Friday, September 20, 2013

DIY Insect Repellant

I've been making my own laundry soap, cleaners, and antibacterial hand sanitizers ever since we moved aboard Dos Libras. Some of the recipes use common ingredients found in the home, while others are ways of "stretching" cleaners to reduce cost.  I love having control of, or simply being more aware of what chemicals are around us, and I've found another way that I can save some money and remove a harsh chemical, DEET, from our immediate environment.

I began poking around on the Internet after reading a short article on The Boat Galley's website. I've picked up tons of invaluable tips from Carolyn, of which this is just the latest.  She cleared up an ongoing mystery for us...  What is making the Tervis tumblers and the instrument screens on the boat turn cloudy?  It's the DEET!!!  With the expensive instruments we have aboard, who wants to risk using DEET, which can ruin the screens? Not me!

I began collecting information from multiple websites and have compiled a list of common denominators to make my own concoction to repel mosquitos and other insects.  We will soon be traveling along the ICW through remote areas where WE are the only game in town for untold numbers of biting bugs.  The last thing I want is to become lunch for some pesky mosquito.  I'm sharing my recipe now, in case I don't survive the blood letting should the blend fail me...

8 oz. Spray bottle (I got mine from Sally's Beauty Supply)
4 oz. Witch Hazel (Walmart offers a more economical price than the specialty stores)
4 oz. Water
1/2 tsp. Glycerin
15 drops each of the following essential oils:  Tea Tree, Citronella, Pure Madagascar Vanilla, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, geranium, and Lavender.
Note:  I've added Geranium to the mix for no-see-ums!

The oils stay suspended for quite a while, but you should always shake well to make sure they are distributed evenly before applying.  Use normal care in application as you would any insect spray.  Spray a small amount on your skin and test for 24 hours to make sure you are not adversely sensitive to any of the ingredients.  Then spray on and spread by hand.  Be sure not to get it in your eyes.

Disclaimer:  I am not an expert and can't give you advice, nor am I advocating that this is safe for you.  It is what I have chosen and will update this post as to the efficacy of the brew as soon as the opportunity presents itself.


  1. Geraniol (geranium oil) is also a common and effective ingredient - especially for the sand gnats common in the Hilton Head/Savannah/Jacksonville area! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks Jennifer, I had seen that ingredient pop up on the various websites. However, my husband was starting to frown as I loaded the other stuff into the basket.... I had to stop somewhere. Maybe I'll pick some up along the way. I can always add it. I'll keep an eye out for it. Maybe I can sneak some into the basket when we make our final provisioning run. :)

  2. Thanks for the info ..really great.

  3. If you add a splash of denatured alcohol, the oils will stay in suspension much longer.