I don’t know about you but mosquitoes absolutely love my children and I! During the hot summer months, I can’t go outside without getting bitten at least once. It’s incredibly frustrating and what’s more frustrating is not having many good options to combat this problem. I have always disliked putting typical deet bug spray on my skin even before I was genuinely conscious about the chemicals in the products I used. The science on deet isn’t completely clear in regards to how safe it is. Long story short, I decided to do a little research and create my own home spray that is both safe and effective.
Herbs You Can Use: Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Sage, Lavender, Peppermint, Thyme, Citronella, Rosemary or Basil. (Proven to have a scent that deters mosquitoes.) There are others but these are my personal favorites due to having more rare adverse reactions. Tea Tree and Neem oil are two well known examples that have been known to cause skin irritation.
Carrier Oils You Can Use: Almond Oil (favorite), Olive Oil, Hemp Oil and Sunflower Oil (Really any oil that is appropriate to put on the skin that you are not allergic to.)
Directions: Cut up your plants into small pieces to expose as much plant oil surface area as possible. I would use at least three fresh herbs of the above mentioned mosquito deterring herbs. Add your plant material to a jar that can be sealed. Any size is ok but I prefer to do smaller batches to keep it more fresh of approximately a pint. Whatever size jar you’re using, you want to fill it up half way with your herbs and then fill in your carrier oil up to the top of the jar for basically a measurement of 1:2. You want to make sure your plant material is completely covered to prevent mold growth. Seal and set aside in a sunny location for at least two weeks to allow maximum absorption. Shake once or twice every day or so. After two weeks, strain out your herbs and add to a pump bottle. Your insect repellent is ready to use! Keep in mind, it’s an oil and should only be applied and rubbed onto bare skin and could possibly stain clothing.
Other Options and Tips: If you’d rather have a spritz that can be applied to clothing, try a mixture of 50% vodka and 50% distilled water instead of an oil. Believe it or not, the smell of vodka itself dissipates very quickly and is masked by the herbs for the most part anyway. You could also purchase and add the above herbal essential oils to your favorite lotion and apply the scents that way. No matter which method, herbs or carriers you use, you may want to do a sensitivity test on a small patch of you or your child’s skin to ensure you don’t have any allergies. Keeping these plants in pots around your house or home could help cut down on the amount of mosquitoes in your living space as well. Of course, watch for standing pools of water around your house that could become breeding grounds. After a good rain, I walk around the house and dump out any water collections.