Homemade Bug Repellent: Easy Recipe + Ingredients

Making homemade mosquito repellent sounds like a lot of work. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, you can make DIY bug balm in your kitchen in just about 20 minutes!

Even better, most homemade insect salves are all-natural, made from a base of vegetable oils and plant butters, mixed with essential oils. And making your own only requires a few kitchen supplies like a double boiler, whisk and storage container. (These small plastic jars are great!)

Ready to make your own? Here’s a super easy bug repellent recipe, as well as some ingredient options so you can experiment.

Does homemade bug repellent really work?

Yes! Thanks to the repelling properties of natural ingredients like lemon eucalyptus oil and rosemary oil, the bug balm you make in your kitchen can be just as effective as those loaded with chemicals bought at the store. Plus, the moisturizing oils, like shea butter, will help to hydrate the skin, an added bonus.

There’s even lots of research to back up these claims. Here are some fast facts about natural ingredients and essential oils for bug repellents:

  • Lemon eucalyptus oil – This extract from the lemon eucalyptus tree is recommended by the CDC as an insect repellent.
  • Thyme oil – Studies have shown this to be an effective mosquito deterrent.

  • Lemongrass and cinnamon bark – A blend of these two extracts worked to repel insects both outdoors and in the lab, according to a 2005 study.

  • Peppermint oil – One study found that peppermint oil – in addition to smelling great – is also an effective repellent against mosquitos.
  • Citrus/citronella oils – Citronella is effective against kissing bugs, according to one study.

For our Easy Bug Balm Recipe, you’ll need just soybean oil, shea butter, beeswax pastilles, lemon eucalyptus oil, and rosemary, thyme and clove oils.

How to Make Homemade Bug Repellent

One of the easiest ways to make a bug balm at home is with an oil-and-butter base, mixed with mosquito-repelling ingredients and essential oils.

What Supplies Do You Need?

To make DIY bug balms, you’ll need some simple household tools, including:

  • Double boiler (or use a heat-proof bowl over a standard pot)
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups/spoons

In addition, you’ll need storage containers for your completed ointments. Here’s a few options you can use: For small sample sizes, use these 0.25oz white cosmetic jars. If you’d like a larger container, opt for these wide-mouth 3.5oz plastic jars with lids.


Easy Bug Balm Recipe

Make your own bug balm in just 20 minutes with this super easy mosquito repellent recipe. Requires only a few easy-to-find ingredients and a double boiler!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 6 1oz jars / 24 0.25oz cosmetic jars
Quick Tip: Quadruple the recipe if you’ll be filling larger 3.5oz jars


  • 1/2 cup soybean oil
  • 1/4 cup shea butter
  • 3 Tbsp beeswax pastilles (or carnauba wax)
  • 24 drops lemon eucalyptus oil
  • 10 drops rosemary oil
  • 10 drops thyme oil
  • 10 drops clove oil

Add 1-2 inches of water to the lower half of the double boiler, return the top half and bring water to a boil.

Add soybean oil and shea butter. Melt and whisk. Once melted, whisk in the beeswax pastilles and melt until the mixture has a smooth, even consistency.  

Remove mixture from heat. Let mixture cool for 3-5 minutes.

Add and mix in essential oils. Use your whisk to incorporate fully.

Fill each plastic jar with bug balm, but be sure the mixture is cool enough to handle comfortably. Let stand for 24 hours and tighten on lids.


Thanks for Reading!

Follow the MHO Containers blog for more great cosmetics recipes and DIY inspiration. You might also want to see our latest: DIY Lip Balm Recipe.