Over the years I’ve tried many different natural brands of insect repellent, but, sadly, many do not work. You want to avoid using the conventional brands because of the extremely dangerous substances in them. Here are 5 quick and easy formulas that you can make at home that really work!
You really don’t want to put conventional bug repellent anyone’s skin. The skin absorbs chemicals very quickly – as if you were ingesting them. Also, children have thinner skin that absorbs quickly and they are more sensitive to chemicals.
The conventional brands have toxic chemicals that have been documented to cause many acute events such as seizures, migraines and skin reactions. Beyond that, there are the long term problems of hormone disruption and carcinogenicity.
One of the most common active ingredients found in synthetic insect repellents is DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). DEET is a powerful insecticide used in many products. Although DEET is very effective as an insect repellent, it can be a neurotoxin. When applied directly on the skin, over half of DEET is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
DEET can cause side effects such as skin rashes, muscle spasms, nausea, lethargy, and irritability. Severe reactions can be seizures or even death. Studies have shown that DEET may not be safe for use in and around water sources.
Here are some tried and true remedies that won’t poison your family.
Quick and Easy Homemade Bug Repellent
The most convenient way to use an insect repellent is to have it in a spray bottle. There are many spray bottles you can purchase at your local Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc.
Simply fill the spray bottle (I use an 8 ounce bottle) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water (cooled). Add some witch hazel almost to the top. Then add 30 – 50 drops of the essential oils you have chosen. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.
1 – Neem Oil has been shown to be effective – especially when mixed with lemongrass and peppermint. Neem is like a light garlic oil and some say that simply eating lots of garlic will help keep bugs away!
2 – Lemon eucalyptus oil and citronella are listed by the EPA as an effective repellent.
4 – Catnip oil has been shown to be more effective than DEET as a bug repellent.
5- Rosemary, basil, thyme, clove and oregano essential oils have strong odors that work effectively to keep bugs away. Simply growing the plants around your garden will help keep bugs away with the added benefit of having them handy to make a bug spray or flavor your food!
Homemade Bug Spray Instructions
- Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
- Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
- Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.
- You can vary the amount of drops of each you mix or use equal amounts of each. You can try a mixture of just one or two oils (#1,#4, #2) or you can use the more complex combination (#5).
As with any new substance, use cautiously, especially on children. Even thought these oils are safe, some people may react to the scent and/or the oil. With essential oils, less is more. I like to spray these insect formulas on clothing rather than skin when possible. See more of my disclaimer here.
Proper Use of Essential Oils
In order to properly use essential oils you really need to inform yourself as much as you can. You can read books, go online, or join into a company that sells the oils and also offers training in its use.
All of this takes time and research.
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