Bug Off: Essential Oil Sprays to Keep the Critters Away

Let’s all imagine ourselves at our favorite outdoor picnic spot. The sun warms our skin with its glow, the breeze trickles through our hair, and the sounds of laughter echo in our ears and warm our hearts.


And then you hear it. The familiar buzzzzzzing of the local pests. A black blur begins dive-bombing your spread of deliciousness and your swat reflex kicks in.

Swat. Smack. Swipe.

A tiny crawling sensation distracts you from your mission and before you can locate the source, PINCH! You’ve had your blood sucked by the local lady mosquito working to feed her babies. But before you can wonder how long before the itch sets in…

Swat. Smack. Swipe. Ow. Rub.

You see the storm cloud of itty-bitty bugs looping in your direction until you’ve moved into a choreographed swat-whoosh to combat two of the pests while nursing the increasingly itchy-sore spot on your arm. A full on attack has begun and that’s not the end of it.

Swat. Whoosh. Scratch.

The ants come marching one-by-one…acrobatically climbing their way onto your picnic blanket, but before you can react, your daughter screams, “A BEEEEEEE!” and leaps into your arms, ruining your anti-pest dance and sending a plate of veggies flying into the grass. Before you can react to that catastrophe, you suddenly realize there is a tiny black dot clinging to her eyebrow.

Please let it be dirt, please let it be dirt.

Swat. Whoosh. Scratch. Freeze!

It’s a tick.

Day ruined.

Bring on the horrible imaginings of Lyme disease and compound that by the huge welts from bug bites beginning to swell up on your arms and the arms of your children.


Relax, my people. You know I have some essential oil solutions for you to ward off the masses of impending doom from your outdoor (and indoor) life. So, get ready to create your own arsenal against the pests of the season!


Just when you thought Peppermint wasn’t amazing enough, I am here to tell you that bugs and rodents of all varieties HATE the scent of Peppermint. But most importantly, TICKS hate the smell of Peppermint. If you live in an area where ticks threaten to pinch and infect you with Lyme disease, you MUST get your Peppermint on as soon as possible. And, for the first time EVER, I will warn AGAINST using a dōTERRA blend. For some reason, ticks seem to like the scent of dōTERRA TerraShield® Outdoor Blend. Luckily, Peppermint seems to repel most every bug or rodent kind, so you should be protected in a cloud of menthol goodness.

Now, if you have littles and are concerned about the menthol content’s affect on them, you can opt to use Spearmint or Cedarwood Essential Oil instead. The Peppermint content in the BUG OFF! SPRAY recommended below, however, is small after shaking the bottle before spritzing it on. Use your own judgment here, but I know lots of mamas who will spritz their littles’ shoes and clothes instead of on the skin. The Lemongrass in the recipe cuts the minty freshness of the Peppermint just a bit and helps to repel as well.

Bug Off Spray

Serves 4

    • 10 drops Peppermint, Spearmint, or Cedarwood Essential Oil
    • 5 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
    • ¾ cup distilled water or witch hazel
    • 2 oz. glass spray bottle

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle and close. Shake vigorously and spritz for protection! Remember to shake before each application.

You can also use this spray around your house to protect against creepy-crawlies of all varieties. At the beginning of spring, I go around and spray the screens on my windows since we like to throw our windows open sometimes, and around the doorframes and entryways to the house. Inside, I spritz in corners and along the windowsills to deter any itty-bitty trying to find a cool place to relax.

Another bonus is that it helps with the odoriffic scents of shoes that begin to develop when feet sweat during this season. Spritz in the shoes and on the flip-flops and sandals to deter the odor and the pests!


For those of you not in tick-filled areas, you can rely on the specially-formulated TerraShield® Outdoor Blend from dōTERRA to protect you. Diffuse it, apply it, spritz it…USE IT! Take it with you everywhere from camping trips to hikes to simply playing outside. It protects against environmental pests and keeps you happy during the warm seasons. But in case it isn’t protecting you enough, you can always add some Peppermint to the mix and create your own special blend.

And while we’re talking about dōTERRA blends, you can also find some success with diffusing Purify® Cleansing Blend to keep the bugs away due to its citronella content. I wouldn’t apply this directly to the skin because it is made from several citrus oils, but as far as protection of your home and air, this can be a quick way to create a shield around your environment. (And you can always add some Peppermint to this as well!)


If you are wary about the above options or you just want something that smells a bit different, here are several other essential oils that have been known to repel insects:

    • Lavender
    • Thyme
    • Citronella
    • Clove
    • Rosemary
    • Eucalyptus (high menthol content – be careful with littles)


There are several other ways to keep bugs from frequenting your domicile, but my favorite solution is to grow natural herbs. Plant Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Citronella, and Mint to create an amazing outdoor aroma, provide you with fresh and dried herbs for your cooking and cleaning needs, and keep those pesky critters away.


If you have kiddos who have sensitive skin or dislike the idea of being sunscreened and then spritzed, let me offer some cool ideas for keeping them protected.

    • Place a drop of essential oil on a leather bracelet and have them wear as an accessory.
    • Buy them an oil-diffusing necklace to wear as jewelry and choose one of the oils above.
    • Add mint into their shampoo or hairspray, or sell the Bug Off! Spray as “Hair Perfume” that you apply as you fix their hair in the morning.
    • Spritz it in their hairbrushes.
    • Spray on clothes and shoes.
    • Add some mint to your laundry detergent or to your wool dryer balls to give the clothes a scent.
    • Create a DIY fabric scrap bracelet by braiding old strips of fabric together and applying a drop of oil before they go outside.
    • Have them wear a bandanna hairband or pirate scarf when they play outside and spritz with the spray.

No matter how you apply, it is a necessary step in providing your family with outdoor protection. Even if you don’t have skin sensitivities, react horribly to bites, or fear Lyme disease, the essential oil solutions above will allow you to enjoy your outdoor adventures without the spasmodic-jerk choreography of bug prevention.





Don’t be a victim of your environment.  Heal your body from the inside out and the outside in with essential oils!

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