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How to Make Natural Insect Repellant

Bug Off! All-Natural Insect Repellent That Really Works

Whether sitting outdoors or relaxing in your home, keep bugs away with this natural bug repellent that really works. From dissuading mosquitoes to interrupting an ant invasion, this bug spray is made from ingredients that are all-natural and safe. Instead of smelling harsh chemicals, you'll waft a lovely scent at your next outdoor gathering while staying bite-free. And after picking up the main ingredients, this repellent costs less than a $1 per bottle to make.

What You'll Need:

  • 1/2 cup catnip
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons witch hazel
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 to 20 drops essential oil
  • Small spray bottle
  • Small funnel
  • Sauce pan
  • Bowl
  • Sieve
  • Paper towel


  1. Gather the ingredients for your homemade bug spray. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which attracts cats but repels bugs naturally. Using dried catnip, which you can find for a few dollars at any pet store, works just fine, but using the fresh stuff is even better. Vanilla is a scent that's disliked by several types of bugs, including ticks. Essential oils, such as lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, and citronella, also keep bugs away while adding a wonderful scent to this insect repellent.

  1. Measure and add the catnip to a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, boil for five minutes, and then turn off the heat and let cool for at least an hour. If using fresh leaves, then roughly chop the catnip and let simmer for 10 minutes before removing from the heat.

  1. Place a strainer within a bowl, and then line the strainer with a paper towel. Pour in the catnip tea, and strain. Now measure and add four tablespoons of the catnip tea to the small spray bottle with the help of a funnel. Reserve any leftover strained liquid in a sealed jar or plastic container for the next batch of bug spray.

  1. Next measure and add the witch hazel, which acts as a carrier for the essential oil.

  1. Vanilla repels mosquitoes, ticks, black flies, and gnats, making this delightfully smelling ingredient doubly beneficial. Measure and add the pure vanilla extract to the small spray bottle.

  1. Essential oil is the key ingredient in this bug spray, with lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, and citronella being great additives for keeping pesky insects at bay. Pick your favorite scent, or combination of oils, and add 10 to 20 drops. If using a combination of oils, drip five to 10 drops of each for a seriously strong bug spray. Top the spray bottle with water, and you're ready for spraying.

  1. Spray a small amount near your ankle to test for a skin reaction before spritzing all over, taking care to avoid the face area. This repellent is safe to reapply every 30 minutes as needed. Or spray directly on bugs, indoors or out, or on tables or along window sills to deter their pesky attention.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sarah Lipoff
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