November 22, 2017

Natural Insect Repellent

Not comfortable spraying Off or other store-bought chemical-laden insect repellents on your children this summer?

Neither am I.

So I make my own. It’s cheap, easy, and best of all, it’s all natural.  Simply spray a light mist on skin and clothing as needed. 

Here’s how to make it:

You’ll need:

  • one lemon, sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, crushed
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • spray bottle
  • funnel
  • strainer
  • medium bowl


1.  While water is coming to a boil on stove, strip rosemary leaves.  Then cut and mash pieces as small as possible.

2.  Slice lemons.  Place in bowl.  Then sprinkle crushed rosemary on top.

3.  Pour boiling water over lemon and rosemary and allow to steep until cool.

4.  Pour mixture through strainer, into large bowl.

5.  Pour mixture through funnel into spray bottle.



  1. yay! i love this! does it last for a while? or can you store it?
    i despise insect repellent, but i’m loving this. : )

    • Hey Kassi! I actually have wondered myself how long this stuff can be kept around……but I was thinking….since lemon juice is an acid, and we can keep lemon juice in our fridge for forever, I think it’s a long time…..BUT, I’m going to look into it some more just to be sure. 😉

  2. I love how simple this is! It’s so nice when something has only a few ingredients. I’ve been wanting to make my own insect repellent – this looks like one I need to try.

    Thanks for the recipe.

    • Stacy!!! I just LOVE your blog!! I am going to be trying several of your homemade body wash type recipes very soon!! Also, I’ve been wanting to post a recipe soon for a soothing/calming room spray…..I didn’t look for one on your site, but I bet you know what I’m talking about. 🙂

  3. This is great! I love Burt’s Bees insect repellant product, but it’s pricey….I’m wondering how long this recipe would last too. Also, I’m thinking that you could, as an alternative, simply use a few drops each of lemon and rosemary essential oils. I already have lemon so I’m halfway there. 🙂

  4. Toni Geisler says:

    2 TBS pure vanilla extract
    2 Cups water
    Can put in spray bottle or as we did empty water bottle. Apply to people, pets, and I’ve been told horses to keep biting bugs at bay.
    Dog sits patiently for Kidlet to wipe her down. She uses make up remover cotton pad to apply. On people we hit pulse points ears, neck, upper arms, elbows, wrists, short line, knees, ankles and top of feet if in sandals.
    Lasts about 6 hours of outdoor fun.

  5. Mosquitoes are really bad where I live. I would much rather use something like this than insect spray you buy (and even then sometimes does not work). Several people have inquired about a “shelf” life, but how well does this actually work? How long does it last on you to work before you would possibly need to “re-spray” yourself?

  6. heatherc says:

    I have the same questions as Sandra. And does anyone know what/which ingredient is the deterrant for the bugs? The lemon or rosemary. I’m willing to try anything, but like I said, I have the same questions about shelf life and application frequency.

  7. So so glad I found your blog today from Sugar and Dots. I can’t wait to try this bug solution. When my family was in Italy a few months ago, my baby was feasted upon every single night by malicious mosquitos. We used lavendar oil, which helped a little, but I’d love to try your recipe. Thanks SO much for sharing. I can’t wait to dive into your other posts. Following you now on twitter.

  8. Wow, this sounds great! So easy! We’re going camping this weekend, and I’m going to give this a try.

  9. I can’t see why not, but would this product work in the home as well? I’ve had some problems with bugs in my apartment and have tried to look for natural solutions without much luck. Do you know of anything else that might help too?

    • I think it would depend on the insect….but it is worth a shot. Let me know what you learn. And yes, borax is said to be very helpful at repelling ants.

  10. Love this! I just purchased some doTerra TerraShield and have been waiting to use it to keep away the bugs… I may have to try this as well too.. or just add some of the TerraShield to it! Have you ever just used essential oils instead of the lemon or rosemary?

  11. Not sure how much you have to spray on you but this does NOT work I was very disappointed

    • So sorry to hear it didn’t work for you, Aubray. It is definitely a mild spray, and if you’d like to make it more potent, you can try adding a few drops of essential oils – rosemary, lemon, of course. 🙂

  12. That’s great. But from where I am posted, can’t get rosemary leaves. People here use citronella. Took the easy way out and get one of those natural off the shelf, self-evaporated citronella gel from this site It’s convenient but sadly works only indoor. But would be great if you have a baby and don’t want to have anything on their skin.

  13. Will try out your recipe with citronella (instead of rosemary) which is abundantly available across the neighborhood, and hope it works. Shall share later. Thanks very much.

  14. How will the insect repellent you made will work?

  15. Is it effective? Btw, super like it!! 🙂

  16. Catherine says:

    I also added fresh lemon balm in addition to the ingredients in your recipe because it is a member of the mint family. I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing.

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