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Our Picks for Natural Bug Repellent

Natural and homemade insect repellants to keep the creepy-crawlies away

By Sophia McDonald Bennett

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Camping, hiking, picnicking and other outdoor activities are always favorite ways to while away summer and fall days. The downside to all that time outside? It gives mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other bugs ample time to sting, bite and otherwise injure the skin.

Many insect repellents contain DEET or other chemicals that people would prefer not to put on their bodies. Why not look for a natural bug repellent, or protect your skin with a homemade mosquito repellent? Here are some of our favorite natural, DEET-free products, as well as ones to try making in your home kitchen.

Store-Bought Natural Insect Repellants

Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

This repellant spray contains a wide variety of compounds known to work as a natural bug repellent for the skin, including citronella, rosemary, lemon eucalyptus and lemongrass. A bonus ingredient is soybean oil, which repels bugs and helps skin stay soft.

Quantum Buzz Away Extreme

Another DEET-free, natural bug repellant for the skin, Buzz Away’s spray counts cedarwood oil, peppermint oil and lemongrass oil among its active ingredients to repel pesky, biting insects. 

All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor

Environmentally friendly and non-irritating to kids’ sensitive skin, this spray relies on the power of natural ingredients (including cedar, citronella and geranium) to naturally repel bugs from the skin.

Maggie’s Farm Natural Insect Repellant

Available in a convenient spray bottle, this formula absorbs quickly, leaving skin feeling smooth and not sticky. It’s made with natural plant oils, including citronella, clove, lemongrass and soybean, to keep away mosquitos, ticks and flies.

Homemade Mosquito Repellants

Lavender: Want to relax while you repel bugs? Try a homemade mosquito repellant made with lavender oil, which naturally keeps pests away—it’s easy! Stir around 30 drops of pure lavender oil into distilled water, pour into a spray bottle and spritz away.

Lemon eucalyptus: Healthline recommends making a homemade mosquito repellant with lemon eucalyptus oil. Mix one part oil with 10 parts sunflower oil or witch hazel and apply to the skin. (The mixture should not be used on kids 3 and under.)

Apple cider vinegar: Not a fan of witch hazel? Try making a homemade mosquito repellant with apple cider vinegar instead. Combine the vinegar with an equal amount of water. Then, add about 40 drops of one or more of the essential oils known to act as a natural bug repellent. Experiment with the combination you find most pleasing and get ready to enjoy the outdoors.

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