With the coming of spring and summer in temperate areas and most of the year in tropical and subtropical places, biting insects become or are a problem. Mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks often pester people, whether they are inside or outside. The good news is that it isn’t at all complex to make a very effective homemade insect repellant.
Why make it?
Most people would prefer not to be bitten by insects and other similar creatures. Aside from this, many of the biting bugs carry diseases. In the US, for example, the CDC receives over 30,000 reports of Lyme disease, alone, each year. Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of ticks, particularly deer ticks.
Mosquitoes transmit a large number of diseases and more people have died throughout history from mosquito-borne illnesses than from all other living creatures except other people.
From the time it was first created in 1944, the most commonly used insect repellant has been DEET. This substance is toxic, yet it is green-lighted by the US Environmental Protection Agency because it is designed to be sprayed on clothing, not on flesh. People spray it on flesh anyway, basically poisoning themselves in the process.
Homemade insect repellant isn’t toxic, it smells far better, and it can be sprayed directly on the skin.
Homemade repellant ingredients
The homemade repellant contains alcohol (vodka), a carrier oil (either olive oil or neem oil), and essential oils. It is the essential oils that do the repelling. All of these break down so they aren’t harmful to the environment. They are also not toxic when applied to the skin.
Note: Before using any of these ingredients, it is a good idea to check with your doctor. A person can have an allergic reaction to nearly anything, so this is just a point of allergy safety.
You’ll also need to have a spray bottle in order to apply the repellant easily. The mixture will keep longer if the spray bottle is a dark color and is kept in a dark, cool place as much as possible. As with herbs, sunlight and heat begins the breakdown process.
The bottle should also be clearly labeled.
All you need to do to make the repellant is to mix together:
- 1/4 cup olive oil or neem oil (neem oil is made from neem trees, is natural, and is a natural insecticide)
- 1/4 cup vodka (this is odorless)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon essential oil
Once mixed, pour the mixture into the spray bottle. Shake before each use and use the spray as you would for any commercial insect repellant, taking care not to get any in your eyes.
Choice of essential oils
Different essential oils repel different insects, however, they can be mixed together, so you can try variations until you find the mixture that works best for you.
Among the essential oils that are really good for repelling insects are:
- peppermint oil
- eucalyptus oil
- rosemary oil
- thyme oil
- clove oil
- garlic juice or oil
- lavender oil
- lemon oil
Although some people dislike the aroma of garlic, the rest of the essential oils have agreeable smells. DEET decidedly does not smell good.
The homemade insecticide usually works for three or four hours before it needs to be reapplied. It isn’t hard to mix and considering the amounts, it isn’t much different in price compared to commercial repellants. The best part is that this stuff really does work.