Summer heat means there’s probably an onslaught of flying critters hanging around your house. Mosquitos, house flies, fruit flies, it’s a wonder something so small can be such a nuisance!
It’s tempting to reach for a bottle of powerful store-bought repellent, but they’re loaded with chemicals that are toxic to the environment and yourself. Studies have shown prolonged exposure to DEET – one of the most commonly used chemicals in pesticides – can be damaging to the nervous system. If you’re trying to keep to pests at bay – but in a natural way – try making this all-natural insect repellent. It’s even safe for the canine or feline members of your family.
Distilled Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a natural astringent derived from the flowering plant. It has a nice cooling effect that will also help relieve any preexisting bug bites. It’ll give the base of our bug spray recipe an extra kick.
Commonly used as an Italian cooking herb, this “queen of herbs” gives off a wonderfully sweet aroma. Turns out, it’s an aroma that mosquitos and flies can’t stand. Basil contains four of the naturally occurring volatile compounds that repel mosquitoes. When flying pests get too close to the scent, their senses are hindered, adequately deferring them from you as a potential donor.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is a hearty garden plant that is best known for its signature, minty aroma. It’s been a staple in folk medicine for generations for its wide variety of medicinal uses. It can be used to remove ticks and repel all kinds of unwanted guests. In addition to our bug spray, you can dab a cotton ball with some peppermint oil and leave it in a corner of your home to deter spiders, ants, and mosquitoes. NOTE: we’ll be using less of this oil because excessive topical use can be an irritant to the skin.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Officially a CDC-approved insect repellent, eucalyptus oil is one of the more well known of the repelling oils. A study done in the plant’s home country of Australia found that it provided more 95% protection against mosquitos for three hours. It is also commonly used to fight other common skin irritations and insect bites.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
You may not know that the common citronella component of insect repellents is actually harvested form the leaves and stems of the lemongrass plant. Of course you could probably figure it out as soon as you smelled it. Citronella is another one of those naturally occurring volatile compounds we mentioned earlier.
- Harvest and clean your basil if you’re using some that you’ve grown on your own. We’ll use about 4 – 6 ounces of big leaves and stems for the one cup of spray we’re making. Place the leaves in a glass mason jar.
- Bring some water to a boil, cover the basil with 1/2 cup of the hot water and then 1/2 cup of witch hazel. You can use cold water, but then you’ll have to let your decoction sit for a longer period of time in order to get all the medicinal properties out of the basil leaves.
- Cover your mixture and let sit. I’d recommend letting it steep for a minimum of a few hours, if you have time to leave it overnight that’s even better.
- Remove the lid, and add in your essential oils. I started with 30 drops of lemongrass and eucalyptus and 15 of peppermint. If you find you want yours more aromatic, feel free to add more. Just heed the peppermint! Other good essential oils to add could be lavender, rosemary or geranium.
- Funnel into a portable spray bottle and you’re good to go!