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DIY Essential Oils in the Home: All-Natural Insect Repellent

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DIY Essential Oils in the Home: All-Natural Insect Repellent

July 25, 2018

A while back we ran a miniseries on how to use essential oils in the home, from all-purpose cleaners to simple linen sprays. Today—in time for the heat of summer—we’re revisiting how to make a chemical-free insect repellent, courtesy of Dawn De La Fuente, owner of herbal apothecary S/he Studio. It’s a subtle way to keep mosquitoes at bay around the campfire or in the summer bedroom. Here’s how.

An unwelcome side effect of letting in the summer breeze (as in this A Chic Fixer-Upper on Fire Island): buzzing visitors. Unlike standard bug sprays, essential oils are pleasant-smelling enough to use indoors.
Above: An unwelcome side effect of letting in the summer breeze (as in this A Chic Fixer-Upper on Fire Island): buzzing visitors. Unlike standard bug sprays, essential oils are pleasant-smelling enough to use indoors.

Forget deet: “Essential oils like clove, citronella, and patchouli are often used as ingredients in bug repellents because their scent is potent to the olfactory senses of many insects,” De La Fuente says. “Traditionally, a few drops of clove oil were placed on bedsheets at night to keep bugs away.” De La Fuente suggests spraying a blend of clove, rosemary, and lavender essential oils on sheets and clothing or dotting the mixture around the tent when camping.

To make all-natural insect repellant:

4 oz distilled water
4 oz witch hazel
20 drops of Clove Essential Oil
10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Add to a small glass spray bottle and shake well. Spray on clothing, sheets, and gear.

(To deter bugs and mice, try placing cotton balls dipped in Peppermint Essential Oil around the house.)

N.B.: Take care before using essential oils, and always test in a small, discreet area of skin, clothing, or furniture before applying. “Essential oils are the most potent form of plant medicine and must be respected and handled with care,” De La Fuente says. You may want to consult your physician (and your veterinarian) before using.

For more recipes using essential oils (and mosquito bite remedies, courtesy of Gardenista), see our posts:

N.B. This post is an update; the original story ran on May 19, 2017.

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