DIY Homemade Bug Spray Repellent

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

A super easy homemade bug spray that only requires 4 ingredients! This effective DIY bug spray repellent is safe for the whole family.

I’ve been hesitant to make my own bug spray, but this past spring has been the season of conquering DIY hesitations. So far the successful conquering includes this DIY bug spray and a homemade deodorant.

My fears (for both DIYs) have been rooted in the fact that I live in Florida. I know, you’re probably already daydreaming about sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets. I really hate to burst the tourist bubble, but Florida is also known for less attractive qualities–lots of flesh-eating bugs and extreme heat (Ever cracked an egg on your drive-way and cooked breakfast? Yea, extreme). Put the two together and you get a royal disaster for extremely hot summers full of nasty bugs. Welcome to Florida!

Let’s talk homemade bug spray today.

A super easy homemade bug spray that only requires 4 ingredients! This effective DIY bug spray repellent is safe for the whole family.

I’ll admit, the idea of a DIY bug spray crosses my mind every summer. I’ve also googled “homemade bug spray” and researched many recipes. Every homemade recipe usually scares me away.  It’s not that a bug spray is tricky to make. Oh no, it’s more like the super long list of essential oils needed to make an effective spray. I love essential oils and keep quite a few on hand, but the idea of having to purchase multiple unique oils and know exactly how to use each one doesn’t appeal to my simple DIY mind.

A super easy homemade bug spray that only requires 4 ingredients! This effective DIY bug spray repellent is safe for the whole family.

In 2014, Plant Therapy introduced a line of kid-safe essential oils developed with the help of Robert Tisserand. One of the oils that instantly caught my eye in the new line was Shield Me, a kid-safe blend designed to keep the bugs away, naturally. I was thrilled to find an oil blend specifically designed with the exact amount of oils I need to make a safe and effective bug spray for my whole family.

I bought my first bottle of Shield Me (formerly called, Ban the Bugs) as soon as the spring heat arrived. With a few simple ingredients a homemade bug spray was created, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. Now that I’ve successfully conquered homemade bug spray, I get to share my recipe with you!

A super easy homemade bug spray that only requires 4 ingredients! This effective DIY bug spray repellent is safe for the whole family.

DIY Bug Spray Ingredients

High-Proof Vodka or Witch Hazel

High-proof alcohol is known for its ability to kill insects, even pesky mosquitos. We’ve used alcohol for years as an air-spray during the summer to instantly kill mosquitos that accidentally make their way into our house, as well as other pesky bugs. If you end up with a small bite, vodka (or any high-proof alcohol) can also aid in taking the sting away.


Glycerin is added to balance the harsh alcohol on the skin. Glycerin adds nourishing moisture without weighing down the light spray. If you don’t have glycerin, any nourishing oil will work: fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil.

Shield Me Essential Oil Blend

Plant Therapy’s kid-safe blend is specifically formulated using five bug-fighting essential oils: Citronella, Grapefruit, Geranium Bourbon, Rosalina, Patchouli.

Pure Vanilla Extract (optional)

Mosquitos, black flies, gnats, and even ticks hate vanilla. This simple kitchen ingredient is optional. It can be added to boost the bug-fighting power of this spray. Make sure your vanilla extract is pure and doesn’t contain sugar (high fructose corn syrup). Sugar = a yummy bug dessert.

Finally, we can play all summer long without worrying about the Florida bugs.

A super easy homemade bug spray that only requires 4 ingredients! This effective DIY bug spray repellent is safe for the whole family.

PS: Florida is still amazing and perfect. Just make sure you add a few bottles of my homemade bug spray repellent and deodorant to your bag before you visit.

DIY Homemade Bug Spray Repellent
5 from 1 vote

DIY Homemade Bug Spray Repellent

This homemade bug spray recipe will naturally keep the bug away from your skin. Using a combo of vanilla and essential oils, this homemade spray is inexpensive and easy to make.

Course DIY
Cuisine Body
Keyword Bug Spray Repellent
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 ounces
Author Kristin Marr


  • 1/4 cup vodka 150 proof grain vodka works very well. Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol may be used as a substitute
  • 1/4 cup water distilled or boiled water for long-term use
  • 1 TB vegetable glycerin fractionated coconut oil, jojoba, or olive oil may be used as a substitute.
  • 85 drops Plant Therapy's Shield Me Essential Oil (I'm not affiliated with Plant Therapy but love their oils. If you know of a similar essential oil blend by a different brand, feel free to use that.)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Using a funnel, pour the vodka and Shield Me into the bottle. Next, add the water and glycerin (or nourishing oil). Secure the lid on the bottle and shake to incorporate the ingredients.

  2. To Use: Shake the bottle before each application. Spray the bug repellent on the skin, rubbing on the skin if needed. If you're dealing with gnats, you can also spray the bugs directly. This recipe is safe to use on children and adults.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Recipe Variations:

Option 1: If you're short on time or ingredients this essential oil blend can easily be diluted with fractionated coconut oil and then applied directly to the skin. Use the recommendation on the Plant Therapy bottle for dilution. 

Option 2: Since I use this spray on my kids, I prefer to dilute the vodka with water. The dilution isn't needed for adults, if you don't mind the strong vodka smell which is masked pretty well by the essential oil blend. If you choose to skip the water dilution you'll want to decrease the amount of essential oil. Use 40 drops per 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) of liquid. You'll still need a moisturizing liquid/oil, such as: glycerin or a nourishing oil.

As with any homemade remedy, I highly recommend testing this spray first on one leg (or a small area of the skin). This is how I always test my homemade products before relying on a recipe 100% for protection. This is the recipe that's working best for my family, in our environment, but feel free to tweak the recipe according to your needs and environment.

DIY Homemade Bug Spray Repellent

More from Kristin Marr
Iced Matcha Green Tea “Latte:” Two Ways
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn...
Read More
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Helen

    About how many drops are in a bottle or mL of EO? Just curious if you had an idea…and also, I thought somewhere I had read that EO stuff (DIY, like hand soap) shouldn’t be stored in plastic bottles. Is that true, do you know?

  2. says: Hayden

    5 stars
    Love the natural way to repel bugs. My kids hate the stinky bug spray at the stores. After using this on them, they love it and I fell safe for my kids using them. Thanks.

  3. says: peggy

    this recipe sounds wonderful. can’t wait to make it. how would I find out if it is pet safe? I know you would think if it is safe for kids…should also be safe for pets. But that is not always the case. just thought you might have some info on that. thanks. and love your site!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Peggy, Here’s Retha’s response, “It depends on the pet so you will need to ask that first. If it is a cat, I don’t recommend it. If it is a dog, we can make it safe for them. Let me know what kind of pet and I can give a bit more information :).”

  4. says: Rachelle Zeigler

    I bought 80 proof vodka, would leaving the water out make this about the same strength as your recipe with 150 proof and water? And then just reduce the oil in half as well?

  5. says: Holly

    Hi! Do you know if the kid safe version is also pregnancy safe? Also, does it by any chance ruin clothes due to the glycerin or possible oil content?

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Holly, I’m not sure about pregnancy-safe. One of my favorite sites for essential oil safety is Learning About EOs. Here’s a great article with a long list of essential oils to avoid: If any of the oils from the essential oil blend are on the list I wouldn’t use Ban The Bugs. The glycerin and oil won’t stain clothes when you gently mist your skin and clothing. Just don’t heavily apply the solution to clothing.

  6. says: Katie

    Hi! I want to give this a try but I have a few questions before I start ordering the materials. How many drops does one 10mL bottle of ban the bugs contain? Do you think the glycerin oil is less oily than coconut or other oils? I have olive oil and coconut already but I would get the glycerin if you think it is worth it? Also, how many ounces does one bath of this make? You linked a 16oz bottle but I was wondering if a small size would work. Finally, do you think this vanilla ( is ok? That is what I already have. Thanks so much for all your help!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Katie, This is a super handy chart for determining the amount of oil per bottle: A 10ml bottle should yield around 170 drops of oil. I’ve never really measured the drops, just basing that number off the chart. I like glycerin because I feel it sticks to the skin better than coconut oil. Glycerin is a bit thicker than a nourishing oil (like coconut oil), and I believe it’s less oily (based on my experiences over the years). The 16oz. bottle is the brand (and bottle) I keep on hand for all my cleaners and DIY projects, but this recipe only makes 4oz, so you’ll have lots of extra “air” room. I usually double this recipe (resulting in a half full bottle). The vanilla you listed is perfect!

  7. says: georgia

    Hello i have a Question about the bug repellant I have 5 Chihuahuas and a shih tzu they’re all about 8 to 10 pounds would this be recommended for them and I also live in Florida as well so how the heat is

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Georgia, In general I usually avoid using essential oils on animals. Some essential oils aren’t safe to use around animals, so I generally play it safe. This site is really helpful for checking specific essential oils and their safety around kids and animals (the author is a certified aromatherapist):

  8. says: Noel

    Hi – I think the “Ban the Bugs” name has been changed to “Shield Me”. I was just looking at their website, and I believe this is the case.

  9. says: Megan

    Hi Kristin. I don’t have any kids but I like the idea of using the kid safe blend for this recipe so when my nieces and nephew are over I may use on them as well. Only question is, do you think the kids safe blend is maybe not as effective for adults as compared to the adult blend? Debating if I should just make two small recipes to accommodate both.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Megan, I think they are both effective. The kid-safe version is made with oils that may be safely used around children (some oils aren’t safe around kids). The non-kid-safe oil blend works the same, in my opinion, but may use some oils that aren’t safe around kids. I would definitely make the kid-safe version for your nieces and nephews, just to be safe :).

    1. says: Rachel Cooley

      Hi Chris,

      Kristin is currently out of the country, but I’ll make sure to let her know of your comment so she can respond when she returns. ~Rachel

    2. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Chris, Yes, if you’re going for long-term use. This is a short-term product (small batch). Use it within a few weeks, using your best judgment, and use distilled water.

      1. says: Noel

        What type of pull does the vodka proof play? I have 80 proof and am wondering if that will play a factor in effectiveness or not?

  10. says: Meredith

    Do you still use this homemade bug spray? Have you found any safe non toxic bug spray to buy that you would also recommend? Thanks!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Meredith, I do. I still use the essential oil for a bug spray. There are several brand options out there now. I can’t think of any nationwide brands, but I’ve seen a few in our local health food stores.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.