Essential Oils for Insect Repellent

essential oils for insect repellent

Another post to show you just how versatile and wonderful essential oils actually are. But this time we’ll use them in a more creative way. Make a natural insect repellent by making use of your essential oils for insect repellent.

The good weather is on it’s way, summer is getting closer and closer. And you’re starting to think about the holidays you want to enjoy out among nature. Maybe your thinking about; hiking, picnics with family, playing sports outdoors or simply enjoying a quiet nap to refresh. Well, you might want to take into consideration that it is also the time of insects, especially mosquitoes. Their bites can ruin hours of relaxation and fun.

Most marketed insect repellents are formulated with chemicals that can be harmful to humans and also for pets. N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, known as DEET, is the most common ingredient of these products, and applied to the skin can cause eye irritation, blisters, allergic reactions and rashes. Studies in rats have linked DEET with neurological damage, behavioral changes and even death of brain cells in these animals. Moreover this substance has a negative impact on the environment. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life and in the United States has been present in 75% of rivers and natural water sources.

A less aggressive and respectful of the environment way to keep insects at bay and avoid their bites naturally is by taking advantage of the qualities of essential oils. Just as some plants emit scents that attract insects to stimulate pollination, other aromatic substances are able to repel them. The essential oils extracted from these plants confuse insects that pass by preventing you from receiving that nasty, irritating bite.

You can use essential oils for a vast number of things. And due to properties that some contain, they make wonderful insect repellents. Some however, work better on certain insects than others. So I have compiled a list of essential oils for insect repellent you can use on those pesky bugs.

Essential Oils for Insect Repellent


  • citronella,
  • eucalyptus,
  • tea tree oil,
  • peppermint,
  • lemon,
  • basil,
  • cloves,
  • thyme,
  • lemongrass,
  • geranium,
  • lavender,
  • cinnamon,
  • bergamot,
  • rosemary.


  • cedar,
  • citronella,
  • eucalyptus,
  • tea tree oil,
  • lemongrass,
  • lavender,
  • orange,
  • pine.


  • cedar,
  • geranium,
  • juniper,
  • rosewood,
  • thyme,
  • grapefruit,
  • oregano,
  • tea tree oil,
  • eucalyptus.

These oils can be applied in different ways. I will explain how to use them and I will also provide you with some recipes so you can make your own homemade insect repellents using essential oils.

In an aromatherapy diffuser, using 5-10 drops of essential oils you can keep the room free of insects before going to bed. If you do not have a diffuser, it can also serve you just as well to put a couple of drops in your pajamas or in some tissues or cottons strategically placed around the room.

How to make your own insect repellent spray to vaporize the rooms of the house.

  • Fill half a vaporizer approximately with 200 ml water, distilled witch hazel water (that you can find in health food stores) and 96º alcohol. Or, alternatively substitute with vodka for the alcohol.
  • Next, add between 40 to 80 drops of the essential oils that you like. (The more oil used, the greater the scent of the mixture. You might want to take that into consideration. You don’t want your vaporizer being too strong. However, you want it to be strong enough to keep those pesky insects away.)
  • Generally the mixture should contain between 10 to 15% essential oil.
  • A good combination that’s effective and also smells good is: rosemary, cloves, lavender, cinnamon and eucalyptus.

Another combination to try, using the same mixture of water and distilled witch hazel water:

  • add 30 drops of citronella oil, 25 drops of peppermint oil and 15 tea tree oil.
  • It’s important you don’t fill up the entire bottle, as you need to leave a small space to mix the oils.
  • Vaporize the mixture every 2 to 3 hours, trying not to spray on children or pets and prevent it from getting into the eyes.

This spray will also serve to keep insects away from our plants. You should store this in a dark place, away from heat and sunlight to preserve its properties site.

Apply essential oils directly to the skin to repel insects

Another way to use essential oils, is by mixing them with a carrier oil. This way, you can apply them directly to the skin.

Because essential oils are highly concentrated substances, (with the exceptions of a few like; tea tree or lavender) you should not apply them directly to the skin. Therefore, they must be diluted with a carrier oil beforehand. This method is particularly suitable in the case of excursions in the summertime to protect children whilst they are out. It is best to use light oils as they have faster absorption, such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. Although you can also use the oil that you have at hand, such as olive or sunflower oil. If you do not like the texture of the oil it can be replaced with an alcohol base.

How to apply essential oils by using a carrier oil

Mix 2 tablespoons of carrier oil with 20 drops of essential oil or oils of your choice and apply the mixture to the skin every two hours or after swimming or strenuous exercise. In the case of children it is recommended to mix with 15 drops of essential oil.

Some ideas of combinations of essential oils

  • 15 drops of lavender oil + 5 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 12 drops of lemongrass oil + 6 drops Eucalyptus oil + 2 drops citronella oil
  • 10 drops rosemary oil + 7 drops cinnamon oil + 3 drops cedar oil
  • 20 drops of geranium oil (a few drops of this mixture can be put into your dog’s collar to keep ticks away.)

What if I carelessly get bitten by an insect?

Essential oils once again come to the rescue. However, in this case it is best to apply with a cotton ball. Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil or tea tree oil to reduce inflammation and itching. As mentioned in previous posts, always carry tea tree oil in your kit whilst participating in excursions or travelling to get you out of more trouble. It is so versatile, it serves not only stings but also blisters, minor cuts, abrasions and burns. And, it is one of the few oils that you can apply directly to the skin.

A few words of warning whilst using essential oils

While essential oils are natural, they are not harmless products. And therefore, you should use with caution.

  • Essential oils should not be used whilst pregnant, on newborns, very young children. Also, you shouldn’t use them on elderly folk with health problems as they can interact with some medications.
  • You should apply them with caution, avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes and always dilute. And, you should not apply them directly to the skin.
  • Tea tree oil and lavender oils are the only essential oils that you can apply undiluted to the skin.
  • We also have to keep in mind that some essential oils like bergamot are photosensitizers. As a result of wearing these oils, sunlight can cause skin blemishes.
  • Another precaution to consider is keeping them away from our pets. Although we can use certain oils on dogs to fight fleas and ticks, most essential oils have proven to be toxic to cats.

Finally note: that, if the essential oils used are of organic origin, the better they will be for you. Since you are ensuring that you are using pure oils extracted from plants that have been grown without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

Try using essential oils for insect repellent as a wonderful alternative to nasty products containing chemicals.