This time of year – especially with the humidity here in DC – it’s not uncommon to get eaten up by mosquitoes during our evening dinners on the porch (or walking to work & hiking). For some reason it seems I get more bites than most. So I’ve decided to take care of that problem – naturally! When we were in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama, last fall for a week, the caretakers of the property we stayed on had an endless supply of essential oils. Everything we used on the island had to be biodegradable since any products went into the ocean or land immediately after use. They were kind enough to offer up some of their oils so we could make a homemade bug spray that we all used daily. I cannot stand the feel, smell, or thought of conventional, chemical-laden DEET-based bug sprays, so a natural repellent was just what we needed.

I’m tapping into those concoctions we used in Bocas to get me through the rest of the summer because I’d like to eat my dinner al fresco without swatting at my legs the entire time! Using lavender, lemongrass, tea tree, and a little peppermint oil, witch hazel, vegetable glycerin, and filtered water, this recipe is excellent to use daily, safe for small children, and is really inexpensive.

The essential oils naturally repel bugs, while also having antibacterial qualities; witch hazel has wonderful antibacterial properties as well; and the vegetable glycerin adds a tiny bit of viscosity & moisture to the product. Always keep your bath & beauty products in a cool, dark area when storing to ensure they last a long while – especially those products that may not have added preservatives.


All Natural Insect Repellent

  • Essential oils: lemongrass, lavender, tea tree, peppermint; other suggestions are rosemary, citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, clove
  • Witch hazel
  • Vegetable glycerin [although this is optional]
  • Filtered water


Fill spray bottle 1/2 full with filtered water- I used two small 4 oz bottles so I could take one with me everywhere I go. Next, add 1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin to each bottle, and fill the witch hazel almost to the top of each. Then, add your essential oils, keeping the total drops of oils to about 40 – it’s up to your discretion to divide the scents and such that you’d like for the mixture. I find that tea tree & lavender both work very well for repelling bugs. The more essential oils you add, too, the stronger the smell. Top off the bottle and shake well! 

I’d suggest giving the bottle a good shake before each application to ensure the ingredients are properly mixed. I love playing around with different scents and essential oil combinations, so I’m always curious – what are your faves? Comment below & let me know!

Keep glowin’,