DEET-Free Bug Repellent with Essential Oils {Revised}

DEET-Free Bug Spray with essential oils

Last year, we had good success with this DEET-Free Bug Repellent, made from three essential oils in a spray bottle of water. This year, I’m adding another oil to the combination: Cedarwood.

Cedarwood oil is reported to repel ticks, which are a major problem for us here in Northern Virginia.

DEET-Free Bug Repellent with essential oils | Yankee Homestead
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I’m increasing the amount of oil this year, too.  Keep in mind that this is a rather loose formula–feel free to experiment with the rate of dilution.  Some folks apply these essential oils without any dilution at all, while others dilute even more than I do. Do what works best for you!

My favorite container for homemade bug spray is a 4 oz recycled fractionated coconut oil bottle.

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DEET-Free Bug Repellent with Essential Oils {Revised}

  • Author: Yankee Homestead
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 4 oz 1x





  1. Combine essential oils in a 4 oz. dark glass spray bottle.
  2. Add water to fill.
  3. Insert spray top.
  4. Shake well before each use.
  5. Optional: add custom label.


I prefer to recycle doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil bottles for this spray. Glass is generally best for essential oils, but thick sturdy plastic is a safer option when you combine kids with driveways, patios, & sidewalks.

Here’s a little video I made about my DIY Bug Spray…


DEET-Free Bug Spray with essential oils
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Kathleen Henderson

Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Avatar Cate S on 08/15/2014 at 12:47 pm

    In regards to the bug revised bug repellent recipe, can you elaborate on the optional lavender and/or eucalyptus?
    I look forward to your reply!

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 08/15/2014 at 6:38 pm

      Eucalyptus is known to repel bugs. It’s in TerraShield, but some folks like to add more of it to their bug spray. And Lavender repels mosquitoes, plus it smells nice. 🙂

  2. Avatar Teresa on 04/18/2015 at 4:33 pm

    So what do you think of these ratios? I can’t remember what I used last year, but I just keep increasing 🙂

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/06/2015 at 12:14 am

      Teresa–Either way, you can’t go wrong but the amounts listed above are still what I generally use. 🙂

  3. Avatar Terri on 05/05/2015 at 11:51 pm

    Could you tell me more about how you apply? the frequency? any details would be great.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/06/2015 at 12:17 am

      Hi Terri,
      We generally need only one application unless we’ll be outside for more than a few hours. We mist it onto bare skin as well as clothing and hair. Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Avatar Aimee on 05/23/2015 at 2:01 pm

    Do you use this on children. My 7 year old has shown skin sensitivities to 4 different oil blends and needs like a 1% dilution. I’m afraid to use it on her. I have terra shield and was going to add geranium too which I hear repels ticks.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/23/2015 at 2:13 pm

      I sure do use it on my children. 🙂

  5. Avatar Kathy on 05/26/2015 at 4:27 am

    I just bought Terrashield and have been trying to figure out how to dilute. I appreciate your advice! Thoughts on using it alone instead of with other oils? Was it still successful on its own?

  6. Avatar Jane on 05/28/2015 at 8:04 pm

    I have seen some recipes for bug spray made with witch hazel instead of just water. I am under the impression that it helps to disperse the oils in the water better. Do you have any insight? I am trying to figure out what I want to try this summer. Also, what do you do for your youngest child? I have a 1 yr. old and want to be sure I am using safe dilutions and oils on him.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/29/2015 at 12:51 am

      Hi Jane–I haven’t experimented with witch hazel, but think it should work fine (and maybe even better than water). I use this same spray on our entire family, including our 1 year old. Hope that helps!

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/29/2015 at 12:52 am

      Hi Kathy–Lots of folks do like TerraShield on its own. It contains 15 different oils and is meant to be used as a stand-alone repellent, so definitely give it a try! 🙂

  7. Avatar MaryAnn on 05/30/2015 at 2:03 am

    I tried diluting TerraShield with water and it is not mixing well. It is a given that Water and Oil do not mix together. I am curious how you get your mix to blend together with water.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/03/2015 at 7:02 pm

      MaryAnn–We just shake the bottle very well before each use. Hope that helps! 🙂

  8. Avatar Lisa kendra on 06/06/2015 at 12:38 pm

    We are peppered with gnats also in N Va. Does this recipe repels gnats? Do have you used it on your dog? Thank you.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/06/2015 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Lisa–Peppermint is great for repelling gnats, which is why we added it to our bug spray recipe. And yes, we’ve used it on our dog. I’m not an expert on using oils with pets, though. This site is a good resource: Hope that helps! 🙂

      • Avatar Lisa Kendra on 06/06/2015 at 2:38 pm

        Thank you! I will try this on our german shepherd. She has had lyme disease twice in the past three years.

  9. Avatar Angela on 06/10/2015 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Kathleen,
    I just purchased all of the oils needed to make the spray and have a question about diluting them. I usually use fractionated coconut oil to dilute my oils, is there a reason that it shouldn’t be used in this blend? Thanks!


    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/10/2015 at 9:32 pm

      Angela–You could use FCO, but it would require quite a bit of it. Also, you’d probably want to apply the spray to skin only, and rub it in. (We like to spray it all over the hair, clothes, etc., and I wouldn’t want FCO in my hair or on my clothes.) Hope that helps! 🙂

  10. Avatar Susan on 07/21/2015 at 6:43 pm

    Love your posts, especially this one! Just made a bunch of these up for giveaways!

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 07/26/2015 at 8:45 pm

      Great idea, Susan–perfect for summer!

  11. Avatar Ana on 02/16/2016 at 8:02 am

    Is purify a cleaning blend?

  12. Avatar Michelle on 05/17/2017 at 9:46 pm

    Why the purifying blend?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/18/2017 at 8:39 pm

      Because Purify contains citronella. 🙂

  13. Avatar Aileen O on 02/22/2018 at 11:32 pm

    Hmm, I can’t seem to find the link in the comments with where to get the spray top covers?

  14. Avatar Teresa Brock Cook on 05/10/2018 at 12:23 pm

    Could this also be used on my dog before he goes potty? I usually put him on a pill but I don’t want to do that this year because of the systemic effect in his body.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/10/2018 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Teresa, According to my sources, you can use all of these bug spray oils on a dog EXCEPT for Purify, which contains Melaleuca (tea tree). Just omit the Purify for your dog.

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