June 17, 2010

Make your own mosquito repellent spray

I so enjoy the comments y’all leave on my projects and posts. I read each and every one of them, and I try hard to respond to them all. Things recently have been far more hectic than usual, so if I have neglected to thank you for a comment you have left in the last week or so, please accept my profuse apology! Know that I appreciate each and every one of your kind words. One of these days I will get caught up and stay that way. I promise!

Today’s post is in response to a comment left by Trudie on my citronella candle post. She asks…
“I was curious if you (or any readers) have had a chance to test the effectiveness of these candles yet? Any guess as to the radius protected? I have no doubt they work better than the store bought ones, I’m just also trying to consider what additional bug prevention methods I might need at my outdoor party or how many candles. Thanks!”
The citronella candles work very well, but their protection can only go as far as the smoke released from the burning candle. I would say a 4-foot radius is probably the upper limit for a medium to large candle. It will also vary on the amount of citronella oil you are able to put into the wax. Something else to consider is that a larger wick will produce more protecting smoke.
My sister is my go-to source for natural ideas and recipes, and a couple of months ago, she sent me a bottle of bug repellent spray that is highly effective. We have all been so impressed with how well it works! For some reason, I am apparently far more delicious than the average person to mosquitoes, yet in using this spray, I have received only a handful of bites this season. This is unheard of for me! Using the spray both on our bodies and sprayed in the air around us while also burning the citronella candles delivers a one-two punch to the nasty mosquitoes that invariably surface each evening, and it feels good to know the methods I’m using to protect my family are eco-friendly and all-natural. 
Mosquito repellent spray
Recipe courtesy of my talented sister 🙂
In a spray bottle, mix and shake well to blend:
2 cups witch hazel
15 drops citronella essential oil
15 drops lemongrass essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil*
5 drops peppermint essential oil*

*If you don’t have lavender and peppermint essential oil on hand, you can substitute 5 more drops each of citronella and lemongrass.

NOTE: Peppermint oil can be toxic to young children, so when using this product with children, substitute 5 drops of any combination of the other oils in place of the peppermint.

Helpful Hints and Tips
  • Do not spray directly on faces. Instead, spray in your hands and then rub onto your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
  • The best protection against mosquito-borne illness is avoidance. If you can, remain indoors during their peak hours (dawn and dusk).
  • This spray is not waterproof/sweat-proof, so you will need to apply again hourly to ensure continued protection. Also, it will not protect against ticks, so if you are planning an outing where tick exposure is likely, I would recommend a store-bought product that contains DEET.
Have a terrific, bite-free day!
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28 Responses to Make your own mosquito repellent spray

  1. Jean June 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    definately going to try! thanks!

  2. Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue June 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    This is awesome! I buy a citronella / lemongrass type spray for my dairy goats. I could use this on them as well. It helps to keep the flies off them too.

  3. Bee's hive June 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I use this on the dog too, when I can catch him, he runs if he hears me shaking the bottle. We have No-seeums here too so it is nice to spray on the kids if we go out at night, you really don’t need to bath them after this like you do with deet, plus this spray is not oily and smells great to humans

  4. Amy June 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Such a great idea..I’m doing this!

  5. gnee June 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing this mostly natural spray! I’m making up a batch today.

  6. Krissy June 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    Your site is so great!! I love it! I love the idea of making my own mosquito repellent though! My kids are TARGETS for mosquitoes. I’m going to try this!

    Following (better late than never) for Tuesday Tag Along. 🙂 I hope you decide to come and follow me back. 🙂 I currently have a $25 Walmart gift card giveaway going on!


  7. Holly June 18, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    I am printing this out…I need it last week before I went on vacation…I despise that store bought stuff – it stinks!

  8. Mama Hen June 18, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Great! Thank you for the tip! Have a great night!

    Mama Hen

  9. Stef June 18, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    Amy, another “recipe” of yours for my files. There is nothing worse than hearing mosquitos buzz in your ears and then waking up the next morning with a bunch of little bites all over. And I hate putting repellent on the kids because then I have to bathe them before bed (maybe I should be doing that anyway, huh?) You’re so sweet with all your thank-yous, too, but I’m sure it would be impossible for you to make the rounds every day. Your postings are thanks enough as far I’m concerned!

  10. Sarah B. June 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Ug. We so need this! We’re being eaten alive in our own backyard! This definitely sounds more fun than inviting some bats to live in our yard 🙂

  11. Anonymous August 22, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    I would like to exchange links with your site http://www.positivelysplendid.com
    Is this possible?

  12. Mo June 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    So glad I found this recipe! I can’t wait to mix up a batch and use it on myself and my dogs for our early morning walks.

  13. Amanda June 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Do you have to use citronella? I really dislike the scent…but of course, it is the lesser of two evils – deet or citronella.

  14. JElsey April 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    I saw a special on insect repellent a few years back that shed some light on citronella…it has zero effect on mosquitoes. The only true solution is DEET, which was developed for the soldiers fighting in the jungles. I wonder if the witch hazel makes the difference in this spray…

  15. Amy @ Positively Splendid April 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    @JElsey – I would have to disagree that citronella doesn’t have any effect at all on mosquitoes, as I’ve used it in candles and in this spray with good results. Granted, citronella itself isn’t nearly as potent as DEET, and its effect isn’t going to be nearly as fool-proof as DEET-containing repellents like Off, but I really like the idea of seeking out natural ways of preventing bites rather than relying on synthetic, often potentially harmful ones, especially when it comes to my small children. I think it is actually the combination of all of the essential oils in this spray that deters the bugs and not the witch hazel. Thanks for stopping in!

    • anicca May 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Actually, straight witch hazel works quite well to keep the mosquitoes at bay, though I’m sure the essential oils do their part for both effectiveness and improvement of smell. =)

  16. Tabitha Bettencourt June 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Heading to town today to purchase and make it up!!!

  17. RJ July 6, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    I made some, WORKS GREAT!
    Thank you, they are like vampires here LOL
    I Linked it back to you 🙂 so others will know where I got mine at


  18. Victoria Harrold April 3, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    This recipe will definitely work for me, since I’m a fan of green living. Can’t wait to try it out in the summer. I have only one question to ask: If I prepare this natural repellent now, will it expire till summer? What do you think ?

    Best regards
    Victoria Harrold

  19. KW April 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I had understood that peppermint oil wasn’t safe for young children or pets. Does keeping it out make a difference?

    • Amy @ Positively Splendid April 9, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      I had never heard that, before, KW. Thank you for the tip!

  20. sandy April 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    where do you get the citronella oil from i have found the others but not that one. i have also been looking for some seeds to try to grow them myself

    • Amy @ Positively Splendid May 8, 2013 at 6:37 am #

      I found the citronella oil at Whole Foods.

  21. Amy May 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    After being horrendously bitten out in Africa on my last visit (over 60 £2 coin size from bum to toe) and now being a magnet to every one around I am defo trying this. Fingers crossed it works.

  22. BB May 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Peppermint oil is toxic and lethal to toddlers and young children.

    The peppermint oil (or any mint oil) can cause bronchospasm which in turn can cause suffucation and cardiac arrest in small children. Instead of any mint oil that can be inhaled, absorbed, and ingested off the skin, use essential geranium oils, rosemary oil and bergamot and lemon grass.

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