the spray bottle. Next, add all the essential oils (in order preferably). Proceed to mix thoroughly, and after you’ve mixed it, it’s ready for use.

Effective against: All bugs (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from draxe.com

An added benefit to using this repellent is that it could be quite soothing for your skin.

If you have any bug bites then this repellent will not only stop you from receiving more but also relieve your skin at the moment.

The apple cider vinegar can help reduce fine lines, oily skin, and can also help with protecting your skin from future damage.

15. On-the-go insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 4 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is better)
  • 4 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • Distilled water
  • Spray bottle

Instructions: First, pour all ingredients into the spray bottle (the order doesn’t matter). Next, shake it very well and seal off the bottle until use.

Effective against: All bugs (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from gudgear.com

A bit more of an on-the-go type of repellent, but it works quite well as long as it is freshly sprayed.

It’s always a good idea to commonly re-apply repellents, but this one, in particular, should be re-applied every 30 minutes to an hour for maximum effect.

16. Two-step insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 10-30 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 4 tbsp witch hazel or neem oil

Instructions: First, pour all ingredients into your spray bottle. Next, proceed to shake it up extremely well. After you’ve shaken your bottle, store it away safely until it’s ready to be used.

Effective against: Primarily mosquitoes.

Recipe from survivalathome.com

This is the last of the “super easy” repellents, but if you’re ever in an emergency and need to make a quick repellent, then this could also be quite effective.

It requires just two ingredients and will ward off mosquitoes for a decently long time after being applied to your skin.

Make sure to shake before use and re-apply if you notice bugs coming (that means its effect has likely worn off).

17. Soapy insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 15 tsp liquid castile soap
  • 2 tsp neem oil
  • 5 cups distilled water
  • 1 spray bottle

Instructions: First, pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Then, shake everything up nicely, and store it away until use.

Effective against: All bugs (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from dontwastethecrumbs.com

You might have to go to the store to get yourself some liquid castile soap, but trust me, it’ll be worth it!

This homemade insect repellent works extremely well and I think you’ll be very satisfied with this recipe.

18. Italiano insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • Spray bottle

Instructions: First, take the water and bring it to a rolling boil. Then, carefully add the basil and stir it in. Next, take out the mixture to a boil, cover it, and allow it to remain so for at least 6 hours. After 6 hours have passed, strain out the herbs and pour the remainder into the spray bottle. Now, you’ll want to add the vodka. Proceed to shake everything, and then enjoy your brand new homemade insect repellent.

Effective against: All bugs (including mosquitoes)!

Recipe from dontwastethecrumbs.com

Look at those Italians! They even found a way to incorporate their amazing cuisine into making insect repellents!

This truly is a great recipe and I give props to the Italians for coming up with this one.

If you ever go camping in Italy, make sure to craft yourself one of these repellents!

Spraying Mosquito Repellent

19. Jumbo Jumble insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 2 tbsp of witch hazel or vodka
  • 2 tbsp of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 50 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil
  • 20 drops of cedarwood oil
  • 20 drops of lavender oil
  • 10 drops of rosemary oil
  • ½ teaspoon of vodka (if not already using)
  • 3 or 4 oz spray bottle (dark-colored work the best)

Instructions: First, pour all the witch hazel or vodka in your spray bottle. Then, add all of the oils and essential oils (in the order above). Next, pour the additional teaspoon of vodka and proceed to shake it up! Make sure to shake it extremely well, I advise doing so for at least 4-5 times a day, for around 3 days.

Effective against: Primarily mosquitoes, but also some other bugs.

This recipe comes from my grandmother, and I use it quite often in case I want to repel some mosquitoes.

It has never let me down, and even though it does require a bit more materials to make, it’s worth it as this repellent should keep you secure for 6 to 8 hours after applying it.

If you want to learn some more homemade mosquito repellent recipes from my grandmother, check out my other post here.

20. Universal insect repellent (spray-on)

  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil
  • 4 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups of water
  • Spray bottle

Instructions: First, pour all the witch hazel or vodka in your spray bottle. Then, add all of the oils and essential oils (in the order above). Next, pour the additional teaspoon of vodka and proceed to shake it up! Make sure to shake it extremely well, I advise doing so for at least 4-5 times a day, for around 3 days. Pour the vanilla extract and freshly squeezed lemon juice in the spray bottle first. Mix them up very well, and add in the water. Then, you’ll want to add all the essential oils and lemon eucalyptus oil.

Effective against: Absolutely everything (including mosquitoes)!

Probably one of the most versatile repellents on the list, I would clearly say this is one of the best homemade insect repellents.

It lasts you for hours after applying it, and works against absolutely everything!

It’s not too hard to prepare, and holds the saying true of “saving the best for last”.

Safety Tips and Warnings Before Making Repellents

1. Beware before applying on children and elderly people

Some of the ingredients in the insect repellents might leave some of the people listed above sensitive to them.

If you want to stay safe, make sure to check in with a doctor and see if all the ingredients are safe.

For reference, some of the more extreme ingredients include but are not limited to citronella, lemongrass, and peppermint.

2. Use non-essential oil on children and elderly people

As stated above, repellents including essential oils might leave some of the people listed above a bit more sensitive to them.

Just check in with a doctor, or use non-essential oil repellents to be extra safe.

3. Put a label on every repellent

Just in case someone is allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in a repellent, including a label will let them stay safe.

Adding the date is also a good idea as the effectiveness of some repellents may wear off as time passes.

4. Refrain from spraying directly onto your face

If you spray the repellent directly on your face, you may accidentally spray some of the repellents in your mouth or eyes.

Though non-essential oil-based repellents won’t do any damage, spraying some of the more extreme repellents directly on your face may irritate some of your skin.

Instead, just spray the repellent on your hand and then rub it onto your face so that you can ensure you will miss the eyes and mouth.

5. Make sure to re-apply the repellent every few hours

Since all of these repellents are naturally made, whether you like it or not, they will eventually wear off.

If you see some bugs heading your way, just simply re-apply the repellent to be protected.

The perfect time for re-applying a repellent is usually every 1-2 hours unless otherwise stated.

6. Store all repellents in a dark cool place

What better place to store your repellents than in your fridge?

Storing your homemade bug sprays in a dark cool place helps preserve them, and is a very good idea.

7. Keep away from reach of children

Even though they’re labeled, some children may not care to read the label and mistake the repellent for something to drink.

Make sure to warn your children not to drink or touch the repellents, or if you want to be extra safe, just lock them away somewhere you know your kids won’t reach.

8. Look at all the ingredients

Even though you’re the one making the repellent, please make sure to look carefully at every ingredient and find out if you or those around you are allergic to it.

The last thing you want to be doing is having allergic reactions while camping in the middle of nowhere.

9. Avoid putting on too much of the repellent

Some people like to soak their skin in the repellents, and as always, having too much of anything is not good.

Simply spray enough to reach all exposed areas and you will be safe from all insects and mosquitoes.

10. Do not mix different repellents

Though you think to mix different repellents will make them more powerful, that’s not always the case.

Just stick to the recipes I have provided for you and do not try to make your custom repellents as sometimes mixing the wrong things can cause things to go south.

Why Natural Repellents Are Better

1. They are chemical-free

Most insect repellents use a chemical called DEET, which is actually very dangerous. There’s no point in using DEET when you can use some of these natural homemade bug sprays.

Some of them are as effective, if not even more effective than purchasable repellents containing DEET, but without those nasty chemicals.

I mean just look at some of the research! A study by Dr. Abou Donia says that DEET caused “neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory, and concentration”. The pharmacologist also says that children are at a higher risk for brain changes after DEET exposure because their skin absorbs it more readily.

2. They are cheaper

If you look at the total price, you’ll probably think it’s more expensive to make your own repellent, but actually, that’s not true at all.

The ingredients you buy are enough to make you multiple different repellents, and if you do the math precisely, you’ll realize that it actually turns out to be cheaper when you are making your own natural bug repellents.

Besides, even if it was more expensive to craft your own repellents, I’d still prefer that over risking changing my brain by using DEET.

3. They’ve been used for years

Some of the repellents on this list are based on very ancient recipes that have worked well for years.

I always like to stay as close to nature in everything I do, so I always trust things that have been made for years because back then people knew what they were doing.

I hope you all enjoyed these repellents, I’d really appreciate it if you can share this post so that you can help out your friends with repelling insects as well!

If you’re interested in looking at specifically mosquito repellent recipes, I suggest checking out reading this article I wrote a while ago.

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