Simple, Smell Good, DIY Bug Repellant

Simple, Smell Good, DIY Bug Repellant

A multitude of natural and do-it-yourself bug repellants are scattered over the Internet. I discovered this one while being swarmed by really annoying and painful Mosquitos. This quick and easy bug repellant has only 3 ingredients, smells great and works. It is safe for adults (not sure about children, please research before using) and, of course is pesticide free. I found this recipe effective against mosquitoes and horse flies in my area in Eastern Pennsylvania.

One of the ingredients I use is Frankincense, a gift fit for a king, given by the Magi to the infant Jesus according to Gospel of Matthew (2:11). Frankincense is a resin from a scraggly looking plant of the Boswellia species, and has been used thousands of years in the Mid-East. It is known to healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research published in 2012 in Letters of Applied Microbiology, has also confirmed a synergistic antibiotic effect when combined with another Magi gift, myrrh (de Rapper, Van Vuuren, Kamatou, viljoen, & Dagne, 2012). In this study frankincense and myrrh oils were effective against Cryptococcus and Pseudomonas in vitro experiments. This is not important as a bug repellant but it is nice that it has antibacterial properties when spraying it on the skin.

Frankincense is not that sustainable for much use at this time in the US. The shrub is only grown in two places and under great care.[1] Frankincense is one of many essential oils that have bug repellant properties but it was one that I had on hand when I put this together.

Another more sustainable bug repellent essential oil is Cedar and can be used in place of Frankincense in this recipe. Cedar is also known for it’s healing properties and it has a similar pleasant, woodsy smell like Frankincense.

The second ingredient that I had on hand was Geranium essential oil. It has a lovely floral almost rose like, and is also effective as a repellant. This oil is one of a few that repel wasps noted in Pest Management Science (Zhang, Schneidmiller, & Hoover, 2013). If you do not have Geranium oil you can use Citronella instead but it’s strong citrus smell is almost chemical like. I do not enjoy it as well but it will work.


2 ounce spray bottle

24 drops of Geranium essential oil

12 drops of Frankincense (or cedar) essential oil

Clean water to fill 2 ounce bottle

Shake well prior to each use. Spray skin and clothing to repel bugs. Re-spray periodically if sweating.


Works Cited

de Rapper, S., Van Vuuren, S., Kamatou, G., viljoen, A., & Dagne, E. (2012). The additive and synergistic antimicrobial effects of select frankincense and myrrh oils – a combination from the pharaonic pharmacopoeia. Letters In Applied Microbiology [serial online] , 54 (4), 352-358.

Zhang, Q., Schneidmiller, R., & Hoover, D. (2013). Essential oils and their compositions as spatial repellents for pestiferous social wasps. . Pest Management Science (serial online). , 69 (4), 542-552.

[1] See “Cultivation of Boswellia: Sacred Trees of Frankincense,” by Jason Eslamieh

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