Essential oils, among their many other benefits, can be an effective repellent against common pests such as mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. The plant-based oils require a little bit of knowledge to create effective household repellents, but they're worth looking into if it means you don't have to use heavy chemical-based bug spray. Here are some ideas for how to use essential oils as an insect repellent.

Insect-Repelling Essential Oils: The Basics

Bugs such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas can present several health hazards if they're able to bite into human skin -- infected mosquitoes can hold diseases such as the West Nile Virus while ticks are known to host Lyme disease and encephalitis. Fleas are especially dangerous in households that have pets, as they not only lead to incredibly itchy skin but they can spread parasites such as tapeworms. Mixing the right batch of essential oils with alcohols and water creates a powerful aromatic substance that will deter these pests from entering your home.

Homemade Mosquito Repellents

candle to ward off mosquitos on a log
Kaja N/Shutterstock

To repel mosquitos, a variety of oils have been proven to be effective for repelling mosquitoes, including citronella, lemon eucalyptus, thyme, pine, cedar, clove, peppermint, coconut, soybean and geranium.

Body Spray

This quick recipe for a mosquito repellent spray allows you to choose your favorite scent while warding off pesky bloodsuckers. The witch hazel and apple cider vinegar base will get your skin to the right pH levels while keeping your skin healthy without the damaging chemicals that can be found in store-bought bug sprays. Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake before use. You can use it directly on your skin, but avoid your eyes and mouth.

Room Spray

With only mixing water, alcohol and lavender, lemon eucalyptus and lemongrass oils, this recipe is great for spraying down the rooms in your home. Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle. Because the alcohol mix isn't good for your skin, only use this concoction for spraying down rooms and furniture.

Candle Repellent

For this recipe, a combination of floating candles, sliced lemons and limes, rosemary and essential oils such as citronella, lavender and geranium will make an effective mosquito repellent that smells incredible to boot.

Homemade Tick Repellent

man spraying his legs and shoes with bug repellent outside

For dealing with ticks, various studies have found cedarwood, garlic oil and geranium to be effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, thyme, and geraniol also prove useful.

Clothing And Shoe Spray

This recipe uses grain alcohol, distilled water and a combination of geranium, cedarwood and garlic oils to create a powerful spray that will defend your clothing and shoes from nasty ticks. Simply put the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake well and get spraying. Because this recipe contains grain alcohol, be sure to avoid getting any of the mixture on your skin or in your eyes or face because it can cause irritation.

Homemade Flea Repellent

dog lying down on soft purple background

When it comes to fleas, try using rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella and tea tree oils. It's important to remember that not all essential oils are safe for pets. The safest bet is to always check with your veterinarian to make sure the oils you are using for your pet spray are safe for the animal.

Pet Body Spray

This recipe for a flea repellent body spray mixes lemongrass oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil and witch hazel. Simply pour them into a spray bottle, shake well and you're set. You can spray directly onto your pets, just be sure to do it from a distance of at least six inches. While spraying, it's crucial to avoid your pet's eyes and mouth. Try to mix and match various essential oils to find the right repellents that work effectively. It is also helpful to note that if you combine essential oils that repel different insects, you can potentially make repellents that repel ticks, fleas, and mosquitos in one spray or candle alone.

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