Not everyone is comfortable using synthetic chemicals and pesticides to ward off bugs. Many people are turning to natural, environmentally friendly remedies for repelling insects, and homemade bug sprays are an easy solution. Not only are they typically safe for human use, they’re generally effective too.

This article will take a closer look at some of the natural ingredients that may help keep bugs at bay, and how you can use these ingredients to make your own bug spray.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires most skin-applied insect repellants to be registered for both human safety and effectiveness, the agency has also listed several natural ingredients as minimum risk pesticides.

It’s important to note that while these ingredients are safe for human use, the EPA does not evaluate them for effectiveness.

Here are some popular natural ingredients that may help repel bugs in your home and yard.

Citrus oils

Citronella and citrus oils like limonene are popular and well-known insect repellents. Studies suggest citronella helps repel mosquitoes, and it may also be effective against kissing bugs, fleas, aphids, mites, and flies.

Garlic oil

Research suggests that garlic oil may help with repelling ticks. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists garlic oil as a natural tick repellent for use in yards and gardens.

Thyme essential oil

A 2005 study suggest that thyme essential oil helps repel mosquitoes. However, thyme oil isn’t considered safe for use on your skin unless diluted.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus

A 2016 review concluded that oil of lemon eucalyptus is an effective natural mosquito repellent. Plus, according to the CDC, products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective against mosquitoes.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus shouldn’t be confused with lemon eucalyptus essential oil which isn’t effective at repelling mosquitoes.

Dill essential oil

Looking to repel bugs indoors? One study concluded that dill effectively repels cockroaches. However, the oil should be diluted before using it on your skin.

Cinnamon oil

If mosquitoes are a major concern, cinnamon oil may be a good option to consider. One study concluded that cinnamon oil helped repel mosquitoes both in a lab setting and outdoors. Another study suggested cinnamon oil may be effective in killing mosquito larvae as well.

However, cinnamon oil can cause skin reactions, so be sure to dilute it before using it on your body, or stick to using it in the yard.

Lavender essential oil

Lavender oil isn’t only helpful for relaxation and sleep. It can also be effective at repelling mosquitoes. Plus, lavender is usually considered safe for topical use without diluting it.

Peppermint oil

Studies suggest that peppermint oil works to both kill and repel mosquitoes. Plus, another study concluded that peppermint oil may be effective at keeping spiders away as well.

Many of these ingredients are considered natural and safe for human use. However, it’s important to remember that not all essential oils are safe for topical use. If you’re planning to use essential oils on your skin, you may need to dilute them with a carrier oil.

Certain essential oils, like citrus oils, can be phototoxic when applied directly to the skin. This means that sun exposure may cause severe burns and even skin cancer.

When it comes to making a bug spray recipe that’s safe on your skin, make sure that you’re choosing essential oils that are safe and effective for topical application.

For an easy and natural mosquito repellent for your skin, you’ll need the following:

  • glass spray bottle
  • oil of lemon eucalyptus or lavender essential oil
  • witch hazel

Then, follow these steps:

  • Mix 1 part oil of lemon eucalyptus or lavender essential oil with 10 parts witch hazel in the bottle. (For each drop of oil, use 10 drops of witch hazel.)
  • Shake gently to mix.
  • Spray to apply.

You can also create a homemade bug spray to use around your house or yard. Remember, while many essential oils are safe and effective for repelling insects, that doesn’t mean they’re safe for topical use.

For a DIY indoor/outdoor bug spray, you’ll need the following:

  • glass spray bottle
  • lavender essential oil
  • oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • citronella essential oil
  • distilled water
  • white vinegar

Then follow these steps:

  • Mix 10 to 20 drops of each essential oil with 2 ounces distilled water and 2 ounces of white vinegar.
  • Shake gently to mix.
  • Spray to use.

While some homemade bug sprays can help keep bugs away from your plants, others — like cinnamon essential oil — can cause damage to the plants themselves.

For a DIY recipe that won’t harm your plants, try diluting a few drops of thyme essential oil with distilled water. Mix in a glass spray bottle and spritz on your plants.

No one likes dealing with bug bites. Besides using a bug spray or repellant, there are other steps you can take to help protect yourself.

  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, especially when you’re outdoors.
  • Make sure your clothing covers your arms, legs, ankles, and feet.
  • To avoid mosquito bites, try to stay indoors at dusk and dawn.
  • Use citronella candles when you’re outdoors for additional protection.
  • Avoid wearing scented lotions and perfumes outside.
  • Get rid of standing water in gutters, birdbaths, planters, pots, and wheelbarrows.
  • Keep any food or drinks covered.

Although synthetic insect repellents are considered safe for human use, natural alternatives are growing in popularity. While studies suggest that many natural ingredients may be effective in repelling insects, more research is needed.

If you want to make a homemade bug spray, make sure you know about the safety of the ingredients you’re using. Even natural ingredients can be unsafe in certain situations.