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DIY All-Natural Bug Spray

UPDATE: This post originally ran on April 7th but now that we’re spending more and more time outdoors we wanted to share it again!

With all the beauty and happiness that comes with springtime and festival season, we find ourselves in the best of moods thinking nothing but positive thoughts. With warmer weather, though, comes one little nuisance that somehow always seems to slip my mind… until it’s too late: mosquitoes.

Even when I am prepared, however, I never feel all that good about dousing myself in harsh chemicals to keep these buggers away from me. Like most things, though, there’s a natural solution. Here’s how to make a natural bug repellent that not harmful to your precious body — and it smells incredible.

Rosemary, sage, lavender


Witch hazel
Mixture of essential oils: Choose from rosemary, thyme, mint, cedar, lavender, catnip, citronella, tea tree, and lemongrass — citrusy and minty scents work best
Distilled water
Vegetable glycerin


Fill an 8-oz glass spray bottle halfway with distilled water (plastic bottles may possibly be harmed over time due to the essential oils). Fill almost to the top with witch hazel. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin, which will help the bug spray stay on your skin. If you don’t have glycerin, it will still work without it. Add in your mixture of essential oils — about 25-50 drops. The more drops you add, the more effective the spray will be. Screw on the top. Shake. You’re ready for use!

DIY natural bug spray

Another mosquito tip: If you find yourself around a campfire this summer (which I surely hope you do), burn some sage in the fire to keep those mosquitoes away!


If you do happen to get bitten, here’s another natural tip! Rub the inside of a banana peel onto the affected area for 5-10 minutes. This should help relieve itching and dry out the bite!

Banana and herbsDo you have any natural tips to keep bugs away? Do share!

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Christine -April 7, 2014, 10:21AM

Excellent! Perfect for any kind of outdoor living, i must try this:)

Crystal -April 7, 2014, 4:05PM

AWESOME! Thank you :)

Brooke -April 7, 2014, 10:30PM

This sounds awesome. Burning incense and sage bundles is another great way to keep the buggies away!

Quinn -April 8, 2014, 8:41AM

Where can you get these ingredients?

Sheryl -April 8, 2014, 12:01PM

Quinn – my favourite source for most natural ingredients is And for the sage and other wild-harvested plants, Juniper Ridge is great. I highly recommend their sachets for any textile storage – especially bedding!

Thanks for this recipe Free People, it’s been on my mind to get to this sooner than later! The banana peel tip is great, too.

Lastly, a heads-up to be careful with citrus essential oils’ photosensitivity:

I’m planning to whip up a bug-repellent sunscreen with the non-citric oils, to kill a few birds with one yummy-smelling stone!

Erin -April 11, 2014, 3:29PM

Where can you find a glass spray bottle??

alaska -April 13, 2014, 1:12PM

yea i would ask that too (like Erin)

fp brigette -April 14, 2014, 9:48AM

Erin & Alaska – They usually have them at Whole Foods! And there are a whole bunch online here. :)

Quinn – You should be able to get the ingredients at most health food stores — I got everything from Whole Foods.

Hope that helps!

Julie Blanner -April 15, 2014, 2:45AM

I love making new scrubs for the spring and summer season but I never thought to make a bug spray. Such a great idea, especially for my kids when they go and play when the weather gets warm!

Coordinately Yours,


Nicole -April 18, 2014, 8:55PM

I used to live in East Africa and had to deal with pesky mosquitoes all the time, instead of using chemical-filled sprays, I opted to sticking Bounce dryer sheets into my bra and/or pockets. I used to also keep them around my room as a repellant as well. This worked good for me, not sure if it would repel all insects but I think everyone should at least give this method a shot. It is cheap, simple, and in my experience effective.

Yas -April 22, 2014, 7:38PM

Where I’m from, West Africa, we keep those pesky mosquitoes away by scoring the rind on a lime and just rubbing that on your skin. Also, don’t eat bananas, if you want to keep those buggers away! (Works in Africa, works in Alberta… Where mosquitoes are as big as your face!)

Stella -April 27, 2014, 7:43AM

Excellent!Witch hazel water or oil? What is most suitable?

Ella Wild -May 3, 2014, 9:05AM

This i going to be great to have. thanks a bunch!

Ella Wild xoxox
Visit me at :
or :

Harmony -May 3, 2014, 11:11AM

All I can say is THANK YOU! Will be using all of these this summer.

Flourish Design Co. -May 3, 2014, 2:37PM

This is going to be MUCH needed this summer!!! Hate mosquito bites!

Steve -May 26, 2014, 4:21PM

The best all natural bug spray out there by far is made by a company called Mission Essentials ( – it’s called Fight Back 2…it smells great, works fabulous and has no alcohol so it feels good.

Debra -June 7, 2014, 10:19AM

My husband’s grandfather would rub mint leaves over exposed skin to keep the bugs away. I have used mint leaves (also sage leaves) when working in the garden around the house and it does work! The only problem is you have to re-apply every hour or so. Well worth the effort if you don’t want to spray yourself with nasty chemicals!

I love your spray idea much better! It is so much neater and you can customize the spray to your favorite scents! Thank you for sharing!

Whitney -June 11, 2014, 9:20AM

I Love that Free People is sharing all natural recipes! It’s discouraging to realize all the chemicals that are out there in the products we use every day. If anyone is interested in ESSENTIAL OILS please feel free to e-mail me: & check out my fb page:

Isabelle -June 26, 2014, 3:13AM

I live somehwere where I can’t purchase witch hazel, is there anything I can use as a replacement that is still safe?

Hassayampa Slim -July 6, 2014, 3:37PM

I wonder if this would work on plants as well. It would be great to have something that has a nice aroma yet would discourage those critters munching away on their leaves.

Dee -July 10, 2014, 2:43AM

You made my day! I am so tired of being dinner to those critters while gardening and don’t want to spray chemicals on my body. A couple of years ago I was suddenly awoken after being bitten by an insect while asleep in a hotel. The bites immediately became swollen. Fortunately I had a banana in my bag. I used the inside of the peel because I had read that before. It did take away the itching but I still had to go to the ER because the swelling did not go down. Eventually it subsided with no further ill effects. I am going to try the suggested remedies and so happy that I found all this info. Will pass it along. The dryer sheets I keep in my suitcase and I have one at my beside at home. Last summer I didn’t get any bites while in the house even though I did find some buzzing around.

herbman -August 1, 2014, 4:48PM

if you do not want to make your on bug spray any herb shop has them on stock.jason-quit bugging me about$8.50, quantum-buzz away are some of the numerous products at your health food stores.if you get poison ivy jewel weed the grows wild is a good products.if you can not find this weed google it to show where it grows or can be bought in a soap.

herbman -August 1, 2014, 5:18PM

before spraying any essential oil on your body or anyone else please use a little on your arm 1st to see if you have a reaction to the oil.essential oils are condensed & strong to find out about essential oils get the illustrated encyclopedia of essential oils by julia not use oils on skin full strenght use a carrier oil with it.also check out aromatherapy illustrated guide by clare walters .before using any product do your home work 1st,just because it is natural does not mean you can’t have a small side the products or do the patch test 1st.put 1drop on a cotton swab apply on the wrist elbow under your arm show it will not show put a band-aid on for 24hrs,keep dry itching or reddess will appear,do not continue use try a different oil.

Ronald Ashcraft -December 9, 2014, 2:22AM


The all natural bug spray seems to be very effective and help one repel from all kinds of bugs with complete ease.

However, one of my friends suggested me that is a website which has all the information about homemade mosquito repellents which help you to get rid of mosquito menace.

Ronald Ashcraft -December 9, 2014, 2:23AM


The all natural bug spray seems to be very effective and help one repel from all kinds of bugs with complete ease.

However, one of my friends suggested me that is a website which has all the information about homemade mosquito repellents which help you to get rid of mosquito menace.

Kate -November 29, 2015, 10:00AM

This is a great recipe! It seems really effective and smells good too. Thanks for sharing! …I just learned about an essential oil that is specific to keeping tics away and wanted to share- it’s rose geranium essential oil. To make a spray: mix 1 Tbsp. witch hazel or vodka with 40 drops rose geranium essential oil and 1/3 cup distilled water in a spray bottle. This works soooo well and smells wonderful. I found it here:


Kate -November 29, 2015, 10:02AM

Ticks** …oopsy

Rich -January 26, 2016, 9:43AM

You could also try growing and using some plants that repel bugs. You can plant some around your outdoor seating areas, whilst others can be cut and used indoors. The leaves of one of the plants can be rubbed directly on to your skin, and works as a natural insect repellent. You can read more here:

Thanks for your bug spray recipe. I have made a note of it for the summer

brbuildcare -February 22, 2016, 2:31AM

I love making new scrubs for the spring and summer season but I never thought to make a bug spray. Such a great idea, especially for my kids when they go and play when the weather gets warm!
Herbal bedbug repellent spray Bugfree

Michael -March 21, 2016, 7:15PM

Hi, I found this Amazing All Natural Bug Spray. Its made with Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Soy no chemicals in this. It works great and a few sprays keeps bugs away for hours. Here is the link:

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