Let' just get this out there, mosquito repellent is a must have for me! I am a mosquito magnet living in Florida… a recipe for itchy disaster! When I get bug bites I get a huge welt that can be itchy for days.
I will probably be growing a third eye sometime soon from all the Off and DEET I have have sprayed on my body over the course of my life… sigh.
When I had no choice but to use them I couldn't bear to find out how horrible they are, but now that I know there are other options I decided to dig in a wee bit (skip if you don't want to be super sad).
please note :: I often recommend resources, some I receive an affiliate commission for, these all help to keep this site free for you!
Dangers of Mosquito Repellent
The problem with most bug repellents is DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). It was developed in the 40s and 50s for soldiers to use when they were at war in jungles. And it works… it does keep bugs off of you, but at what cost. A study by a team of researchers in France found that DEET not only effects bugs but also “inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, in both insects and mammals”.
What the what?
Upon reading way more science-y stuff than I ever wanted to, come to find out that acetylcholinesterase is a component in nerve gas used in war to kill people and that because it is absorbed through the skin it is even more toxic (only slightly toxic according to the CDC, but still toxic).
And because I am so prone to mosquitos I used it A LOT, for my whole life, maybe you too!
This articles talks about two deaths related to multi-day use of DEET, including “cases of seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects.”
That was it for me! No more store bought bug sprays!
Making A Natural Bug Spray
Before I became an essential oils junky I thought that making my own bug spray would be super hard. It's not.
All you need is a 4 oz. glass spray bottle, some drops of essential oils, some vodka and a “carrier” oil like coconut oil, almond oil or witch hazel. I KNOW, carrier oil sounds confusing, it just means that this is the main liquid part of the mix.
You can mix and match until you find something that works for you! The worst part of some recipes is that it makes you think you have to have EVERY oil or ingredient for it to work, but I tend to use Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender and Rosemary because those are the ones I have on hand!
Spray Misquito Repellent Recipe
- 4 oz. glass spray bottle
- 100 drops of essential oils (can use Cajeput, Catnip, Cedar, Citronella, Clove*, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemongrass*, Lemon*, Peppermint*, Rosemary, or Tea Tree)
- Tablespoon of vodka or rubbing alcohol
- Fill bottle to top with coconut oil, almond oil or witch hazel
* can be irritating to skin, only use if you have checked a small sample on your skin, none of them bother me!
You can add vegetable glycerine to keep it mixed up if you like but I don't bother with this, I just shake well before each use!
Roller Ball Bug Repellant Recipe
- Glass roll on bottle
- 20-30 drops of essential oils (can use Cajeput, Catnip, Cedar, Citronella, Clove*, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemongrass*, Lemon*, Peppermint*, Rosemary, or Tea Tree)
- Splash of vodka or rubbing alcohol
- Fill roller to top with coconut oil, almond oil or witch hazel
While the spray bottle is great for my “Mommy Bag” that I take to practices and games, it is not very handy to have around all the time. I love having a little roller ball version in my purse so that I can keep bugs away if I am out having an adult beverage with the girls!
Anti Itch Roller Ball
Okay, last but not least is my “no-fail, stops itchy-ies fast” solution. If a bug gets through the cloud of repellent you have sprayed, you need a way to stop the itching fast.
I have found that a mix of Lavender and Peppermint directly on the bite stops itching within 5 minutes for me. I don't use a carrier oil, but if you have sensitive skin you might need to dilute it a wee bit!
- Glass roll on bottle
- Essential oils (can use Lavender, Myrrh, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Sandalwood)
- Optional: Fill roller to top with coconut oil, almond oil or witch hazel
There you have it… all my best mosquito repellent and anti-itch bug bites recipes! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment (or if you have your own great recipes for repellent or bites I would love to hear them!)
I get my essential oils from Rocky Mountain Oils who has great resources and a high quality product! (oh and fun rewards program that let's you get free products from time to time!)