Homemade insect repellent recipe

How do you feel about slathering yourself in super-strong insect repellent? Now, what if you had to do that for extended periods of time? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a gentler alternative, you could make yourself, using ingredients you probably have in your bathroom cabinet?

There are some places, like the tropics, or where there are particularly nasty mozzie borne illnesses or heavy tick infestations, where I’m happy to become a walking cloud of DEET (for short periods), but for the rest of time, I choose a more subtle approach.

This homemade insect repellent recipe is nothing fancy and smells like my bathroom growing up. It reminds me of the times Mum would Dettol my grazed knees (ouch!) or dip a needle into the golden liquid before trying to shift a stubborn splinter or encourage me as an early teen to use baby oil as a moisturiser. Bless.

Dettol, Eucalyptus oil and baby oil. Ingredients for homemade insect repellent.
Equal parts Dettol (thanks Mum), Eucalyptus Oil and Baby Oil. A tiny re-usable pump bottle helps save weight and bulk in my backpack.
Table of Contents

DIY Insect Repellent

Equal parts:

  • 100% Eucalyptus or Tea Tree oil
  • Dettol
  • Baby oil

To cut down on the weight of carrying a big tube or bottle in my backpack, I use a tiny pump bottle that I found in Howards Storage. The only trick with these little guys is to never lose the teensy funnel that comes with them. A tiny Nalgene bottle will also do the trick.

If the mineral-based baby oil isn’t your thing, there’s loads of other combo’s out there that use essential oils – some even use vodka! These are less likely to be sitting in your cupboard (well, maybe the vodka is), but could end up smelling nicer and offer a softer alternative. A simple Google search will have you reaching for the witch hazel in no time.

The benefits of the ingredients above are that they’re cheap, as opposed to good quality essential oils, which can set you back if you’re starting from scratch. Oils such as witch hazel, citronella, lavender and even good ol’ apple cider vinegar appear in some recipes. Lotsa reader Ian, reports that he has even been known to use it as a make-shift deodorant when entering civilisation after a long time in the bush!

Whilst this recipe apparently works a treat with those gnatty little NZ sandflies (amongst other things) it can cause issues with sunburn. Those halcyon days of coating our bodies in coconut (or baby) oil at the beach are long gone, so make sure you use wisely and don’t forget sunscreen, along with the usual protections of long sleeves and hats.

If making your own just seems too hard, check out my Aussie affiliates over at Biome or Nourished Life who have a stack of ethical, gentle and natural insect repellents to help keep the nasties away for days.

Q: Do you have a successful recipe you’d be happy to add to this post? Drop me a line and let me know.

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started LotsaFreshAir.com to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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