I’ve tried a lot of homemade bug spray recipes. Some were just terrible. I remember taking one concoction camping and I’m pretty sure that I was attracting every mosquito in the county with that particular formula!
On a weekly basis, readers write in to ask about homemade insect repellents, but until now, I hadn’t developed a recipe I felt comfortable recommending. This one works for me, my family and friends that tested it, at a 100% success rate, so I’m happy to finally have an effective solution to offer.
The best part is that it’s yet another way to help use up some of my abundance of lemon balm and other herbs! If you don’t have some of the herbs listed, that’s okay. I adapt it to what I have on hand. You can make it with just lemon balm if you want. I do think the synergy of all of them makes for the best results though.
To create lemon balm bug spray:
- a handful of fresh lemon balm leaves
- plus a generous pinch each of basil, catnip and mint from your garden.
Stuff a glass jar full of the herb leaves, then pour witch hazel extract over them, almost to the top. You can usually find witch hazel in your local drug store or in the pharmacy section of a grocery store.
Cap the jar and set it in a cool, dark cupboard for a week or two. Strain and store out of heat and light.
When you’re ready to mix up a fresh batch of spray, fill a small glass spray bottle or mister half way with the infused witch hazel. You can buy the little bottles shown from SpecialtyBottle.com.
Fill the rest of the bottle with water, but not quite to the top.
At this point, I add a few drops of essential oil, to boost the spray’s power. Without the essential oil, it’s not very strong, so I highly recommend adding them.
- 1 drop basil essential oil
- 1 drop citronella essential oil
- 1 drop lemongrass (or lemon eucalyptus) essential oil
You might wish to add more or less depending on your tolerance for essential oils. I’m very conservative with their use, so feel free to adjust to your preference. If you’re pregnant, nursing, or have chronic health issues, research each essential oil and consult a qualified professional for further guidance on usage for your condition.
Screw the spritzer top onto the glass bottle and shake well.
Spritz on and around you as needed for bug control, shaking thoroughly before each application. We’ve found this exact combination will last an average of one to two hours before needing to be reapplied, but that will also depend on your particular body chemistry and how heavy the bug load in the area is.
Once you’ve mixed up a batch with water, try to use it up within a few weeks. The remaining undiluted witch hazel will last at least six months to a year, or longer.
This spray is intended for people, not pets. (I generally avoid using any essential oils on my pets.)
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