Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe

This homemade mosquito repellent spray combines herbs from the garden with (optional) essential oils, witch hazel, and a few other items to make a non-toxic spray that can help keep the mosquitoes (and other biting bugs) away.

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe

As I mentioned in my Finding Joy in the Garden in Summer post, mosquitoes love me, and it’s a big reason why I am not fond of summer. And as I mentioned in my Honey-Sweetened Lemon Balm Lemonade post, I have an overwhelming amount of lemon balm and other herbs (especially herbs that mosquitoes don’t like) in my garden this summer.

My goal was to figure out a way to make a homemade mosquito repellent spray that was not only EFFECTIVE, but that also used a bunch of herbs from my garden.

When I originally started researching for making a homemade mosquito repellent spray, there were SO many recipes that used only essential oils, and those recipes used A LOT of essential oils (as in: over 120 drops(!!) for a small bottle of repellent spray.

Don’t get me wrong, essential oils are great, however, they are also kinda expensive. And my garden is OVERFLOWING with herbs, especially insect-repellent herbs, and I hate the idea of not taking advantage of my basically-free herbs.

My research has showed me that essential oils are pretty darn potent, so they really do help make an effective bug repellent spray, however, I was determined to find a way to make a more frugal mosquito repellent spray. This recipe uses only a few optional essential oils, and I tried to keep it from being crazy amounts of essential oil drops, plus, I included a list of the many different essential oil options you can use, so hopefully you can decide which one(s) to use depending on what you already own and/or your budget.

It is very important to me to try a recipe many times before I share it with you, so that I am only sharing the best and most successful recipes and tips with you. So I brought my homemade mosquito repellent spray with me to Michigan recently when I went there to visit family.

Michigan is loaded with mosquitoes in the summer, so I tried this homemade mosquito repellent spray in many different Michigan environments: up north at a cabin in the woods, in the countryside near some farms, at a disc golf course, and also at a bonfire on a muggy night near a swamp. My homemade mosquito repellent spray was just as effective against mosquitoes as the commercial sprays. Bonus: people kept telling me that they loved the scent of mine better. 

I found that I had to reapply my homemade spray at the same time that other people were reapplying their commercial sprays, which was approximately once an hour. 

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray: Inspiration

I got most of my inspiration for this DIY mosquito repellent spray from one of my favorite books: 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health, and Home, by Jan Berry. I reviewed this book before, in my How to Make a Headache Salve post. 

I LOVE this beautiful book, and I look through it often for inspiration for homemade products for my home. Jan Berry (aka The Nerdy Farm Wife) has a recipe for a Insect Repellent Spray in this book, and in that recipe, she infused witch hazel with fresh herbs, which she then combined with some essential oils to make her repellent spray.

This was the first time I saw a repellent spray that used witch hazel infused with herbs. I thought that was a clever way to include herbs in a mosquito repellent recipe.  If you would like some easy and awesome recipes for DIY projects, check out her book!

I also gathered inspiration from countless other recipes in internet-land. I honestly got a bit overwhelmed with the variety of recipes out there. There are carrier oil recipes, vodka recipes, plain witch hazel recipes, neem oil recipes, and so many other variants. One thing that bothered me, however, was that many of the recipes out there do not include why certain ingredients are used in the homemade mosquito repellent sprays. 

I’m a bit of a researcher-nerd, so that bothers me, and for that reason I tried my hardest to explain why I used the ingredients that I used for this bug repellent spray. My ingredient explanations are below the homemade mosquito repellent spray recipe.

I also included lots of notes and alternative options in the ‘ingredients’ section below the recipe. I hope that helps inspire you to create your own homemade mosquito repellent spray from the ingredients you have in your home! 

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe


Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of witch hazel, infused with fresh catnip, mint, yarrow, and lemon balm, for at least 1 week (see ingredients list below for more pest-repellent herb ideas)
  • 2 tbsp. Almond Oil (see ingredients list below for more carrier oil ideas)
  • 1 tsp. homemade vanilla extract OR vodka OR yarrow tincture (see ingredients list below for more info)
  • 10-15 drops each of rosemary essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, and eucalyptus essential oil (see ingredients list below for more ideas) (I use these essential oils)

Directions:

  1. Take a glass jar of your choice, (I used a quart jar so that I can easily make more repellent spray later), and fill it up with fresh pest-repellent herbs (see ingredients below for ideas) from your garden. You want to pack the herbs in there tight, but not too tight. I used catnip, mint, yarrow, and lemon balm. 
  2. Pour the witch hazel over the herbs in the jar. Use a wooden spoon to poke the liquid and herbs, in order to get rid of air bubbles. You can also put the cover on, gently shake it to get rid of air bubbles, and then open it up and top it off with more witch hazel.
  3. Let your witch hazel infuse with the herbs in a dark cupboard for at least one week. Gently shake the witch hazel infusion every day (it’s okay if you forget occasionally).
  4. After at least a week, strain your infused witch hazel with a mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth. Your extra infused witch hazel should be good for at least a year if you keep it in a dark cupboard.
  5. In a glass spray bottle (I use these pretty blue bottles), add 1/3 cup of infused witch hazel, 2 tbsp. of almond oil (or carrier oil of choice), 1 tsp. homemade vanilla extract (or vodka),  and 10-15 drops of rosemary essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, and eucalptus essential oil (or essential oils of choice).
  6. Shake your bottle before use. Store it in a cool, dark place.

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray: Ingredients

Why I Used Witch Hazel:

Witch hazel is wonderful for your skin: it is an anti-inflammatory and astringent. It can help with sun damage, excessive sweating, bug bites, rashes, etc. These are wonderful qualities to include in a spray to keep mosquitoes away. 

You CAN use vodka instead of witch hazel, since vodka is a stronger pest repellent than witch hazel. However, vodka all by itself can be a bit harsh on your skin, while witch hazel is a more gentler product for your skin.

In my recipe, I use mainly witch hazel, but I also include a bit of vodka, too, in the form of homemade vanilla extract (read below). That way, I’m getting the benefits of witch hazel for my skin and the pest repellent qualities of vodka as well.

Pest Repelling Herbs:

I used catnip, mint, yarrow, and lemon balm because those are the herbs that I had in abundance. Here’s a list of pest-repellent herbs, feel free to use just one of these, or a combination of the ones from this list that you have:

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Yarrow

Pest Repelling Essential Oils:

The BEST essential oils to repel mosquitoes are probably both lemongrass and citronella. However, I HATE those scents. Blegh. I chose rosemary, eucalyptus, and cedarwood essential oils because they are the more woodsy scents that I prefer. Here is my list of pest-repelling essential oils, feel free to use just one of these, or a combination from the essential oils that you already own:

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Cedarwood
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree

A Note about Carrier Oils:

Carrier oils help to balance the alcohol and witch hazel on your skin by providing nourishing moisture. They also help dilute the essential oils and help your skin absorb the essential oils better. You want a light-weight carrier oil so your skin does not feel too greasy. 

Light Carrier Oils include:

A Note about Homemade Vanilla Extract, Vodka, and/or Yarrow Tincture:

Many homemade mosquito repellent sprays use vodka instead of witch hazel. High-proof vodka (or other alcohol like brandy, etc.) is known to have the ability to repel insects, including mosquitos. In addition, pure vanilla extract is hated by: mosquitos, black flies, gnats, and even ticks.

Vodka is also a preservative and the the compound vanillin in pure vanilla extract is known for slowing the evaporation rate of other liquids, both of which helps the scent of the product last longer (mosquitoes and other pests hate strong scents).

So, I used homemade vanilla extract, which is real vanilla beans in high-proof (at least 80 proof, but 100 proof is better) vodka/alcohol. That way, I get the benefits of both vanilla AND vodka in my mosquito repellent.

The “vanilla extract” from the stores is not very trustworthy. You have to use PURE, ORGANIC vanilla extract for the benefits. That’s why I suggest that if you do not have access to homemade vanilla extract, just use vodka.

You can also use a homemade yarrow tincture. I’ll have a recipe soon, but a yarrow tincture is just yarrow in vodka, infused for a month. Yarrow is listed in the pest-repellent herbs list (above), and this way you can get a double-whammy of more yarrow and also vodka for pest-repellent purposes.

Why I Did Not Include Neem oil:

I went back and forth about including neem oil in my recipe. It is very effective against mosquitoes, however, it also has a reputation of being very stinky. I did not want my homemade mosquito repellent spray to smell bad, so I did not include neem oil in this recipe.

I also read that women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant should not use neem oil. Since I want this to be a safe recipe for everyone to use, I did not feel comfortable including neem oil.

If you want to add neem oil to this recipe, go for it! Just research it first, and if you feel comfortable using it, add it to this recipe and tell me how it goes in the comments below!


Will you be making this homemade mosquito repellent spray recipe? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Let me know which herbs and essential oils you used in your homemade mosquito repellent spray. I’d love to hear about your recipes!

I hope this repellent spray helps you have a happier summer! 🙂


My Mosquito Repellent Inspiration Recipes Include:


More Awesome Ways to Use Your Herbs:


Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe

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