Easiest Homemade Mosquito Repellent

This week we went to an outdoor show by the lake.

Pretty sunset by the beach, right? But you know what else warm weather, recent rains and large bodies of water attract? Thousands and thousands of mosquitoes. Of the worst kind.

I have never seen mosquitoes like the ones in Canada. They’re big, mean, bad-ass hooligans that can bite even through your clothes. I was excited about going out with our friends but I was also terrified because I didn’t want to come back home mauled by winged blood-sucking demons.

The thing is I refuse to use commercial brands of mosquito repellent because, dude, that shit just ain’t right. I cringe thinking of how many times I sprayed my kid with that stuff throughout her first decade of life, before I knew any better. Not anymore, especially not now that I’m pregnant.

So the night before our outing I did some research, whipped up my own concoction and did a patch test on my hand. Next day the skin looked good, no itches, rashes or any kind of reaction. Good stuff. If you’re going to try this homemade version I recommend you do the same, just to make sure you won’t come screaming at me if it gives you a reaction. Deal?

This is the easiest repellent you could possibly make. Just two ingredients! I’ve found versions that have a lot more than that, complicated steps, boiling this and cooling that. None of that here; just simple, no-nonsense directions.

Homemade Mosquito Repellent

Citronella essential oil

Almond oil

In a small container or jar (I got the set of travel bottles for beauty products at the dollar store) mix 40 drops of the citronella oil and fill in the rest with almond oil. Shake it and apply it on the skin, avoiding sensitive areas like the eyes and mucus membranes.


Doesn’t get much easier than that! We were fine during our outing and were left alone by the bugs, but I wanted to be sure sure of the repellent’s effectiveness.

Yesterday I went outside to do some yard work, and not even three minutes went by and I felt a pinch on my neck: a mosquito bite. I had forgotten to put on my repellent, so I ran back inside, slathered up on my potion– which, with the almond oil is super moisturizing, too– and walked back out. And, my dear (four) readers… I was left in peace.

I stayed out for over an hour in a humid day after a light rain, sweating and working surrounded by plants and bugs… and not one single bite.

Reasons why homemade is a gazillion times better


Average cost of repellent, at Walmart: $7.97

Approximate cost of homemade repellent: $12.18 for buying ALL ingredients and material for the first time- Citronella ess.oil: $8.99. Almond oil: $2.99. Reusable bottle: 0.20 c

And after purchasing these materials once, you can whip up at least 6 batches which means that each bottle refill costs $2.03

And each bottle refill lasts at least 12 applications, which means that each application costs 0.17 c to make. Seventeen cents.

Now, I’m not sure how many applications a spray bottle of Off! can last, but even if it lasts for 20 applications, that translates to 0.40 c per application. We may be talking cents here, but it’s still more costly and over time things add up!

There are about 12 weeks left of summer– 84 days. Let’s suppose you’re super outdoorsy and you use repellent at least twice every day. This means you’ll be applying it 168 times. If you use Off!, this will translate to approximately $67.20 spent on repellent.

BUT. If you use your own homemade version you’ll be spending only $28.56. That’s $38.64 in savings! I don’t know about you, but I can think of many more pleasant things to do with $38.64 than buying damn bug spray.


Off! List of ingredients-  Active Ingredients: N,n Diethyl Meta Toluamide (4.7%), Related Isomers (0.25%) Inactive Ingredients: Inert Ingredients (95%), Ethyl Alcohol, N,n Diethyl Toluamide, Fragrance, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice

WTF is all that anyway? What are these “inert ingredients” they speak of, but they don’t specify? Aww, aloe vera and leaf juice are listed, how cute. If only their benefits weren’t over-ridden by all the other lab juices they’re drowned in.

Homemade repellent list of ingredients- Citronella oil, almond oil.

Citronella essential oil is, among other things, a natural anti bacterial, anti depressant, anti septic, anti spasmodic, anti inflammatory, deodorant, fungicidal, insect repellent, and stimulant. Almond oil is commonly used as a carrier oil to combine with essential oils for topical use because it moisturizes the skin. It also offers some sun protection and anti-wrinkle effects, it’s great for massages, and it is the oil of choice for avoiding stretch marks during pregnancy. Win-win-win.


You can’t reuse the spray bottle from your store-bought repellent. You can’t even reuse the pump containers because it would be dangerous to mix new ingredients into a bottle containing trace leftovers of chemicals.

Every time you spray you’re sending particles of those same chemicals into the air we all breathe. And every time you go into the lake or ocean for a swim your repellent washes off your body and stays in the water, where it adds up to every other person’s repellent, body lotion, deodorant, soap suds and sunblock residues, intoxicating and harming all sorts of organisms. Sigh.

Good thing none of this happens with a homemade version, because it’s just plant oil. No biggie.

I’m sure there are many other reasons why it’s wise to go the homemade way, but for me these are the three most important ones. So, what do you think? Any chance you’ll be giving homemade repellent a try soon?

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to mention! I had read someplace that citronella wasn’t optimal for pregnant women to use, so I called Motherisk (motherisk.org), which is a Canadian institution that provides all sorts of information on how specific toxins, chemicals, ingredients, household products, etc. can be harmful to expecting mothers, and they gave me a green light on citronella. In their words, it’s considered a “low exposure” topical ingredient and therefore represents no danger. Booyah!

15 responses to “Easiest Homemade Mosquito Repellent

  1. I just use lemon balm. Rub the bruised leaves on skin and it releases the citronella oil . Lasts quite a while,too. You can steep the leaves in warm water and put the “tea” in a little spray bottle for travel.

  2. You’re welcome :-) Although now you have me thinking of making the spray version with a carrier oil. It would certainly help it stay on skin better.

  3. If you don’t like the smell of citronella, like I don’t, then lemongrass EO works just as well for mosquitos. Add some lavender EO to repel all flying insects/

  4. Pingback: Safe Bug Repellent | RaisingNaturalKids

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  6. Do you think this could work for ticks? We’re going to be deep in the Mississippi and trying to keep the creepy crawlies off naturally.

    • That’s a good question! I did a bit of research for you, and from what I read it seems like citronella is indeed used as a tick deterrent. I even found sales info on an anti-tick spray for dogs, which leads me to deduce citronella does work against ticks. That being said, I haven’t tried it for this purpose and I can’t be sure of its efficacy. The info I found also states that citronella will keep mosquitoes and bugs away only from the areas where it is applied (e.g. wearing a citronella-soaked bracelet won’t keep them away from the rest of your body.) I hope this helps!

  7. Thanks for this super easy recipe! It really couldnt get any simpler, hooray! My family just moved to Mississippi after living in Colorado for 10 years, and I am SO unprepared for bugs, flying and otherwise. :)

  8. Thanks for the simple recipe. Will be trying it on vacation and at camp this summer.

  9. Would Citronella be okay for nursing mothers too then? I could assume. How about children? Would lemongrass repel just as well?

  10. This is awesome! Can’t wait to try it. Mosquitoes LOVE me. I have about 20 bites on my arms alone right now… Thanks for sharing on Simple Lives Thursday! I found you there.

  11. I have a similar recipe which uses lemon eucalyptus eo. Worked wonderfully after I put it on! I need to get a spray bottle for it – I just used a bottle that had shower gel that I’m never going to use in it. Would be more convenient to be able to spray or quirt a little, instead of a bunch on your hand lol.

  12. Pingback: Safe Bug Repellent - Raising Natural KidsRaising Natural Kids

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