Summer is the time of year for being outside, whether you are picnicking, camping, doing yard work, attending a sporting event, or simply enjoying a glass of wine on your patio. Unfortunately, pesky mosquitos and other bugs can ruin this relaxing time outside. In many cases, bug spray is the only option that will allow you to stay outside without getting eaten alive.
However, most insect repellents available in stores are full of toxic chemicals and carry that overwhelming, cough-inducing stench. Not only are many bug sprays bad for the environment, but they can be detrimental to your health, too. Thankfully, there are several all-natural bug spray options that will keep the bugs away so you can enjoy the outdoors.
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Why Use Natural Bug Spray?
For many people, keeping mosquitoes away is a priority, and so is avoiding chemicals such as DEET, which are often present in many commercial insect repellants. DEET (or N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) is designed to repel, rather than kill insects. It is used by an estimated one-third of the U.S. population and has been linked to numerous neurological problems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Furthermore, DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use and it is extremely toxic to birds and aquatic life.
These are just a couple of the main reasons why we think it is important to use a natural bug spray to protect yourself and your kiddos from nasty bug bites. If you are a DIY-er, you can even make a batch of eco-friendly bug spray yourself! Here are a couple of different options for natural bug spray that will keep bugs and insects at bay while you are outside this summer.
Essential Oil Bug Spray
Use the following ingredients to make an all-natural bug spray that is safe for your family and the environment:
- Essential oils: choose from citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, or mint
- Natural witch hazel or vodka
- Distilled or boiled water
- Vegetable glycerin
Once you have all the ingredients listed above, fill an 8-ounce spray bottle half full with either distilled or boiled water. Add the witch hazel or vodka to fill almost to the top. Add one-half teaspoon vegetable glycerin along with anywhere from 30 to 50 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Keep in mind that the more oils you use, the stronger your spray will be.
Bug Spray From Fresh or Dried Herbs
Another option for a natural insect repellent is to use fresh or dried herbs. For this recipe, you will need the following:
- Distilled water
- Witch hazel, vodka, or rubbing alcohol
- Dried herbs: choose from peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, or lavender
To make this natural, eco-friendly repellent, boil one cup of water and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of dried herbs (any combination of the above-listed herbs will work, although it is recommended to use at least one from the mint family). Mix well, cover, and let cool. Once the solution has cooled, strain herbs out and mix with one cup of witch hazel, vodka, or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place, such as the fridge, and use as needed.
These are just a couple of easy, affordable, safe, and natural recipes for insect repellents that will allow you to enjoy being outside without toxic bug sprays. If bees are bombing your barbeque, try this DIY natural bee repellent.
DIY Remedies for Stings, Bites, Scratches, and Sunburns
Already feeling the effects of insect bites or stings or other summer irritations? The following infographic from Fix.com offers natural, DIY remedies to give you some relief.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Andersson. Originally published on July 7, 2015, this article was updated in July 2021.