Natural Insect Repellent Recipies: Homemade Insect Repellent for the Outdoors

natural insect repellent recipies

Whether camping, hiking or biking, mosquitoes, ticks, deer flies and other types of insects are our companions in the outdoors. We all attract these irritating pests at different rates depending on all types of factors including our body chemistry and metabolism. Likewise, insect repellents that work for one person may not work as effectively – or at all – for another.  With that in mind, here are some popular and well-tested natural insect repellents homemade with natural ingredients that have worked for some people. Try them one at a time to find out what works for you.

Natural Insect Repellent Using Natural Oils


  • 4 drops of Thyme
  • 8 drops of Lemongrass
  • 4 drops of Lavender
  • 4 drops of Peppermint

How to Use

  • Put a few drops on a cotton ball and place it near your head at night.
  • Put couple on drops on several strips of paper and hang them around your tent.

Ward Off Ticks in Infested Areas

This recipe is from Wellness Mama who says it works “incredibly well” and that she uses it whenever she’s going to be outdoors in tick infested areas. The brew smells bad when it’s wet but the odor disappears when it dries. It takes awhile to ferment so plan to make it well in advance of any outdoor adventure.


  • One 32-ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons each of dried sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme and mint
  • Quart-size glass jar with airtight lid


  1. Put Apple Cider Vinegar and herbs in the glass jar
  2. Screw the lid on tightly. Shake well daily for 2-3 weeks
  3. After 2-3 weeks strain out the herbs and store the liquid in spray bottles in the refrigerator
  4. To use, dilute to one-half strength with water and apply as needed

Chigger Repellent Made with Essential Oils

This recipe is specifically for chiggers but will work for other insects as well. Ideally, you would start using this mixture several days before exposure to a chigger-infested area to get the oils in your body.


Use one of the following oils:

  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • Sage Essential Oil
  • Thyme Essential Oil
  • Tea Tree of Melaleuca alternifolia Essential Oil


Add 3-5 drops of an essential oil to a teaspoon of base oil such as V-6 oil or jojoba oil. Apply around ankles.

Alternative Directions

Alternatively, make a chigger spray by mixing 5 five drops of oil with two teaspoons of witch hazel and 4 tablespoons of water in a glass spray bottle.

Trap Wasps Inside an Empty Plastic Soda Bottle


  • Two cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 liquid dish soap


  1. Cut the top one third off the soda bottle.
  2. Mix apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water in the bottom section of the soda bottle
  3. Add dish soap
  4. Insert the top section of the bottle into the bottom section
  5. Set the trap at the edge of your campsite

How and Why It Works

Apple cider vinegar and sugar mixture attracts the wasps. They won’t be able to find their way out of the bottle through the small bottle neck. The dish soap helps kill the wasps faster by eliminating essential oils in their bodies.

Sage and Lemon Balm on a Campfire Prevents Mosquitos

Sage and lemon balm added to a campfire wards off mosquitos and has a pleasant smell.


What works for other people might not work for you. Kate Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship tested 16 different commercial bug sprays and concluded that, “Unfortunately, even if I had mosquitos swarming daily or could put my arm in a glass box full of biting chiggers, what work for me and my family may not work for you and yours.”

Have you had personal experience with one of these natural insect repellents? Do you have a recipe that works for you that was not included here. Tell Savage Camper in the Comments box below and we’ll pass it along to other to other readers who will appreciate your help using natural ingredients to be insect-free in the outdoors.


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