As with many household items, natural bug spray can be made inexpensively and naturally at home. Why would you want to make your own bug spray? Because it won’t contain the chemical DEET, which although approved by the EPA, is known to cause a whole host of problems, from allergic rashes to neurological damage. Yuck. In my Modern Pioneering series I show you how to make it with just a few simple ingredients.

Homemade Bug Spray:

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Homemade Bug Spray

This recipe for bug spray can be put together quickly, and best of all it can be varied based on what you have available in your pantry. Below are two variations, one with essential oils and one without, so you can mix it up and work with what you already have. Enjoy friends!

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“Homemade Bug Spray”

Prep Time2 mins
Total Time2 mins


  • Option #1:
  • 1 part natural witch hazel or vodka
  • 1 part distilled or boiled water
  • 30-50 drops essential oils like: citronella lemongrass, mint, rosemary, tea tree
  • Option #2
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons each dried or fresh rosemary thyme mint sage and lavender
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract optional


  • Option #1
  • Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before using.
  • Tip: If you don’t have essential oils but want to try this version, take fresh or dried herbs like mint, cloves, catnip, lavender, and cinnamon and boil in the water, let steep covered, then strain into the witch hazel or vodka.
  • Option #2
  • Combine vinegar and herbs in a mason jar and seal with a lid. Shake daily for 2 weeks.
  • After two weeks strain into another mason jar add the vanilla extract and store in the refrigerator. Combine with equal parts water and herbal vinegar in a spray bottle and shake well before using.
  • Tip: This solution is potent and works well in areas where there are a lot of ticks. Because it is strong smelling adding vanilla extract will give it a more pleasing aroma as well as help deter insects.

Georgia Pellegrini

Growing up on her family’s farm in upstate New York, Georgia developed a passion for simple farm-to table food and a deep connection to the outdoors. Having worked in the finance world after college, she decided to leave her cubicle and reconnect with her roots. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, she began working in Michelin restaurants in New York and France, and soon started leading her renowned Adventure Getaways: excursions around the country aimed at promoting “manual literacy” and helping participants step outside of their comfort zone and experience life more viscerally. Georgia is a firm believer in empowering people to be self-sufficient, identify personal strengths and pursue their life passions.