44 Responses to “Crunchy Kids : Shoo! Spray Homemade Insect Repellent”


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  1. I have visions of neighborhood cats following me around and nipping at my catnip oil-dabbed ankles! Seriously, when I mentioned the catnip oil to my husband, he said “I bet rosemary or lavender would work too then”. I scrolled down and there was the rosemary! He’s so proud of himself right now. Thank you for this post! Very very useful stuff. I was just thinking the other day about making citronella candles for the patio… this sounds way easier!

    • Crunchy Betty

      I hear tell lavender DOES work, too (your hubby’s so smart). I left it out because I keep droning on and on about lavender. Thought I’d give it a rest for a while. Or at least until the next blog post. Heh.

      I’ve never made my own candles. You should try it (with citronella essential oil) and blog it. I know it’s not food, but I wanna see how you did it!

      • My family is from Haiti. And my great aunt told me that, they used to burn the citronella leaves to keep bugs away. So making a candle probably would definitely work.

        • @Lisa… That is really good to know! Now I’m definitely going to put it on my (so very) long list of Summer projects. Thanks!

  2. Great Post!! I can’t wait to try this out. I haven’t made a new order from Mountain Rose yet, but I have some of the ingredients, I might just use the Citronella or Peppermint. Thanks!

    • Crunchy Betty

      That’s my favorite part about making your own stuff. You can pick and choose what you have, buy what you decide is worth it, and figure out your own stuff! Took me a LONG time to be comfortable with it, but once I kept trying random things that worked (!), I realized it’s just not that big of a deal …

      Glad you liked it. Definitely let me know if they work. I’d especially like a non-Colorado opinion on plain ole peppermint oil!

      • SO I thought I had essential oil Eucalyptus and Peppermint, but its actually just the leaves. Do you think I can try to steep them overnight and use the water? hmm, lol, I think I need to improvise.

  3. I just need the citronella oil and I’ll be set to make your secret formula. It’s good to know about the peppermint oil too.
    We don’t have too many mosquitos here in AZ, but when I visited Maine and the Bahamas, I was eaten alive.

  4. Great post!! Living in India means a mortal combat with mosquitos :) Trying this right away!

    • Crunchy Betty

      So interesting! I read several people mention the lemongrass thing, to the point I just assumed it was something everyone did in India. You’ll have to let me know if it works!

      • LOL..Not all Indians practice that :D We use easier methods like the liquidator mosquito repellant :) But yes, there are quite a few unique and superb Indian ways of dealing with bugs. Must write a post about it some time soon!

  5. Jan

    I see Pavithra’s India and raise her one Northern-ish Canada.
    It’s on! LOL
    Knew most of these, but catnip? wow. cool!

  6. WOW! Awesome post! I’m in Texas with a toddler who must be filet mignon to skeeters!

    • Crunchy Betty

      Sorry for the delay in reply. I just learned a VERY important lesson from Akismet – sometimes it stinks at weeding out spam, because lovely comments like yours get trapped somewhere. Fixed and lesson learned.

      I just tried it on my nephew a while ago, and it seemed to really, really work. Or, the horrible sauna-weather here in Kansas City has the mosquitoes too lazy to move. I’m not sure which.

      Let me know what you think if you try it!

  7. I have kids and in Australia Mozzies are part and parcel of life. Less so in Winter so I have a few months to make up this spray but I love the sound of it. Much nicer than the expensive and foul smelling aerogard that every family keeps in their car and house here. Better for you too I am thinking!

    • Crunchy Betty

      This actually smells a little like bug spray (not sure what aerogard smells like), just not as “chemical-y.” Fiance keeps walking in and going “Who’s wearing the bug spray?” He never remembers …

  8. We’ve got lavender, rosemary, and citronella and several types of mint growing in our backyard and it really does keep the mosquitos at bay. I need to make some of your bug spray.
    I seriously love your site!

    • Crunchy Betty

      You are so, so lucky! All you people with all this awesome stuff just growing willy-nilly all around you. I’m moving in. Period.

  9. Great info for bug repelling without checmicals! FOund you at redhead riters blog!

    • Crunchy Betty

      Yep. Fiance even says it smells like bugspray, but just knowing it doesn’t have anything yucky in it makes me feel SO much better about both using it and putting it on my precious little nephews!

  10. I am going to have to try the bug spray recipe. We have been having a horrible time with mosquitoes here lately. The wet humid weather has been wonderful and created a bumper crop of those nasty blood suckers. But I really do not like using the chemically laden sprays, I also don’t like all the bug bites so hopefully this will be the perfect solution.

    • Crunchy Betty

      One thing I forgot to mention – lavender essential oil. If you have any of that, you could try it, too. I’m in Kansas City at this very moment, and I have to say, I forgot how good we have it in Colorado. No humidity, and no mosquitoes. My poor nephew – it’s like he was one big mosquito bite before we got here. Now, hopefully no more! At least, no more yet.

      Let me know how it works for you if you try it! I’d love to hear.

  11. Kim

    Rose Geranium oil is great for repelling ticks.

  12. LNZ

    Well I find that 91% rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle works. Anything with an exoskeleton will go crunchy within 30 seconds. Spray and watch (watching optional). anything 70% or higher works. but for a 20 second or less terminator, alcohol works. It kills, disinfects, and it’s cheaper than buying oils. although the oils may smell nicer…

  13. Katdoeshair

    Ok, I’ve loved several of your blog posts on random crunchy things. But when you referenced True Blood, you had me at “gentleman vampire”! LOL Love your tips! Quick question… On another similar recipe they said you had to use a metal or glass container. Do you know anything about this?

  14. Ashley

    I love all your tips..Thank you so much for having this blog!!

  15. Buglady55

    I want to know where the cool looking beetle is from!!

  16. Kika

    Just made this but used lemongrass oil instead of citronella since that is what I had on hand. Now to wait for mosquito season to test it out:)

  17. Pink Billows

    I made this with peppermint, eucalyptus, Rosemary and rose Geranium. It smelled alright till I added the ACV. I didn’t see too many mosquitoes this past weekend so I don’t know how effective it is at repelling bugs but my friends weren’t shy about telling me they kept their distance from me because of the smell. What exactly does the ACV here do? I found other recipes online without it.

  18. Bethanne

    I’m excited to try this out! I was curious what’s your process of steeping your catnip in soybean oil? I looked to buy catnip essential oil and it’s pretty pricey, but I have the herb growing, so I was trying to find a better option.

  19. valleygirl

    Hm, so far I have a spray bottle of plain water with added equal drops of lavender and tea tree oil. No reason for it, just what I had on hand. Watched fireworks without probs the other night but perhaps the bugs weren’t as bad as usual. I’ll say mine was def easier with less ingredients but like I said, I had no rhyme or reason for it and am not sure if the solution will remain so in plain water after a few days.

  20. Maria

    We are surrounded by mosquitos right now, so much that we’ve just been staying inside. I refuse to spray DEET on my young children. I gathered all the supplies and made this homemade spray with much hope of success! Well, I’m quite disappointed. I sprayed myself liberally, then went outside in the middle of the day to water my garden. I was swarmed and attacked and came inside after 15 minutes with about 6-8 new bites. Back inside we go and will stay. :(

  21. Laurie

    I just started reading your blog when I found it a couple of weeks ago. One thing that I just can’t figure out no matter how hard I think about it is…..what is the ‘crunchy’ for? What does it mean or refer to?

    • Jess @ Crunchy Hot Mama

      Crunchy is often liken to ‘crunchy granola’ which is what people think ‘treehuggers’ eat. And treehuggers are usually associated to being ‘natural, green, free, etc.’ So when you hear of someone as being crunchy, they are likely trying to find a better alternative to products & methods out there-using what mother nature provides. A lot of the time it saves you $ and has a better impact on the person and planet by doing things ‘crunchy.’ Does that help?

  22. If you look at the ingredients of most “natural bug sprays” citronella is a small amount of the active ingredient. The majority is lemon eucalyptus, a special kind of eucalyptus, it is far more effective than citronella, but citronella has name recognition, so that is what you see on the label. I am growing lemon eucalyptus bush I bought off ebay (seeds). I rub a leaf on me when I go outside in super mosquito infested areas, and they leave me alone for hours. I used to be a magnet for them, works great!

  23. Carin Haeger

    I have used Vodka (cheap Vodka) to make my bug spray! It really works!!

  24. Anna Daugherty

    I love this webpage(blog?)…. I just love it.
    You may consider using pine needle oil. very effective stuff right there, but some might comment you “smell like pinesol” and you might be tempted to smack them. It works as a great combination with cedar, eucalyptus, and citronella though, maybe a bit of lemongrass?? I have this huge 8 oz bottle of neem oil that I’m thinking of combining in to give it a little kick. I did make some last year with olive oil as a base, but I wanted to make a less oily version this year with witch hazel, so I’m worried the neem won’t mix in very well. Oh well, trial and error has been the best learning tool so far.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Crunchy Betty, Lisa-Marie . Lisa-Marie said: Love my daily walks in the woods but getting attacked by bugs is not fun. Glad @crunchybetty wrote this article http://bit.ly/92yA3O #31dbbb […]

  2. […] toxic pesticides, and DEET.  Fortunately, homemade bug spray is pretty easy to make.  I found this very effective recipe on Crunchy Betty.  The ingredients are simple and safe – apple cider vinegar, vodka (or rubbing alcohol), […]