For those struggling to find a natural bug repellent, here is my DIY Natural Bug Spray recipe that is effective and easy to make. Bugs, especially mosquitos simply freaking love me!  I have no idea why! But it’s really annoying. 

a bottle of DIY bug spray sitting in a garden

What’s the Deal with DEET?

Bug sprays are traditionally made from DEET, yeah sure it works like a charm to zap those pesky bugs but there have also been studies that have suggested that DEET is a neurotoxin that may be harmful to humans.  In 2009, the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found a link between DEET and hypospadias (the penis opening is in the wrong place), yeah I know! Much more research is needed to confirm these types of findings though. 

Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. recommend DEET-based repellants as safe for humans. But they strongly urge consumers to follow manufacturers’ directions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. says DEET products are intended only for “spare and infrequent use.”

Back in 2004, Health Canada phased out insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET, noting that “even though DEET is a safe product, it will only allow bug repellents with less than 30 percent concentration of DEET. Combination sunscreen/bug lotions won’t be allowed at all.

Ultimately you need to do what’s right for you and your family. I would never use DEET in my backyard but if I was trekking through a jungle where malaria was an issue, I’d be okay with short-term use. 

Natural alternatives to DEET


Citronella is a naturally occurring oil that repels insects. It is distilled from two types of grass, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. it is currently approved as safe for humans and the environment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Back in 2014, Health Canada wanted to ban it but after public outcry, the agency decided to review its plan to ban the product. As of right now, they advise that it should not be used on infants and toddlers. It is considered to be a safe mosquito repellent. I’ve used citronella candles, I don’t like the smell at all I find you have to sit pretty close to the candle for it to be effective. 

Neem/Catnip oil 

Need oil has been used in India for decades and in fact, the Malaria Research Canter in Dehli India found it performed well during trials and in 2006 a study published by the American Chemical Society concluded that catnip oil is a potent mosquito repellent, and is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. 

Soybean Oil

Works really well and according to Health Canada, there are no regulations on it.  It’s a safe alternative for you and your family. They also note that a 2% oil will repel mosquitos for about 3.5 hours and will guard against black flies for about 8 hours. 

Bug Zappers 

Don’t waste your money. They track and kill all kinds of bugs most of which are not mosquitoes. Bees and other bugs are essential to the health of the planet and even the health of your own garden

DIY Mosquito repellent Planter  

This is a simple and fun way to use plants to deter mosquitoes. This planer was designed by my husband Bodhi and has been a HUGE hit here on The Eco Hub. 

You can find all of the ingredients for the recipe at Mountain Rose Herbs


DIY Natural Bug Spray Recipe


Print Recipe
Natural Bug Spray You Can Make At Home
This homemade bug spray is easy to make and super effective too!
a bottle of bug spray in a garden
a bottle of bug spray in a garden
  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Pour into an empty clean spray bottle.
  2. Shake well before use, then spray directly onto the skin. Make sure you reapply every few hours.
  3. Make sure you do a patch test on a small area of your arm first.


a bottle of DIY bug spray sitting in a garden


The DIY recipes on this website are based on my own experiences. I am not a trained chemist, cleaning specialist, or skincare expert. The DIY recipes shared on this website haven’t been tested in a lab. Information about my products or recipes hasn’t been evaluated by Health Canada. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a doctor or specialist and use your discretion, based on your own research, when making homemade products.

Candice Batista

Candice Batista is an award winning Environmental Journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets, where she has used her background in environmental studies and media & communications to produce and report on various environmental and climate issues for primarily television and digital audiences including Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Weather Network, CityTV, Rogers Television, The Pet Network, iChannel, and CTV, where she is currently the National Eco Expert for the stations number 1 daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
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