This Not That: Bug Repellent That’s NOT Filled With Chemicals

this not that diy bug repellant

With beautiful blue skies and tulips come mosquitoes and flies. However, what if we told you that you could enjoy the lovely spring weather without the threat of bug bites? Of course, there are your store-bought repellants but who wants all those icky chemicals on their skin? We decided to make our very own natural alternatives. To test these two natural, make-at-home bug repellent recipes, my husband and I ate dinner outside one evening. He was wearing pants and a long-sleeved shirt, but no bug spray; I wore shorts, a sweatshirt, and the home remedies. He was bitten. Not a single bug even approached me. Win!

Take a look at these all-natural bug bite remedies if you have already been bitten!

this not that diy bug repellant
The first concoction is simple, using only vanilla and water.


  1. Mix together equal parts vanilla and water. I used a teaspoon of each, and had some repellent left over.
  2. If you have a spray bottle, you can spray the mix directly onto your skin. If you don’t have a spray bottle handy, simply rub onto your skin.


  • You may not know that vanilla contains antioxidants, which can help to relieve and protect skin.
  • Vanilla works to ward off mosquitos through its potent smell, which mosquitos don’t like, but which smells great to us. No more reeking of DEET!
  • A side benefit of vanilla is that it may help to reduce anxiety, according to a study performed by a New York hospital on patients who experienced claustrophobia. The scent of vanilla helped these patients feel calmer, although no one is quite sure how this works.



  • Vanilla may irritate the skin of some, so use with caution, and test a small area of skin first before applying the mix all over your skin.
  • Vanilla extract can be more expensive than traditional bug sprays; you may want to save that little bottle for chocolate chip cookies!
  • Vanilla supposedly only works for 30 to 45 minutes, so if you’re going to be outside all day, you’ll need to reapply often.


this not that diy bug repellant 2

The second recipe uses a mixture of water and fresh or dried herbs.


  1. Add ½ water and a combination of herbs to a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. You can use basil, any kind of mint, rosemary, lavender, or cloves, adding up to a few tablespoons of herbs. I used dried basil and the contents of one peppermint tea bag. Get creative with whatever works best on your skin, and always be careful when trying out new herbs.
  2. Let the mixture cool.
  3. Apply to your skin, either by rubbing it on or with a spray bottle.


  • Water and a few tablespoons of herbs will likely cost you less than purchasing bug spray.
  • You can save the herbal mixture in the refrigerator for several months; make one batch at the start of the summer and then use it all summer long.
  • You can adapt this recipe with whatever herbs you have on hand; no need to worry about missing any ingredients.


  • Although vanilla was supposedly a possible irritant, it felt fine on my skin. However, my skin felt slightly itchy after using the herb mix.
  • The herb repellent takes longer to make than the vanilla repellent.
  • Like the vanilla mix, you’ll probably need to reapply the herb mix often to keep the bugs at bay.

Verdict: Both of the mixtures worked well to repel bugs! This DIY test ultimately comes down to what works best for your skin. I preferred the vanilla mix, so that is what I will use in the future, but I would recommend testing out each remedy to discover what works best for you.

How do you repel those bugs & mosquitoes?

For more recipes and DIY, take a look at these features.

All images via Thinkstock


  1. It’s interesting that vanilla would be considered a repellant considering I am so drawn to the scent. That being said, hey, I wouldn’t mind bathing myself in vanilla! 😉


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here