Having bugs buzzing about you as you garden, hike or do other outdoor activities is just plain annoying. And with concerns about mosquito and other insect bites possibly carrying disease, it’s a good idea to wear some form of insect repellent. But you may not want to slather yourself with chemicals such as Deet. Take heart. There are alternatives to commercial chemical-based sprays, and they use Nature’s resources- pure essential oils. A number of essential oils can help repel insects. The bugs simply don’t like the smell, and will head off in search of tastier prey. Here’s how to select and prepare an insect repellent oil that will help defend you against the buzzing onslaught.

Things You'll Need

Make Your Own Natural Insect Repellant

Choose 100 percent pure essential oils; only these offer healthful benefits. The label will state “100 percent pure.” You can find them at health food stores and online. Don’t use synthetic oils; they do not have the same benefits.

Select one to three different essential oils that appeal to you. Some of the best insect repellents are (sweet) bay, cedarwood, cinammon, clove, eucalyptus, fennel, geranium, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and thyme. Most stores have tester bottles, so take a few whiffs and choose two or three you really like.

To avoid “wearout” when sniffing multiple essential oils, take a short break and inhale a few deep breaths to clear your nose and give your brain a chance to reset.

Choose almond or sesame oil as your “carrier oil”–what the essential oils are mixed with. Buy only almond or sesame oil that is specifically designed to be used for massage. They have been refined and prepared for use on the skin. Sesame oil has the added benefit of being a natural sunscreen. You can get them at health food stores and online.

Blend the insect repellent oil by mixing one to three essential oils with the “carrier” oil. Measure the almond or sesame oil into the plastic bottle, then add three to six drops of essential oil per teaspoon of “carrier” oil. Shake well.

Smear the oil on all exposed parts of your body and gently massage in. Make sure you cover yourself well–and don’t forget your feet. You can also put some on your hair–it makes it wonderfully soft, shiny and smooth-which further helps repel insects from around your face. Reapply after swimming or perspiring heavily.


  • You can mix essential oils, but it’s recommended to limit yourself to three.

  • For anyone with sensitive skin, dilute the essential oils even more.

  • Store all oils in a cool dry place. Keep the lids firmly closed to prevent evaporation, and keep them away from sunlight.