The arrival of summer means warm weather, potential beach days, hiking, and the arrival of mosquitos. Whether engaging in outdoor cookouts, lounging by a lake, or watching your kids play in the backyard, you need a powerful bug spray to repel mosquitos. It can be difficult to find a natural bug spray that is safe for your skin, but you can easily make your own bug sprays.
What’s Wrong With Commercial Bug Sprays?
You want to avoid bug bites, but you don’t want to douse your body with horrible chemicals like N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). This is the primary chemical in most commercial insect repellents, but it is not very safe for the body. According to Dr. Abou Donia, a pharmacologist at Duke University, DEET is a controversial chemical. She conducted a rat study and gave them regular human doses of DEET. The neurons in the rats’ brains began to die, which caused loss of concentration, muscle control, learning, and memory.
A different study concluded that children have a higher risk of brain damage after being exposed to DEET. Lastly, it’s interesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems that DEET doesn’t present any health concerns to adults or children. Take a gander at DEET’s side effects and then see if you believe that statement.
Do Natural Alternatives Work?
It can be tempting to just use what you are used to, i.e. commercial bug sprays that are readily available in stores. Essential oils make for excellent bug repellents, though, and they pose no threat to your health, unless you are allergic to them of course. DEET can harm the central nervous system, and it may even be an endocrine disruptor, while essential oils are chemical-free and can often improve skin health. The other thing to keep in mind about natural bug spray is that you have to reapply it way more than chemical bug sprays for it to be effective.
Now, keep in mind that all essential oils will not repel mosquitos. There are certain scents that are quite off-putting to mosquitos. When they are annoyed, they tend to avoid you and the smell. The best essential oils that repel mosquitos include:
- Citronella essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Lemongrass essential oil
- Neem essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Basil essential oil
- Bergamot essential oil
- Lemon balm essential oil
- Marigold essential oil
Everyone has different scent preferences, so find the scents that you enjoy and go that route. Lastly, do a small patch test on your arm and wait 24 hours to ensure that you don’t have a negative reaction to the oils.
DIY Bug Spray #1
- ¼ cup witch hazel
- ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 20 drops citronella essential oil
- 4 ounce spray bottle
- Pour all of the ingredients into a measuring cup with a spout. Give the ingredients a quick stir and then pour the mixture into the spray bottle.
- Screw on the top of the bottle, give it a quick shake, and it is ready to use. You can use different essential oils with this recipe as well.
DIY Bug Spray #2
- 30 drops geranium essential oil
- 30 drops citronella essential oil
- 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops rosemary essential oil
- 1 tablespoon isopropyl alcohol
- ½ cup witch hazel
- ½ cup filtered water
- Add the essential oils and the isopropyl alcohol to a glass spray bottle and shake well to combine.
- Pour the witch hazel and water into the spray bottle and shake well.
- Before each use, give it a good shake and then spray.