Homemade Natural Outdoor Spray Recipe

A super safe, all-natural, non-toxic outdoor spray for the whole family! No DEET or other nasty chemicals in sight – as pure as the outdoors you’ll be able to enjoy with this spray on!

DIY Natural Outdoor Spray to ENJOY Being Outside!

One of the biggest differences in moving from the northeast USA back to south this past summer besides the sweltering heat, were the killer mosquitos. Yikes! Gabriel’s legs looked like he got in a fight with a red marker and it’s obvious who won! Until I started using my homemade outdoor spray and my homemade anti-itch rub, the itching would wake him up at night as he scratched until he bled, risking infection and misery.

My son's legs covered in mosquito bites

Gabe’s legs – the mild version as it got much worse!

I had to do something to take care of it, or risk not play outside at all (and that’s like blasphemy in this family!), but I just couldn’t bring myself to spray him with Off! Insect Repellent, even though I know it works. Why? Maybe because one of the first lines on the back of the spray can is “Hazardous to Humans.” Then, “Use sparingly on small children.” “After returning inside, wash affected skin with soap and water.” Not to mention that it contains DEET, which according to Wikipedia, can be harmful to humans if exposure is great.

“The Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University states that “Everglades National Park employees having extensive DEET exposure were more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function than were lesser exposed co-workers”. 

When used as directed, products containing between 10% to 30% DEET have been found by The American Academy of Pediatrics to be safe to use on children as well as adults but recommends that DEET not be used on infants less than two months old.”

Interestingly, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does state that it is safe for humans with no age limit if used according to the directions. Well, there are quite a lot of directions, several of which are almost impossible to follow with small, rambunctious children –

  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
  • Do not allow young children to apply this product.

I’ve always hated the smell and stickiness of insect repellent anyway, so it was high time to make my own, that is safe and all natural. (For more information on the ingredients of Off!, check out the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database where it gets a 6 out of 10 for toxicity.)

So, to find ingredients of what actually works, I scoured the web and found many different recipes and created my own recipe inspired by ones from some of my favorite sites, Frugally Sustainable and Wellness Mama.

DIY Outdoor Spray - Stay bite-free and enjoy the outdoors!

What I love about this recipe is that it’s powered by essential oils – so it has a wonderful woodsy smell, even after you shower and wash it off. The oils and Vitamin E Oil really leave our skin so soft, so it moisturizes while keeping bugs away (where to buy high quality essential oils).

I found this recipe wasn’t effective until it was 10% essential oils. Gabriel and I both got bitten until I added more oils. So, if you make a smaller or bigger batch, make sure it is 10% essential oils.

The Recipe

  • 1 4 ounce glass bottle (where to buy)
  • (a little less than) 4 oz. Witch Hazel (or 1/2 cup) (where to buy) or water and a pinch of salt
    • Note: I like the alcohol-free variety – almost all witch hazel is sold as a tonic and contains 14% alcohol, so read the ingredients carefully if you don’t want alcohol. Witch Hazel is a natural alcohol.
  • 1 teaspoon Purification Essential Oil Blend (where to buy)
  • 1 teaspoon Citronella, Lavender or Cedarwood Essential Oil (where to buy) (not pictured, I used 2 teaspoons Purification for this batch)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E Oil
    • Note: for added moisturizing and skin protection, but it is not essential to keep the bugs away

Mix all the ingredients in your four ounce glass spray bottle.

If using water, put the pinch of salt at the bottom of the bottle first. Add your essential oils to it and let sit for one minute or until it dissolves. add the water. The salt disperses the oil so it spreads throughout the water. Witch hazel does the same thing, so you can use either!

Shake before using (the oils separate from the witch hazel) and apply liberally. I find I usually have to rub it in. Do not spray on your face (the oils will irritate the eyes), instead, spray on your hands and rub onto your face and neck. This recipe should last a few months, however, that all depends on how often it is used and how much you apply. We use it daily and apply it liberally, so it has lasted us about a month and a half.

DIY Bug Spray Label - Free PrintableThe Free Printable Label – Click Here

How to print: Make sure to unclick, Print to Fill Page, and print with Avery Labels 80508 – round scallops (where to buy). Or, just print it like I did on plain paper cut out a circle or a square from the label and tape on. Either will do!

See all my essential oil recipes here!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

Print Friendly
About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Great recipe! I love how simple it is. Thanks so much for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

  2. I love this recipe. I have never liked the idea of spraying all that deet filled spray all over my kids. I like this recipe, –lots of natural ingredients in it. = )

    Following you from the hop by the way…lol


  3. those bottles are so cute!! where did you find them?

  4. Thank you so much for this the mosquitoes love me and I am looking forward to making this and using it as I live in Arizona where they have a longer cycle due to the warmer climate.

  5. I will definitely be trying this! Thank you so very much.

  6. Fran Galvin says:

    I highlighted the recipe and clicked selection on my printer but, what I got was a printout with the tiniest letters that I can’t read and the line along the side of the page (which was not highlighted) ran on for 2 pages. Isn’t there an easier way to get these recipes?

    • Hi Fran! I have a little print button at the bottom of every post. It’s down with the “Share the Love” buttons and there’s an icon for printing. It’s awesome because you can delete the parts of the page you don’t want to print!

  7. I can’t wait to try this!! We have a lot of Mosquitos this year and I just can’t use the stuff w/deet anymore! I discovered your blog last week and have been reading it ever since! I ordered from Plant Therapy and used your coupon (thank you!!). Now I’m waiting for my Amazon order for the rest of the ingredients. I’ll be making this and a few other things!

    • Rock on, Sandra! I love this bug spray and have been using it a bunch this summer. I order from Amazon ALL the time – love the ease and convenience as opposed to driving all over town from store to store. Let me know if you need any help!

  8. Hi Sara!

    I started following your blog a little over a year ago when I started to crochet and am in love with the ribbed baby cocoon pattern! Recently, I started digging around in the green living section and have made the roll on deodorant, chapstick, and body butter and will be trying the shampoo/body wash soon! I just made the bug repellent and had a question…I’m pregnant and was wondering if this is safe to use while pregnant?? I know that some of those oils in the bug off blend are safe but others say to avoid during pregnancy. But DEET isn’t something I want to be putting on my body while pregnant either. I just wanted to see what your thoughts were 🙂 Thanks for your time!

  9. Could you use lavender witch hazel?

  10. Tara Snodden says:

    Curious did you have any problem with spotting on your clothing from the oils?

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge