How to Make a Homemade Mosquito Repellent That Works - Herbs Info

How to Make a Homemade Mosquito Repellent That Works

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How to Make a Homemade Mosquito Repellent That Works
Photo – © Henrik Larsson –

The Dirt On Deet

Scientific research has shown that chemical-based bug sprays may cause adverse effects to the human body. When they come in contact with the skin, these chemicals may actually cause blistering, rash, soreness and may irritate the eyes. In a clinical study conducted at Duke University Medical Center, it was found out that store-bought bug sprays contain highly potent compounds that are linked with neurological disorders, and may trigger brain cell death and changes in behaviors among animals: A 2001 study demonstrated severe brain and behavioral deficits on rats after two months of daily skin applications with both DEET and permethrin, another common insecticide. [1]

DEET is also toxic to birds and aquatic life – and due to massive use has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources. Think about that for a second – we are poisoning nature! Yet it continues to be used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year!

A 2009 study found DEET to be toxic to the central nervous system. The researchers stated “We’ve found that DEET is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals.” [2]

There is also evidence that extensive, long-term exposure to DEET is associated with higher rates of insomnia, mood disorders and impaired cognitive function. [3]

According to the EPA, “Case reports of possible adverse health effects described neurological effects (seizures, encephalopathy, tremor, slurred speech, coma, and rarely, death) in children and adults.” – though it is somewhat unclear whether these effects were from overuse on skin or accidental ingestion. [4]

How To Make A Homemade Mosquito Repellent That Works

We think it’s total madness to put these kinds of manufactured chemicals on your skin. So here’s a super-simple formula for a bug repellant using essential oils:

1. Fill a clean 1-quart (32 fl.oz.) spray bottle (that has never been used for toxic chemical sprays) to half-full with distilled, boiled or filtered water.

2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top.

3. Add 30-50 drops total of essential oils that have been found by scientific research to have either insecticidal or bug repellent action (or both). Choose from one or more of the following essential oils:




Clove (well known insect repellent)

Cypress (reported in a scientific paper to have action at least equal to DEET) [5]

Lavender (also soothing and disinfectant to bug bites!)



Tea Tree




[1] Abdel-Rahman A, et al. (2001) Subchronic Dermal Application of N,N-Diethyl m-Toluamide (DEET) and Permethrin to Adult Rats, Alone or in Combination, Causes Diffuse Neuronal Cell Death and Cytoskeletal Abnormalities in the Cerebral Cortex and the Hippocampus, and Purkinje Neuron Loss in the Cerebellum.!

[2] Corbel V, et al. (2009) Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet.

[3] Lallanilla M. Oct 24, 2016. DEET vs. Natural Insect Repellents.

[4] Diethyltoluamide (DEET) Chemical Summary.

[5] Giatropoulos A, et al. (2013) Essential oil composition, adult repellency and larvicidal activity of eight Cupressaceae species from Greece against Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae).

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  • By penny, June 2, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    I have always used my own recipe for anti-midge oil by using Citronella plus rosemary and lavender oils in a base oil such as almond or grapeseed. I also use a cedar oil instead of lavender for men

  • By Michael, October 7, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

    You have Tea Tree Oil, is that from China or Australia?

  • By liz reese, October 30, 2013 @ 6:18 am

    Where can I find all these herbs?

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