Creativity Gear

Homemade natural tick and mosquito repellent

Always being bitten by mosquito’s and awake for hours while trying to sleep, itching myself until bleeding and ever so often on the search for any kind of repellent.

Ticks are usually seen quick enough by my eye for detail but it happens one or two stick into me for a day.

John, a friend who start cycling in tick infested Europe asked me how I get along with ticks. I’ll keep this post short and not scientific, but a few very basic tips on how to avoid ticks and mosquito’s is what I would like to share, as it may help you too. The recipe follows below.

  • Wear long sleeves and a long pair of trousers as soon as you get into camp, preferable tuck the end of the trousers in your socks.
  • Don’t place your sleeping bag on the grass or tent to air. Keep zippers of the tent closed.
  • Ticks are on the ground and in the trees, they jump and like dark warm places. Your crotch, armpits, hairy parts in general are favorite.
  • Check yourself every morning just before leaving camp and don’t ignore to check every itchy spot.
  • There is a vaccine against tick born disease, it comes in 3 shots.

So, I asked John what he does against ticks and he gave me a link to a natural recipe consisting of essential oils. I explored this a bit deeper, not much, but enough to find a recipe where a mosquito repellent is easily made as well. Like me, you may have these oils already at home.

As for mosquito’s, I sometimes take vitamin B1 and apparently garlic helps to ward them off too. Having an overall strong health, being well fed and energetic at all times is a plus but hard to maintain when on a prolonged tour.

Why do I choose natural repellent made from expensive essential oil?

I’ll give it a try

I think stuff ready-made is less natural than homemade. I believe homemade is always more natural than something you buy as a ready-to-use-product. I hope to make a larger batch so I won’t need to search for it abroad. Besides, I think it is cheaper in the end. I also choose homemade repellent made from natural oils over using a lot of DEET, which is toxic. It just doesn’t add to a healthy lifestyle, or so I like to believe.

I covered the bottles with black paper
I covered the bottles with black paper

This is what you need:

Against ticks: rose geranium, juniper, rosewood, thyme, grapefruit, oregano

Against mosquitos: citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, lavender, tea tree

  • A bottle
  • A dropper to count the drops of oil and a syringe for measurements
  • Witch hazel or vodka (witch hazel is hamamelis)
  • Distilled or boiled water

How to make essential oil repellent against mosquito’s (makes 120 ml/4 ounces)

60 ml/2 ounces distilled or boiled water

45 ml/1.5 ounces witch hazel or vodka (I didn’t know it, but vodka is odorless)

30 drops citronella essential oil

25 drops eucalyptus essential oil

15 drops tea tree essential oil

I use the oils mentioned above. Make sure to use about 50 to 75 drops of oils in a combination you like.

How to make essential oil repellent against ticks (makes 120 ml/4 ounces)

60 ml/2 ounces distilled or boiled water

45 ml/1.5 ounces witch hazel or vodka

75 drops rose geranium essential oil

Additional effective ingredients include: neem oil, soybean oil, vodka, garlic and vanilla extract. I used vodka instead of witch hazel as the witch hazel I ordered was without alcohol.

Using a 120 ml/4 ounce clean spray bottle, fill it with 2 ounces of distilled or boiled water. Add 45 ml/1.5 ounce of witch hazel or vodka, then about 50 to 75 drops of essential oils, any combination of the above oils should work. If you want to add more varieties of oils, just add less of each oil you are adding in, if you wish for it to be less strong of a mixture, just add less drops. You just want be sure to keep the total percentage of essential oils under 15% for safety.

Shake well. Spray onto exposed skin and/or clothing, avoiding eyes and mouth. Reapply every 2 hours, or as needed. Store in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight.

Remember, you don’t want to fill the bottle completely full, so there is room to shake the mixture each time, which is necessary as the essential oils do not dissolve in the water and will therefore separate.

I visited this (Dutch) webshop to order witch hazel (alcohol based) and flacons

At this (Dutch) address I got rose geranium oil, to be sure I got pelargonium capitatum x radens, a species of rose geranium, and not rose geranium graveolens, the source of the essential oil.

A bit more info, not necessary to read for the homemade natural tick and mosquito repellent

In aromatherapy, geranium oil is used to treat acne, sore throat, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Often women use this oil due to its rosy smell and its beneficial effect on menstruation and menopause. The essential oil can also uplift mood, lessen fatigue, and promote emotional wellness.

Geranium oil also functions to reduce pain and inflammation. Its antiseptic properties can help speed up the healing of wounds and treat a variety of skin problems, such as burns, frostbite, fungal infections, athlete’s foot, and eczema. Hemorrhoids can also be treated with the use of geranium oil.

Unfortunately, I bought double doses of essential oil. One bottle each is enough.
Unfortunately, I bought double doses of essential oil. One bottle each is enough.

As the photo shows, I use white plastic bottles

To avoid deterioration and protect the aromatic and therapeutic properties of your essential oils, store them in amber or cobalt blue bottles. Dark glass such as amber or cobalt helps to keep out deteriorating sunlight. It is best not to store essential oils in clear glass bottles. Clear glass bottles are not harmful to essential oils, but clear glass does not protect the oils from damaging sunlight. In comparison, you may have noticed that most bottled beer typically is packaged in amber (brown) glass bottles to help protect the contents from exposure to light. Except for certain situations that most often pertain for bulk oil purchases, avoid purchasing or storing pure essential oils in plastic bottles as the essential oil will eat at the plastic, and the essential oil will become ruined over a short period of time.

So, I  use plastic bottles to hold essential oils. Is that okay? Undiluted essential oils should not be stored in plastic containers, as some properties in many essential oils will break down the plastic, But essential oils can be stored in plastic bottles and containers for several months if the oils are diluted with a carrier oil and/or water base.

I choose plastic over glass as it is less heavy. I found it harder to find glass bottles with a 120 ml capacity and a spray cap. I am not worried about light deteriorating as the bottle s are kept in the panniers.

Find more on this website for finding the recipe of homemade natural tick and mosquito repellent.

I was curious about witch hazel, a bit more about that

Witch hazel is an astringent anti-inflammatory compound and is an element of many commercial healthcare products, known also as hamamelis.

It is mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care (a hydrosol is the product of the process of steam distillation). It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent. It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, aftershave applications, ingrown nails, to prevent sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites, poison-ivy, and as a treatment for hemorrhoids.

The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in English wiche, from the old English Old wice, meaning “pliant” or “bendable”.

By Cindy

Years of traveling brought me many different insights, philosophies and countries I needed to be (over 90 in total). I lived in Pakistan, went over 15 times to India and when I stopped cycling the world, that was after 50.000 kilometer through 45 countries, I met Geo. Together we now try to be more self-sustainable, grow our own food and live off-grid. I now juggle with the logistics of being an old-fashioned housewife, cook and creative artist loving the outdoors. The pouches I create are for sale on

3 replies on “Homemade natural tick and mosquito repellent”

Thanks for this….but tell me,have you actually tried them to see if they are effective? I mean,do they work?
I have used citronella several times which does work a bit, but the mossis seem to get used to it then it stops working. Although I found the citronella candles worked better…But cant exactly carry candles with us!


Hi Ian,

I have not tried it myself, no…. but I will soon. I am a very curious as a friend who made this tick oil says it works well for him. And he tested it on his body and on a crawling tick.

I have used citronella oil myself and the mosquito’s did not really start to fled. When there were loads of mosquito’s (river side of Danube) the only thing which helped was DEET with a high percentage. I found the spiral incense works well for mosquito’s too, but will try my own oils soon and tell you more. I really hope they work because I have loads of oil now ; )

I have good hopes though!


Hi Ian,

I am in Brazil and often covered with mosquito’s. I feel that when I spray they still come but seem to bite slower somehow? But it is not effective to keep them away. I am covered in mosquito bites, and real nasty ones. It seems that I am allergic to them and the bites swell and start pulsating. So…. I got a local commercial chemical lotion now, see how that works?


Don't just stop here, I appreciate your thoughts too : )

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