DIY Natural Bug Repellant Perfume

By Rachel Sarnoff

Tis the season for bugs. And although I happen to love the scent of citronella, others—I’m not naming names, but we could be married—hate it. But So I whipped up a new recipe for DIY natural bug repellant perfume that employs three of my favorite scents, with no citronella in sight. Want to try? I’ll show you how!

I wore this DIY Natural Bug Repellant Perfume to an outdoor barbecue recently. I smelled amazing—DH thought so, too. And I didn’t get one mosquito bite!

Before we get to the good stuff, I just have to say that I helped spread the word about the Environmental Working Group’s launch of their Bug Repellant Report last year and I recognize how important DEET can be in areas where Lyme disease and West Nile Virus are prevalent. But because the incidences of those illnesses are low in my area, I decided to stick with natural bug repellants, and began researching alternatives to citronella-based sprays.

Stephanie Moram of Good Girl Gone Green recommends a daily dose of B1 vitamins during bug season as a natural bug repellant—a prescription that I saw repeated many times as I did further research. I checked my multivitamin—I’m still taking those prenatals!—and found that it contains 10 milligrams, nearly 600% times the recommended daily intake. Check!

Lavender essential oil is apparently a skeeter deterrent and natural bug repellant, according to Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse. I checked that recommendation in several tropical travel forums, where I also found nods to coconut (used in the Caribbean) and vanilla (Costa Rica) essential oils, too. And Aromaflage,an amazing-looking new natural bug repellant and perfume that uses those and other amazing scents to repel bugs, is racking up online testimonials about how great it works.

So I decided to put my favorites together in my very own recipe for Mommy Greenest Bug Repellant Perfume. Just as with my DIY Spring Perfume, you’ll need a clean spray bottle, preferably one made of dark blue or brown glass to block UV rays that degrade the scent. You’ll also need:

Food-grade organic vanilla extract (make sure it’s sugar-free)

Food-grade organic coconut extract (ditto)

USDA Certified Organic Essential Oil of Lavender

Now here’s the recipe. My measurements are based on a small bottle, and are proportional. If you have a larger bottle, you could double the initial amount of essential oil, or you could mix based on the recipe below and add more adjust the oils to how you like the scent.

Start with 20 drops Lavender oil.
Fill one-half of the remaining space in the bottle with coconut extract.
Fill the remaining space in the bottle with vanilla extract.
Shake and spritz, focusing on areas where skin is exposed.

After whipping up a bottle in Diane Mizota’s kitchen (check out the video), I gave my magical bug repelling perfume a whirl at an outdoor barbecue recently. I smelled amazing—if I do say so myself! (DH thought so, too.) And I didn’t get one mosquito bite, although they were in the air. You have to be pretty liberal with spraying and rubbing in the bug repellant—and repeating every few hours—but I think this mix really works (although maybe it’s the B1 vitamins). If you live in an area where there’s no threat of West Nile Virus or Lyme disease, give it a whirl. Let me know how this yummy (to us, not skeeters) scent works for you!

Rachel SarnoffAbout The Author

Better known as “Mommy Greenest,” Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant, sustainability advocate and former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World who was Editor in Chief of Children magazine—before she had three of her own. Rachel was featured in Los Angeles and Lucky magazines and appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, to share advice about healthier living with less judgement. The author of The Big List of Things That Suck and partner at Give + Take swap shop in Los Angeles, Rachel also publishes, where “you shouldn’t have to be a scientist to raise healthy kids.” Follow her and at




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