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It is that time of year again!  The bugs are coming out and they are getting ready to find our kids (well, this is what my six year old thinks, anyways.)   I wanted to give you a few options for DIY spray, so here are some great ones that I think will be easy to make, while also being effective.

If you are looking for a deet-free alternative, consider one of these.
You can get a spray bottle at the dollar store or in the dollar section of Target.

smell spray

Repellent #1-
1 1/2 teaspoons citronella, lavender or tea tree essential oil  (any should work, but they will change based on your body chemistry, so try one out & see how it works)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups witch hazel extract
Shake these up in a spray bottle to combine the ingredients.  (Do not spray it on their faces, because you might get it in their eyes or mouth.  I spray it on my hands and wipe it on their faces.)

Repellent #2-
Vitamin E capsules: use the oil to rub on your skin.  (That’s easy enough!)

Repellent # 3:
2 cups water
1/2 tsp lavender oil
Pour into a spray bottle.  Shake & spray.

Repellent #4:
Get a 32 ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TBSP each of dried Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint
Pour into a glass jar with an airtight lid.  Rub on or pour some into a spray bottle when you are ready to use it.

Repellent #5:
(I would not use this one on kids under three because of the lemon oil)
2 oz. water
15 drops peppermint essential oil
45 drops lemon oil
Put in a spray bottle & shake to combine.

Repellent #6:
This is the only one that I have personally made:
Pure cedar oil, diluted with water.  About 5 T of the oil to a full spray bottle (the size of windex or something) of water.
This is also great for pets and for your garden.  We sprayed it around our garden to keep the bugs away.

I would like to experiment with making some of these other ones, I just don’t have any of the oils that are needed.  Maybe I’ll try them this spring or summer.   In the meantime, I try to buy the deet-free bug spray because it is safer for the kids.   This is the one the I buy for our own kids:   All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent Spray in Disney’s Phineas and Ferb Packaging (4-Ounce)   It is Deet-Free, which is a bonus for us, plus our kids LOVE this show that is on the container (Phineas and Ferb), too, so it is a win-win in our house.

If you decide to go with one that has Deet, remember these safety precautions (from Kids Health):

-Choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET (look for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide on the label).

-Repellent with DEET should not be applied more than once a day, and is not recommended for babies younger than 2 months old.

-DEET can be used on exposed skin, as well as clothing, socks, and shoes, but should not be used on the face, under clothing, or on the hands of young children.

-Do not use a single product containing both sunscreen and DEET — sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, while DEET should not be applied more than once a day.

So, now you have some safe options- make your own or buy a safe one.  I hope this helped!

If you have any of your own ‘recipes’, please leave them in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!

***If you are interested in some fun activities to do with your kids during this spring & summer, check out this link of our favorite activities that you will love!

***ps- here is our favorite DIY healthy popsicle recipe (all natural and so healthy!)


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Thanks so much for the natural alternatives! I think I will try a couple for this summer and review those on my blog. I am admittedly uneducated about deet- but I’ll do my research because it sounds icky. Aside from that- I hate the burning of skin feeling when I apply bug repellent, so I hate the thought of spraying it on my toddler. I’m consistently surprised by everyday products that are supposed to make our lives easier that are chemical laden.

    1. I didn’t know much about deet either, until last summer. Good luck making one!

  2. I think I will try numbers 2 and 5. I feel like most of the stuff I buy doesn’t work anyway! Visiting from the blog hop. 🙂

    1. Glad to have you visit! I know- our kids get bit quite a bit (we tell them that it is because they are sweet!) 😉

  3. These are great! Thanks Becky! Just a reminder to the nursing moms though, you might wanna steer clear of the ones with peppermint or sage EO since it can decrease your supply. I hate citronella, but love lavender! I didn’t realize it repelled Mosquitos! I’m gonna have to make some!

  4. Do any of these in particular work for fleas do you know? We have them in the house and we use frontline on our dog, and they don’t bother my husband or kids, but they eat me alive. I’ve been on the hunt for something I can use on my skin to keep them away.

    1. I’m not sure, honestly, but I would try them. My brother was that way- if there was a flea around, he would get a flea bite… its awful!

  5. I love these recommendations! I want to try #1 this weekend when we are camping. Is witch hazel extract the same as the astringent you can find at drug stores and such?

    1. I think that would work. You can get it on Amazon, too.

  6. I use a large household sprayer and add about a cup of apple cider vinegar, about five dropperfuls of lemongrass, two dropperful of citronella, two dropperfuls of eucalyptus, about three tablespoons of rubbing alcohol (supposed to help keep oils from separating), then fill it the rest of the way with warm water. It helps initially mix it well.
    This can be sprayed on your body or into the air around your patio, play area, anywhere you are outside.
    It really works for me. I HATE poisons, will not use them.
    Be sure to shake well each time you use it.
    Make up your own recipe, seems like just about any of the oils repel insects.

  7. mixing lavender and peppermint oils 12 drops to half a Qt warm water double for a full qt works great

  8. FYI-if using pure essential oils only put them in glass or metal containers/sprays. The oils breakdown the plastic and will contaminate the mixture. And when using essential oils and rubbing on skin using a lemon based soap gets them off your hands better. Just wanted to help.