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  • Melissa Ieraci

Summer Essentials: DIY Family-Friendly Bug Repellent

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Most of my favorite family memories happened while summer BBQ-ing, cottaging or camping up in the Algonquins! As Canadians we are used to short, but sweet summers, and tend to make the most of what we have to work with. That means plenty of hours spent outdoors when we can!

A lot of things need to be accounted for when spending time in nature and protecting ourselves from bug bites with an effective repellent, is on of them. Unfortunately, most products available at drug stores can be harsh and full of chemicals, especially for your younger ones and those with delicate skin, that’s why I recommend being an “Ingredient Detective”! The Environmental Working Group’s Website, SkinDeep at, is a great resources where you can look up products and ingredients and determine whether they make the cut for your family.

Another option is to make your own! The method below is easy, cost effective and only contains a few ingredients, some of which you probably already have at home.

Natural DIY Bug Repellent

This bug repellent is safe enough to use on babies 3-months and older. When it comes to essential oils, the concentration used will determine safety. Stick to 1-2 drops in 1-2 tablespoons of liquid or carrier oil. Test in a small area first for any sensitivity. It is also recommended to spray clothing with the solution. If you are making this for adult use, increase to 5-10 drops for each EO.

The Key ingredients are:

1. Citronella is the key ingredient in this blend. It is a natural bug repellent and insecticide and can repel mosquitoes up to a few feet away. It is also a natural antiseptic.

2. Lavender naturally repels insects and it’s effectiveness has been comparable to DEET, a commercial bug repellent that is neurotoxic. Lavender is also anti-inflammatory and can offer relief to itchy skin.

3. Cerdarwood also possess insecticidal activity against adult mosquitoes and household


4. Tea Tree is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral essential oil. It is effective in repelling and killing ticks and mites.

DIY Family-Friendly Bug Repellent

[Downloadable version] Yields 100 ml of Bug Repelling Solution 1-2 drop citronella EO 1-2 Drop cedarwood EO 1-2 drop lavender EO 1-2 drop Tea tree 45 ml witch hazel 45 ml grapeseed or olive oil

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a 100 ml glass (preferred) spray bottle and shake well.

Shake well before each use and always avoid eye area.

Reapply every 2 hrs.

It is important to use good quality essential oils to ensure effectiveness and minimal skin reactions. Choose ones that are water distilled instead of alcohol extracted.

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