Make Your Own Natural Insect Repellent

Mother applying tick repellent on daughter

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You can make natural insect repellent yourself. The insect repellent is safe and effective, and it costs much less to make it than to buy it.


You can make your natural insect repellent with a few different formulations. These repellents involve diluting essential oils that the insects find distasteful or that confuse them. The oils don't mix with water, so you'll need to add them to other oils or to alcohol. It's important to use an oil or alcohol that is safe for your skin. Also, don't go overboard with the essential oils. They are potent and could cause skin irritation or another reaction if you use too much. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not apply an insect repellent, natural or otherwise, until after you've cleared it with your physician.


Different insects are repelled by different chemicals, so you'll get a more effective repellent if you combine a few insect-repelling natural oils. If you are making large amounts of insect repellent, a good rule of thumb is to mix the repellent so it's 5% to 10% essential oil, so mix 1 part essential oil with 10 to 20 parts carrier oil or alcohol. For a smaller batch use:

  • 10 to 25 drops (total) of essential oils
  • 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol

The essential oils that work well against biting insects (mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas) are:

  • Cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • Lemon eucalyptus or regular eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • Citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • Castor oil (mosquitoes)
  • Orange oil (fleas)
  • Rose geranium (ticks and lice)

Safe carrier oils and alcohols include:

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Any other cooking oil
  • Witch hazel
  • Vodka


Mix the essential oil with the carrier oil or alcohol. Rub or spray the natural insect repellent onto skin or clothing, using care to avoid the sensitive eye area. You'll need to reapply the natural product after about an hour or after swimming or exercise. Unused natural insect repellent can be stored in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight. If you wish, you can combine the oil with aloe vera gel to change the consistency of the resulting product.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Make Your Own Natural Insect Repellent." ThoughtCo, Sep. 7, 2021, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, September 7). Make Your Own Natural Insect Repellent. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Make Your Own Natural Insect Repellent." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).