GreenYour Insect repellent
Make homemade bug spray
Save money while you protect the earth and your health from toxic chemicals, such as DEET, by making your own natural insect repellent at home. Various home remedies for avoiding mosquito and other bug bites abound. Some simply call for the application of one household item to the skin. For example, some claim that applying rubbing alcohol, Vick's Vaporub, or pure vanilla to the skin works as an effective insect repellent. Other recipes are slightly more complex, relying on essential oils to repel bugs.
How to make homemade bug spray
The simple rule of thumb with essential oil-based homemade bug spray is to choose an oil that repels insects and mix it with a carrier, usually an alcohol or oil. Insect repellent essential oils include clove oil and citronella (also called rose geranium), which are the most effective against mosquitoes, as well as lemongrass, eucalyptus, castor oil, peppermint, tea tree oil, lavender, and cedar. At its simplest, a homemade insect repellent of essential oil can be made by combining 1 part of your selected essential oil with 10 parts rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, vodka, olive oil, or jojoba oil.
It's important to remember not to use essential oils internally—they are designed to be used on the skin and on clothing. Also, test oils on a small patch of skin before applying widely to your body to avoid allergic reactions or skin irritations.
Here are a few recipes you can make at home with basic essential oils:
- Blend of essential oils:
- Mix the following essential oils in a 4 oz. container: 20 drops Eucalyptus oil, 20 drops Cedarwood oil, 10 drops Tea Tree oil, and 10 drops Geranium oil.
- Add 2 oz. of a carrier oil (such as Jojoba). Mix well.
- Mint-based bug spray:
- Place 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of either catnip, spearmint, or pennyroyal (all in the mint family) in a spray bottle.
- Add 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol and 1 cup of water.
- Shake well.
- Herbal insect repellent safe for use on the face:
- Blend 4 drops each of sandalwood, cajeput, and lavender essential oils with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil (such as extra virgin olive oil).
- Mix well and apply as needed.
- Vodka Mist Insect Repellent:
- Mix the following in a spray bottle: 50 drops Jojoba, 50 drops Lavender, 25 drops Eucalyptus lemon, 25 drops Lemongrass, 25 drops Patchouli, and 25 drops Catjeput.
- Add 1 fluid ounce of vodka.
- Mix well.
- Apply jojoba oil before spraying the repellent on the skin.
- Natural insect repellent lotion:
- Place 2 ounces distilled water in a large mixing bowl.
- Slowly drizzle in 2 ounces of olive oil while beating quickly with a wire whisk.
- After the oil is mixed into the distilled water, stir in 120 drops of citronella essential oil.
Making homemade bug spray helps you go green because…
- You do not need to purchase chemical bug sprays. Using products containing the insect repellent DEET may be harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife, as well as human health.
One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it's commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.
DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.