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Homemade All Natural Bug Spray

Homemade All Natural Bug Repellant Spray

Summer is here…which unfortunately also means those pesky little bug critters we all know and love are also here!  Insect bites can not only be itchy and uncomfortable, but also sometimes dangerous.  With the increased amounts of rain we’ve been having in Toronto this summer, the mosquito and bug population has also been on the rise.  Do you know how to protect yourselves and loved ones against getting bitten?


Many experts recommend using bug sprays that contain a chemical DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to repel insects; however, DEET has recently received mixed reviews and research, due to the harsh chemicals that are the base of this product.  For example, according to Scientific American:

Duke University pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia, in studies on rats, found that frequent and prolonged DEET exposure led to diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes, and concluded that humans should stay away from products containing it. But other studies have shown that while a few people have sensitivity to DEET applications, most are unaffected when they use DEET products on a sporadic basis according to the instructions on the label.”


Our advice is to take this – and any similar – research, with a grain of salt.  Most bug sprays purchased in stores contain DEET, which although may be effective for preventing bug bites, may also have some negative side effects when it comes to your health.


While we recommend discussing your options with your family physician to find the best option suited for you and your personal health concerns, here are some natural alternatives to using products with DEET:

  • Eliminate standing water in and around your property to deter insect breeding grounds
  • Use citronella oils and candles to deter insects while you are sitting outdoors
  • Wear long sleeved shirt and pants when possible to cover up any exposed skin
  • Use a mosquito net when cottaging or camping, to avoid getting bitten while you sleep
  • Try using an all-natural bug spray if you prefer insect deterrents that are applied to your body and/or clothing

Using an all-natural alternative to buy spray reduces the risk of potential side effects from using bug sprays containing hazardous chemicals.  This natural solution not only smells great, but is also easy to make and inexpensive!  The recipe we are about to share with you has many other health benefits as well, including: being a natural skin nourisher and healing agent, as well as being a natural anti-microbial spray.  In addition, the apple cider vinegar base used in this spray helps to restore proper pH levels to your skin, resulting in smoother skin, reduced oiliness and decreased appearance of fine lines; plus, the beta-carotene in the vinegar also helps to fight future skin damage!  The other main component of this spray, witch hazel, also has healthy skin benefits, including combatting acne, skin sores, bruises, redness, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, cosmetic concerns such as cracked skin, razor burn, sun damage, and more!  What’s not to love?!


Homemade Bug Spray Recipe:


  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup witch hazel
  • 10 drops each of: citronella, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass essential oils
  • one 8-ounce glass spray bottle


  1. Mix the apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and all essential oils in the 8-ounce glass spray bottle.
  2. Shake well before use.
  3. Spray or mist over clothing and/or body parts that you wish to protect from bug bites, avoiding your eyes and mouth. *Spray is for external use only*


Author: Dr. Katie Au

B.Sc. Kin (Hons), D.C., D.Ac, CSCS, FCCRS©, ART®, GT®

Toronto Chiropractor | Acupuncture Practitioner | Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


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