Homemade Insect Repellants

1 June 2022

Insects are not inherently awful.  For instance, ants aerate the soil by building tunnels and they carry seeds down where they can germinate and grow new plants.  However, you don’t want a trail of ants marching through your kitchen.

It’s the same when you are outdoors, especially at night.  You want to enjoy the evening without being bit to smithereens.  There are a number of quality products on the market that will help repel bugs but if you plan on spending a significant amount of time outdoors this summer, you might want to try some homemade options.

The EPA has listed a number of natural ingredients that they have classified as minimum risk as a pesticides.  The EPA does not offer any opinion as to effectiveness, but here are some popular and easy to find ingredients that may help.

Citrus oils like citronella and limonene are suggested for mosquitoes, fleas, aphids, and flies.  Garlic oil for ticks and the CDC says it is okay to use in yards and gardens.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is good to repel mosquitoes and the CDC says that if your store bought product contains oil of lemon eucalyptus, you should be okay.  However, don’t be confused by lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which is not effective at all for mosquitoes.

Thyme essential oil seems to work well at keeping the mosquitoes at bay, but dilute it before applying to skin.  Tests show that cinnamon oil works in a lab setting to keep those little biters away, but it has also shown to cause a reaction on skin.


Using lavender oil to help relax after a long, hot day?  Reports show that you can use it undiluted to repel mosquitoes.

Peppermint oil has shown to kill and repel mosquitoes and may also keep spiders at bay.

Dill is reported to shoo away cockroaches, but don’t use it directly on your skin unless it has been diluted.

If you do find ants creeping into your living space, combine 1 ½ cups of water with ½ cup sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons of Borax.  Soak some cotton balls and place them near their entry point.  The sugar will attract the ants and the borax will go back to the nest with them and do them in.  It is unlikely that pets will be interested in this concoction, but use caution.  Of course, keep children away.

Found on the internet with no citation of authority:

  • Slice one lemon and one lime
  • Add a couple of slices of each to a jar
  • Add a few leaves of fresh basil
  • Fill the jar with water up to the threads
  • Add 10 to 15 drops of lemongrass oil
  • Stir
  • Add a lit floating candle

Mosquitoes should be repelled.  Always be careful when dealing with lit candles.

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