Well Being

Bug Off! Making Homemade Insect Repellent Is Really, Really Easy

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homemade bug repellent recipe

If you're getting ready to pack up and head to the great outdoors for Memorial Day, don't forget the bug spray. But many commercial versions contain DEET and other eye-irritating, skin-bothering, toxic-when-swallowed ingredients that you may not want to slather on your skin. Instead, opt for a greener version with an easy-to-mix homemade insect repellent.

A relatively warm winter means that mosquito season is already in full-swing, and to protect yourself and your friends and family from illness (like West Nile virus) and discomfort (because bug bites are the worst), you'll need more than some light layers. But here's the cool thing that I learned when my mother sent me to a feminist, eco-friendly hippie camp for girls when I was a teenager: pesticide, toxin-free bug spray is actually really easy to make yourself.

Basically, all you need is a carrier or some sort (usually an alcohol or an oil), and some essential oils that ward off bugs. That's pretty much all. And for measurements, the best rule of thumb is that 10-15% of your mixture should be essential oil, and the rest either carrier or water. Which means if you're mixing up a big bottle, you'll be using a lot of oils. Instead, you really just need enough of the carrier make about four ounces (use a six or eight ounce spray bottle, and only fill it about half way), and then add between 10 and 20 drops of the essential oils of your choice. From there, the tricky part–which isn't even that tricky–is picking out which oils and carrier you want.

Flip through the gallery to see the various oils and carriers you can choose from, as well as some tips for good combinations. And, as always, if we've left anything out, let us know in the comments.

Image: Phil Date via Shutterstock

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