Why Natural Bug Repellent Is the Better Choice for Your Home

By Ashley Ess in Thinking Sustainably

We’ve all dealt with pesky bugs and insects in and around our homes. The first defense when these unwelcome critters appear is usually heading to the store and buying repellent.

The problem is that most bug sprays are rife with poison. So how do you avoid those nasty chemicals?

Natural bug repellent is an option. But don’t worry if you can’t find natural bug spray at your local store—you can quickly and easily make natural DIY bug repellent at home.

Why Go Natural?

Most bug sprays and repellents contain insecticides and pesticides. Because the purpose of these chemicals is to kill living organisms, their effect trickles down to more than just the creepy crawlies that invade your property. These chemicals are also released into the environment and can have a negative effect on the “good” insects. They’re potentially harmful to children and pets as well, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Keeping your family away from these concoctions is a wise idea, as research points to the possible carcinogenic properties of both the active and inert ingredients in common bug sprays. Sprays applied outside of the home can also be tracked inside. The residue can collect on toys, furniture, and carpets—and possibly remain for years.

DIY Bug Repellent

You may be surprised at how effective natural alternatives to chemical bug repellents can be. The point of natural bug repellent is to do just that—repel bugs instead of kill them. When you divert bugs away from the inside and perimeter of your home, you’re far less likely to attract those pesky offenders and even less likely to need to kill them.

There are a variety of different natural DIY bug repellent formulas that you can create at home and keep on hand. Be sure to have a spray bottle, a jar, and perhaps a shaker bottle for powdered formulas. It’s also a good rule of thumb to keep not only the inside of your house clean, but the outside should be free of critter hiding places, too.

Here are a few recipes and the bugs they aim to repel:

  • Cockroaches: For occasional cockroaches, clove oil is a deterrent. Simply place drops of clove oil where cockroaches are likely to congregate. Alternatively, you can place whole cloves and Epsom salt on a small plate under the sink and in cabinets.
  • Ants: Sprinkle coffee grounds around your property to potentially keep ants away. The strong smell blocks them from finding food in your home.
  • Wasps: These can be difficult to get rid of. If you see any wasp nests, you’ll want to call on an expert to deal with them, especially if there’s an allergic member of your family. But if you want to prevent wasps from invading your yard in the first place, try planting citronella, eucalyptus, and mint. These plants all have repellent properties. For extra wasp-deterrent effects, use their essential oils. Simply sprinkle the oils around your property or add 15 drops of each oil to a spray bottle of water. Apply to eaves and other areas wasps can build nests.
    Mint leaves
  • Spiders: Spiders hate peppermint and lemon, which is all the more reason to have these oils on hand. Since spiders’ taste buds are on their feet, applying essential oils of peppermint and lemon to your home entryways is a great defense. Add 15 drops of each oil to a spray bottle and apply to doorways, windowsills, foundation cracks, and other entry points.

The Almighty Ingredient


Keep in mind that most bugs dislike the taste and smell of vinegar. When essential oils aren’t an option, mixing one part vinegar to one part water can act as a repellent for most little beasties.

General bug repellent made with essential oils can be quite effective and also make your home smell delightful. There are numerous helpful recipes via One Good Thing, as well. The key is to try a few to see what works. Once you find that perfect recipe, you’ll never go back to using chemical sprays!

Do you have a favorite natural bug repellent recipe? Share it with us on Twitter!

Image sources: Wikimedia Commons| Wikimedia Commons | Pixabay

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Switching to natural bug repellent is a good choice to avoid the toxic chemicals in mainstream bug sprays. Rest easy knowing that homemade bug sprays using essential oils and herbs can be quite effective at deterring pests from your home, with no need to use dangerous pesticides.