How to Use Essential Oils for Bug Repellent

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Did you know that bugs cause at least 700,000 deaths annually? A bite or coming into contact with these uninvited guests’ can cause you to experience unimaginable pain, unrelievable itch, and profound swelling. So how best do you naturally protect yourself and your loved one from the adverse effects associated with bugs?

Using essential oils that naturally act as bug repellents is the most sure and safest thing to do if you are to optimally protect yourself and your loved one(s) from bug-related illnesses and conditions.

Please read on to find out the best essential oils for bug repellent!

7 of the best essential oils for bug repellent

Below are some of the best essential oils that you can use to make a natural bug repellent in the comfort of your home!

Basil essential oil

Basil oil contains, citronella, estragole, limonene and nerolidol. All these volatile compounds make this essential oil a natural bug repellant. Experts recommend using this essential oil sparing and with caution, as it has the potential to lower one’s blood sugar levels when used for a prolonged time. Hence consider cleaning with this essential oil to keep bugs out of your home instead of applying it to your skin.

Patchouli essential oil

Patchouli oil has a strong, pungent scent that helps repel bugs. Spraying Patchouli oil around your home can help prevent ants, fleas, and mite infestation. Applying this essential oil on your skin also helps naturally repel bugs, promote new cell growth, heal sores and wounds and improve your skin’s elasticity.

Clove essential oil

Clove oil can be used both as a repellent and an insecticide. Clove has a pungent smell that helps keep bugs such as fleas, dust mites, flies, spiders, and ants away. This oil also contains Eugenol.

Eugenol is an active compound that speedily kills a bug by blocking its octopamine receptor binding sites. Octopamine receptors act as neurotransmitters and hormone regulators in insects. When these sites are blocked, an insect automatically dies.

Catnip essential oil

Catnip essential oil doesn’t only work as a repellent but also as an insecticidal. This essential oil contains nepetalactone, a naturally occurring chemical that repels bugs by triggering a chemical receptor in the insect’s body, causing it to experience itchy and pain sensations.

Catnip essential oil should never be applied on a child’s skin, as it’s likely to elicit a skin allergic reaction.

Lavender essential oil

Lavender contains active non-toxic terpenoid alcohol known as Linalool. Linalool makes lavender have a strong scent that works to repel bugs such as ants, ticks, moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitos.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)

Studies conducted have demonstrated that the Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus can effectively repel wasps, ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. OLE contains an active ingredient known as para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) that works by masking the skin odour that bugs use to locate a person. This, in turn, makes it difficult for a particular bug to locate an individual who has applied OLE on their skin.

Citronella essential oil

Most often, bugs will locate you by smelling your skin’s odour. When prepared and used in the proper formulation, Citronella essential oil makes it difficult for bugs to locate you by masking your skin’s odour.

A study conducted demonstrated that when Citronella essential oil is formulated correctly, it’s equally as effective as N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, commonly abbreviated as DEET. It can also protect you from bugs for not less than 2 hours.

Citronella has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antiaging properties. All these properties help protect your skin from bug-related adverse effects. Citronella oil can be safely applied to kids and pets.

4 Essential Oil Recipes for Bug Repellent

Outdoor Bug Repellant Recipe #1


  • 6 drops of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • 3 drops Tea tree essential oil
  • 3 drops of Chamomile essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons of witch hazel
  • 1 teaspoon of vodka or 91% alcohol
  • 3 tablespoons of jojoba oil
  • filtered water
  • 2 oz glass amber spray bottle


  • In a clean spray bottle, pour all of the above ingredients
  • Mix the mixture for 3-4 minutes before use
  • Reapply this mixture after every 1 hour for optimal results when you are outdoors.

Indoor and Outdoor Bug Repellant

This recipe can be used when you’re outside or spray inside in doorways to keep out pesky insects.

Ingredients required

  • 6 drops of Citronella essential oil
  • 6 drops of Geranium essential oil
  • 3 drops of Camphor essential oil
  • 2 drops of vanilla essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons of sweet Almond oil
  • 2 tablespoons witch hazel
  • 1 teaspoon vodka or 91% alcohol
  • filter water
  • 2 oz glass amber spray bottle


  • In a clean spray bottle, pour all of the above ingredients
  • Mix the mixture for 3-4 minutes before use
  • Reapply this mixture after every 1 hour for optimal results when you are outdoors.
  • If using indoors, spray along cracks, doorways, windows, and any way bugs could get in

Bug Repellant Recipe Sensitive Skin

Ingredients required

  • 25 drops of undiluted Lavender essential oil
  • 12 drops of diluted Peppermint essential oil
  • 6 drops of diluted Rosemary essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider
  • 60ml of distilled water

Steps to follow

  • In a large enough spray bottle, pour all the above ingredients
  • Shake the mixture for 3-4 minutes before use
  • After use, make sure that you store this mixture in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight

What are the best essential oils for making natural bug repellents?

Basil, Clove, Catnip, Lavender, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and Citronella are some of the most efficacious and potent essential oils that you can use to make natural bug repellents at home. For optimal effects, it’s vital that you reapply these oils after every 1 to 2 hours. Always store your homemade natural bug repellent essential oil formulation in a cool and dry place after use. This ensures that its potency is not compromised in any way.


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