Have you ever tried any natural bug spray? Did it work for you? I’ve spent a lot of time surrounded by those pesky mosquitoes and black flies and as annoying as they are, I would rather not have to wear DEET if there is a better alternative. Problem is, how do you find a better alternative that is safe and effective? This may be especially important for you too if you have a baby, small children or are pregnant or breastfeeding. I don’t think anybody wants to wear DEET, but sometimes it feels like its the only thing that works!


According to Wikipedia, insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective. The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent and the benefits of DEET reach a peak at a concentration of 30 percent, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.

DEET is often sold and used in spray or lotion in concentrations up to 100%. 100% DEET was found to offer up to 12 hours of protection while several lower concentration DEET formulations (20–34%) offered 3–6 hours of protection. Other research has corroborated the effectiveness of DEET. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30–50% DEET to prevent the spread of pathogens carried by insects


I’ve been reading a lot about essential oils lately and trying to properly education myself because I wanted to try using them to make a bug spray. With essential oils, it is important to remember that although they are natural, it does not mean they are all safe, which I think a lot of people don’t fully understand. You need to learn about the dosage and how to properly use them before applying them to your skin or breathing them in. For example, one thing I’ve read is that eucalyptus oil is not safe for children.

Full disclaimer here: I am in no means an expert or have certification pertaining to the use of essential oils, so don’t hold me to this advice, but I do try to read from books and reputable sources as best I can find!

I spent a lot of time looking for a recipe to make my own DIY Bug Spray using essential oils and I wanted to share the recipe and how effective it is. It was tried on several people (over 5) in a very buggy environment this weekend! 

DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • 1.5 oz witch hazel
  • 1.5 oz water
  • 10 drops citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • Spray bottle



Mix all ingredients into spray bottle and shake well. Apply as required.


This is probably what you all want to know… does it really work? First off, I have to say, it smells very nice. It’s not too strong and it doesn’t “stink”! We were all sitting around the fire, the bugs were eating us and we sprayed this on our exposed skin and IT WORKED! That’s right. It worked, BUT it didn’t last long. And by not long, I mean only a few minutes. 🙁 #truth

I suppose if you made the dosage stronger it would last a bit longer, but I also wanted to make sure it was safe for my daughter. It may also be a bit better when the bugs aren’t so heavy. So there you have it…I think it did work for a very short period of time, but likely not a reasonable option for adventuring in very buggy conditions.

I’d love to know, have you tried bug spray with essential oils or other natural options? Did it work for you?

Are you summer plans taking you where the bugs are bad? Make sure to check out our FREE PRINTABLE Summer Bucket List as you plan your summer out!

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Thank you so much! xo Jackie

This post is NOT sponsored. The opinions and photos are of Sew Bright Creations’.

Want to collaborate? Email Jackie at sewbrightcreations@gmail.com. 

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