Natural Insect Repellent - Essential Oils to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Summer camper means warmer days with lots of insects and creatures.  Mosquitos, fleas, and ticks are common offenders that we are constantly warding off.  I've become increasingly concerned about what we are putting on our bodies and pets to control insect invasion.

You do have options with insect repellants.  First, I love essential oils.  It is my first line of defense for lots of things around my house.  From fighting colds to cleaning and relaxing linen sprays, I use essential oils a lot in our home.

Effective bug sprays can be made with essential oils.  I follow a recipe that I found from The Wellness Mama.  This bug spray calls for:

  • Distilled or boiled water
  • Witch Hazel
  • Essential Oils (you choose the combination) - citronella, lemon, rosemary, tea tree, cedar, catnip, lavender, mint, eucalyptus, cajeput
  • Vegetable Glycerin (Optional)

One reason I chose this recipe is that you can choose the combination of essential oils you use.  And, the more essential oils that you do use the stronger the spray will be.  

Start by filling an 8-ounce spray bottle half way with distilled water.  I did not have clove oil, but I wanted to infuse this scent into my spray.  I put distilled water on my stove and simmered some whole cloves in the water to scent my water.  I did this before adding to my spray bottle.  I also removed the cloves before adding the water to my bottle.

I added four cloves to my water that I simmered to add this scent to my insect spray.
Next, add the essential oils to your bottle.  You should add 30 to 50 drops of essential oils to your bottle.  For my spray, I used 10 drops each of mint, lemon, lavender and tea tree.  I use DoTerra oils.  I recommend purchasing these from DoTerra or a person that sells DoTerra.  Don't order from Amazon or big box retailer.  There is a lot of debate as to whether DoTerra oils sold on Amazon are real essential oils.  Just go right to the source.  I have more than one friend that sells this oil brand, and this is my source for essential oils.  

Finish by filling your bottle with witch hazel.  That is it.  You will have bug spray that is ready to use.  It is recommended that you use a glass spray bottle.  I'll admit that when I did this I used little plastic ones because I was making a bottle to keep in our camper.  I felt like a glass bottle would break.  While I know that many people are opposed to using plastics to store essential oils and sprays, this was what I chose to do.  

You can easily order glass spray bottles from Amazon.  I would recommend choosing something that is not clear to keep sunlight out.  

When using this natural bug spray, you might want to spray clothes with this spray instead of skin on young children.  If you are not sure about skin sensitivity, this would be helpful.  And the scent is still covering your child.  I personally spray our son's skin and his clothes so that he is covered.  

Also look for items like Superband PREMIUM Insect Repellent Bracelet: Assorted Colors - Red, Blue, & Yellow (10 Pack).  Buggy Bands can be worn by you or your child to repel mosquitos.  We have used these.  But I still feel that a spray works the best.

These Buggy Bands can be worn by you or your child to repel mosquitos.  
Finally, beware of ticks!  I have been doing some reading about tick repellents too.  Rose Geranium is one that I come across often.  The Wellness Mama article on Bug Sprays also has a recipe for a strong spray that repels ticks.  Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the main ingredients along with dried herbs in this spray.  Her recipe is practical because many of these herbs can be readily found at the grocery store or in someone's garden.

I do recommend keeping a pair of tweezers and hydrocortisone cream handy in case of ticks.  I am adding this to our camper before our next trip.  I made the mistake of ripping a tick off of me without taking the time to pull it off carefully with a pair of tweezers.  It has left a bite that has itched and irritated my skin for quite a while.

If you are bitten by a tick, be calm.  Take the time to slowly remove a tick from your body with a pair of tweezers by pulling straight up and away from the body.  If you need help, ask for it.  The CDC has helpful information about ticks including removal.  The CDC also recommends avoiding old wives tales about burning ticks off and petroleum jelly.

If you are bitten by a tick and have to remove it, use hydrocortisone cream for itching and skin irritation after it has been removed.  You can also administer Benadryl to help with itching.

Bugs can be serious business.  Be prepared and your time outdoors will be a lot more enjoyable.  I have armed us with a good natural spray.  I keep one in our camper and one at home for us to use.

If you are stocking up on summer supplies, take the time to make a natural insect repellant to use this season.  Homemade products work great and are much safer.  Have you used any natural products for insects?  Feel free to share your recipes, remedies, and ideas.  I'd love to hear from you!  Have a great week!

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