10 Essential Oils that Repel Insects

essential-oils-that-repel-insects

The bugs have been out for a while now. And if you’re one of those unlucky people who attracts biting insects, then finding an effective way to keep them at bay is probably a must for you. There are many insect repelling options out there, but some products- especially those made with DEET– may have a negative impact on your health. If you’d prefer to find an effective, toxin-free way of repelling insects, then essential oils may be the best answer for you. There are a number of essential oils that can keep bugs away- without the toxic side effects.

Catnip

Research done at Iowa State University found that catnip essential oil is roughly 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (source).

Cedarwood

Cedarwood essential oil is obtained from the steam distillation of pieces of cedar. It is useful for repelling flies, mosquitoes, and other pests (source).

Citronella

Citronella essential oil is an old standby as a natural insect repellent. Derived from a plant related to geraniums, this oil works by masking the scents that generally attract insects, thereby making it difficult for them to find their targets (source). It has been used as an insect repellant since 1948.

Clove

The compound eugenol is responsible for many of clove essential oil’s health benefits. Although undiluted clove essential oil can provide two to four hours of protection against mosquitoes (source), the pure oil can cause irritation on the skin. If you want to use undiluted clove oil to deter mosquitoes, put it on your clothing , rather than directly on your skin. Just be sure to check on an unnoticeable spot to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor the fabric. Putting clove oil in a diffuser can also help keep mosquitoes away.

Cloves can also deter moths and ants. Place a mesh bag with crushed cloves in areas where these critters are a problem.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a popular ingredient in natural bug repellants because it can help repel mosquitoes. This oil, diluted at 15%, can deter mosquitoes for up to three hours; when combined with vanillin, it is effective for about five hours (source). A 2010 study found that eucalyptus essential oil is also effective at deterring the sandfly (source).

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is a popular oil with a wide range of uses. While it gives off a sweet, floral scent to humans, many insects are repelled by linalool, a naturally-occurring alcohol found in lavender (source). Lavender is particularly repellant to mosquitoes, fleas, houseflies, and moths but is safe for both humans and pets. Its effectiveness is increased when combined with other essential oils, such as citronella.

Lemongrass

A relative of citronella, lemongrass has a stronger, spicier scent that many biting bugs will avoid. It is especially effective against horse flies and mosquitoes.

Patchouli

Patchouli essential oil can provide up to two hours of protection against insects (source). Many people can tolerate higher concentrations of patchouli, but even a dilution of 10% can be effective.

Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil may be refreshing and energizing for people, but mosquitoes don’t like it. This oil has been found to provide complete protection against mosquitoes for about 2.5 hours (source).

Tea Tree

Tea tree essential oil has a strong scent that keeps ants, horse flies, and other insects away.

DIY Insect Repellent

You can make your own all-natural insect repellent using essential oils:

Ingredients

* 50-60 drops essential oils (choose from any of the ones listed above)

* 4 oz. distilled water

* 4 oz. witch hazel

* 8 oz. spray bottle (glass is preferable, as essential oils can break down plastic)

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in the spray bottle, and shake gently to mix. Shake before each use, and spray on exposed skin before going outside.

Sources:

“Crafting a Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils.” Herbal Academy of New England. 18 June 2014. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/06/crafting-a-natural-bug-repellent-with-essential-oils/

Ettinger, Jill. “Smell Fantastically Natural and Repel Insects: 6 Essential Oils for Summer.” Ecosalon. 2 July 2013. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://ecosalon.com/repel-insects-6-essential-oils-for-summer/

Langton, Nicole. “Essential Oils That Repel Insects.” LiveStrong. 21 October 2013. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/117530-essential-oils-repel-insects/

Masters, Madeline. “What Kind of Bugs Does Lavender Essential Oil Repel?” SFGate. Web. 10 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/kind-bugs-lavender-essential-oil-repel-83930.html

Mercola, Joseph. “Tea Tree Oil: Three Cheers for Tea Tree Oil.” Mercola.com. Web. 30 June 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/tea-tree-oil.aspx

“Oil of Citronella General Fact Sheet.” National Pesticide Information Center. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/citronellagen.html#howwork

Schoffro Cook, Michelle. “8 Natural Mosquito Repellents.” Care2. 30 May 2013. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-natural-mosquito-repellents.html

Trongtokit Y., Rongsriyam Y., Komalamisra N., Apiwathnasorn C. “Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites.” PubMed. 19 April 2005. Web. 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16041723

Turner, Paige. “Cloves as a Repellent.” SFGate. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cloves-repellent-83624.html

Yang P., Ma Y. “Repellent effect of plant essential oils against Aedes albopictus.” PubMed. 30 December 2005. Web 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16599157

Yigzaw, Erika. “Green Cleaning: 10 Essential Oils That Naturally Repel Insects.” American College of Healthcare Sciences. 26 June 2014. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-10-essential-oils-that-naturally-repel-insects

“15 Cedarwood Uses for Wisdom and Beauty.” Dr. Axe. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/cedarwood-essential-oil/

“25 Uses for Peppermint Oil.” Dr. Axe. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/

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DIY Sanitizing Wipes

DIY Sanitizing WipesHave you ever used those disposable sanitizing wipes? They’re so handy and convenient…and, unfortunately, so wasteful, too. Not to mention frequently loaded with chemical ingredients. Wipes made by more eco-conscious companies have fewer chemicals in them, but they’re still intended to be thrown away after one use.

I’ll admit that I occasionally buy and use these wipes. As I just said, they’re convenient. But it occurred to me a while ago that there may be a better alternative. Before our kids were potty-trained, I made Reusable Diaper Wipes. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I realized that I could make my own sanitizing wipes for cleaning, too. You just need to cut up an old shirt or towel and use some Castile soap and essential oils to make a sanitizing solution for the wipes. Many essential oils have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, so they are ideal natural cleaners.


DIY Sanitizing Wipes

Supplies

Directions

  1. Add 30 drops (total) of essential oils to one cup of Castile soap. Stir gently to mix.
  2. Place the cut-up t-shirt or towel pieces in the container, and pour the soap mixture over them. Make sure all pieces are thoroughly moistened.
  3. Use on counters, walls, door knobs, or other hard surfaces that need a quick cleaning.
  4. Wash the wipes in hot water, dampen with the soap solution, and reuse.

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DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

The weather has suddenly warmed up (hooray!). Our family has been spending more time outside recently, which means that sunscreen is a must. A while back I published a post on Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen, and I have another sunscreen recipe for you today. It’s really quite easy to make your own sunscreen. So many sunscreens are loaded with synthetic chemicals, and even “natural” ones have a lot of junk in them too. When you make your own, though, you can decide exactly what goes into it. I’ve experimented with the recipe on and off for a couple of years and have chosen ingredients that provide excellent protection from the sun.

As with the Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen, the active ingredient in this recipe is zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a highly effective sunscreen that creates a physical barrier between the sun’s rays and the skin. The recipe also calls for coconut oil. In addition to being a great moisturizer, coconut  oil also has a natural SPF of about 7 (source). Aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that help nourish the skin. It’s high water content also helps cool and moisturize skin. You can also use olive or almond oil in place of the aloe vera gel. Like coconut oil, these oils both provide natural UV protection; olive oil has an SPF of about 7.5, while almond oil has an SPF of about 4.5 (source). Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals (unstable molecules) that are generated by exposure to UV rays. It also acts as a natural preservative in the sunscreen. Lavender essential oil has a natural SPF as well (source).


DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

Ingredients:
* ¼ cup virgin coconut oil
* 2-3 Tbsp aloe vera gel (may substitute olive or almond oil)
* grated beeswax (optional if you prefer thicker sunscreen)
* 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
* 5-6 drops lavender essential oil*
* 5 tsp zinc oxide

* Peppermint also provides extra SPF, but be very careful to avoid the eyes if you use it. Children under the age of 6 are frequently quite sensitive to peppermint, so you may not want to use it if you’ll be putting this sunscreen on little ones. Never use citrus essential oils; they can actually increase sensitivity to the sun.

Directions:

1. Heat coconut oil, aloe vera gel or oil, and beeswax (if using) on low until just melted and thoroughly mixed.

Melted Coconut Oil2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vitamin E oil until completely blended.

3. Carefully stir in the essential oil and then the zinc oxide.

DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen4. Pour the sunscreen into a jar, and allow it to cool. It will take an hour or so for the coconut oil to become completely solid again.

Makes about 1/2 cup. Should maintain its SPF for up to 3 months.

Caution and Tips: Zinc oxide can be hazardous to your health if inhaled. Always cover your nose and mouth with a mask or cloth while handling it. Store the sunscreen in cool place (such as a cooler) for easiest application. To increase SPF add more zinc oxide. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 1.5-2 hours.

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DIY All-Natural Air Freshener

 

DIY All-Natural Air Freshener

In my post on DIY Natural Cleaners, I talk about natural air filters, such as house plants. In addition to keeping the air in our house clean naturally, I also like to make my own air fresheners with essential oils. Air fresheners made with artificial fragrances generally contain a number of synthetic chemicals. These chemicals can cause breathing problems in some individuals. Aerosol air fresheners also release tiny droplets into the air that are easily inhaled. Some air fresheners contain phthalates, which, in addition to scenting various products, may also disrupt hormones. Air fresheners made with essential oils, on the other hand, give the air a pleasant scent without any of these unwanted side effects.

Source:

Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan

DIY All-Natural Air Freshener

Ingredients:

* Spray bottle
* Water
* Lavender, tea tree, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil

Directions:

Put the water and 10 to 20 drops of essential oil in the spray bottle, and shake gently to mix. Use anywhere the air needs freshening. Try any combination of these oils. Shake gently before each use.

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Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen

Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen

I started experimenting with making my own sunscreen a couple of years ago. Because we live at a high altitude, it is important to use sunscreen year-round, not just in the summertime. After doing quite a bit of research about sunscreens, I concluded that zinc oxide provides the best and safest protection from the sun. So I use zinc oxide as the active ingredient in this sunscreen. Olive oil has a natural SPF of about 7.5 (source), so I use an Olive Oil Lotion as the base for the sunscreen. I sometimes add Lavender Essential Oil, too, because it has a natural SPF of about 5.5 (source). Finally, I add a little bit of vitamin E oil; vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can help protect the skin from free radicals that are created as the result of exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Lavender or Unscented Olive Oil Lotion
5 tsp. zinc oxide powder
1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (optional- add to unscented lotion)

Directions:

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Store in a jar.

Coconut oil also has a natural SPF, so Coconut Hand Lotion can be used in place of the Olive Oil Lotion in this recipe.

Caution: Zinc oxide can be hazardous to your health if inhaled. Please cover your nose and mouth with a mask or cloth while handling it.

Note: Store the sunscreen in cool place (such as a cooler) for easiest application.  Sunscreen should be reapplied every 1.5-2 hours.

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How to Make Reusable Diaper Wipes

 Reusable Diaper Wipes
I confess to having been a cloth diaper drop-out. When our first baby was born, we used cloth diapers and wipes. I was thrilled that we weren’t throwing 10 or more diapers away each day. But after a while doing laundry at least every other day really started to get to me. We also live in a dry climate, and I didn’t feel good about the amount of water that we were using. Maybe that was an excuse, but, after a while, I decided to stop using cloth diapers. So we switched over to chlorine-free disposables.
Although we stopped using cloth diapers, we continued to use the cloth wipes. I had made my own by cutting up several old t-shirts. We used cloth wipes with our second child too. It seems like a small thing to use reusable wipes, and it is. But even little things can make a difference over time. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of them not sitting in a landfill right now because of that choice. I realize that there would be a lot less diapers in the landfill now, too, had we stuck with cloth. But we also used a lot less water over those years, so there is a trade off. Another thing that I liked about the cloth wipes is that I knew exactly what is in the solution that I used to dampen them. If you’d like to try it, it is easy to make reusable wipes. Here’s what to do.

Reusable Diaper Wipes

What You Need

* old t-shirts or receiving blankets

* glass jar

* distilled water

* liquid Castile soap

* vitamin E oil (optional)

* lavender or tea tree oil

* container to store your wipes in

What To Do

1. First, cut up a couple of (clean) old t-shirts or receiving blankets into squares. About 4″ by 4″ is good.
2. Next, make the solution to wet them. I always made mine in a 32 oz. glass jar. I filled it with distilled water almost to the top and then added 2 or 3 oz. of liquid Castile soap. (I used Verefina lavender hand soap or Verefina unscented hand soap.) Sometimes I added about 5 drops of vitamin E oil to make it more moisturizing. Finally, I added 1 or 2 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oils (see notes below about essential oils). Both of these oils help prevent diaper rash.
3. Shake the solution gently to mix, and pour enough of it over your wipes to just dampen them. Keep the wipes in a sealed container. The remaining solution can be stored in the refrigerator.
I generally used my reusable wipes with wet diapers and threw them in with the hot water laundry.
Caution: Tea tree oil should be avoided on babies under six months. When using it on older babies, use only 1 drop to begin with, and make sure your baby doesn’t show any signs of a reaction to it.
Note: If you use lavender soap, there’s no need to add more lavender essential oil.