Spending time outside during the summer is great – except for the bugs! Bug spray seems like a good idea, but many contain harsh chemicals and toxins that we don't really want to put on our skin, on our pets or around our gardens. Using simple household products and some natural essential oils, you can make your own insect repellent that is both safe and effective.
How to Make Non-Toxic Bug Spray for Your Family, Pets and Garden
1) For your family:
Fill a small glass spray bottle (about 8 ounces) halfway with witch hazel and then fill nearly to the top with distilled water. Add 10 drops each of the following essential oils: tea tree, eucalyptus, mint and citronella. Then add 10 more drops of another fragrant essential oil, such as lavender, rosemary, geranium or lemongrass (whatever smells best to you). Just shake well and spray to keep those nasty bugs away!
2) For your dog:
Peel several lemons, limes and/or oranges and add the peels to a pot on the stove. Add enough water to cover the peels and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool completely. Discard the peels and put the remaining citrusy water into a spray bottle. Add 25 drops of essential oil for every 8 ounces of citrusy water – I like to use a combination of mint, lavender and eucalyptus. To repel mosquitos, shake the mixture well and spray on your dogs' backs (where they can't lick it off) before you take them outside – just be sure not to get it in their eyes!
3) For your garden:
In a small spray bottle, mix 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons mild oil (such as vegetable), 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper. Shake well and apply to plants and small bushes to control aphids.
Have a great, bug-free summer!
Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.