Bugs, Burns, and Babes, oh my!

Mature woman laughing in front of flowering shrub.

Essential oils have gone mainstream. And they aren’t just for women – they’re for everybody. While essential oils are in fact a cornerstone of creating a calm ambiance, they are also great for many other practical applications you might not know about. From removing bathroom mildew to making DIY deodorant, from natural insect repellents to treating sunburns, explore the ways essential oils can be used as alternatives to everyday products. 

Uses for Bugs

Some essential oils have natural insect repellent properties and can be used as a non-toxic alternative to bug sprays sold. Essential oils do not contain DEET or other chemicals that must be regulated by the EPA. The compounds in essential oils work by blocking the receptors that mosquitoes and other pests need to find food sources around them. 

DIY Bug Spray Recipe

For children (or adults) who have sensitivities to the chemicals in traditional sprays, an essential oil blend can bring relief without the irritation. The pleasant and herbal aromas of essential oils offer protection and often smell significantly better than DEET containing options.

So, which is the best essential oil for repelling bugs? The answer depends partly on which bugs need to be repelled. 

Ant Repellent

Whenever there is food outside, you can count on the ants to come marching. To keep these critters off the picnic table and away from dinner, place a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil on the table and anywhere else there’s food. 

This natural repellent isn’t just for outdoor meals, either. The next time there’s ant infestation in your kitchen, put away the pesticides and spray peppermint oil on your baseboards, instead. 

Mosquito Repellent

Our all-purpose essential oil bug spray is great for repelling mosquitoes, but if there are limited ingredients on hand and mosquitos are the main concern, Tea Tree Essential Oil will work on its own as a natural insect repellent. Dilute the oil first in a carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba oil) and apply directly to the skin before heading outdoors. 

Citronella Essential Oil is another tried and true option for repelling mosquitoes. Like tea tree oil, citronella can be diluted and applied as a lotion to the skin. Keep in mind that citronella should be reapplied often (every half hour) to remain effective, so it’s not the best option for hikes or camping where mosquitoes need to be repelled for longer periods of time. This is because citronella compounds are volatile once exposed to the air, and they lose their repellent properties more quickly than a chemical like DEET or even other essential oils. Citronella is a great option for evenings on the back porch, where you may only need protection for a brief time.

For open spaces or backyard parties, try diffusing citronella to ward off mosquitos in the general area. This technique offers protection to a larger area and over a longer period of time. The diffuser will keep a consistent concentration of citronella molecules circulating in the air, and because it will keep replenishing the citronella oil, there is no need to worry about dwindling effectiveness.

Horse Fly and Tick Repellent

Few things are more irritating than horse flies. With a buzz that can drive anybody crazy, and a bite to top it off, horse flies can quickly make the outdoors miserable. Luckily, geranium oil will repel these annoying pests. Place a few drops on clothing to keep horse flies away and enjoy being outside.

Geranium Essential Oil is perhaps even more effective against ticks. A 2013 study tested the effectiveness of various geranium oils and demonstrated that this essential oil can repel up to 90% of ticks. Preventing tick bites is just as important as preventing mosquito bites, since ticks are known carriers of many illnesses, including lyme disease.

To take advantage of this natural repellant, the same method can be used on socks before heading out on a hike. Simply place a few drops of the oil on clothing to create a deterrent for any uninvited ticks. To create the perfect bug repellant storm, try mixing citronella, tea tree, and geranium oil to kiss mosquitos, horse flies, and ticks goodbye.

What About Bug Bites?

Even with an essential oil bug repellant trifecta, bug bites can still happen.This is especially true for those lucky enough to spend extended periods of time outdoors. However, having a bug bite doesn’t have to mean suffering through a whole week of painful and itchy skin. Essential oil treatments can provide immediate bug bite relief.

For example, lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective pain reliever. If a bite becomes uncomfortable or painful,  apply a couple drops of lavender oil to the area. Unlike many oils, this one can be applied directly to the skin, so there’s no reason not to keep it on hand while camping or hiking. 

When dealing with bug bites that are very itchy, tea tree essential oil can also offer relief. It is known to alleviate discomfort, and its antimicrobial properties will help prevent infection. Remember to dilute this oil with a carrier oil first before direct application to the skin.

Uses for Self-Care

The number of chemicals used in many commercial self-care products is a topic best left for another day, but there is good news! It’s relatively easy to make natural alternatives to many everyday beauty products at home using essential oils. From deodorant to sunburns, the possibilities are as limitless as a person’s willingness to experiment.


Deodorant is the perfect self- care DIY project for first timers. With only a few ingredients, this recipe is easy to make, inexpensive, and free of aluminum or parabens. Customize the essential oil blend to get a personalized scent or create an individual mood-boosting blend.

DIY Deodorant Recipe and Instructions

Sunburn Treatment

Skin is the body’s largest organ and sunburns are, in essence, large wounds that should be treated promptly. Aloe vera is a well-known natural sunburn treatment, providing both moisture and cooling relief to the skin. However, the addition of essential oils can promote burn healing through their cooling sensation and antibacterial benefits. Some of the best essential oils to treat sunburns are:

  • Peppermint Essential Oil: the most powerful benefit of peppermint is menthol, which provides cooling relief and has known anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits. It is considered a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it narrows inflamed blood vessels, and therefore reduces overall inflammation.
  • Lavender Essential Oil: The same calming properties that are so great for bug bites can also soothe sun-burned skin. Lavender has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, which all help to promote healing after a burn.
  • Chamomile Essential Oil: Chamomile is one of the oldest natural remedies available, due to its calming properties (think bedtime tea). It has been shown to promote skin healing, and is used for a variety of skin conditions like boils and psoriasis, in addition to treating sunburns.

Uses for Childcare

Every mom needs a little help sometimes and essential oils can be just as (if not more) effective for children. Because essential oils are highly concentrated and children are so small, they don’t need much to reap the rewards of natural oil recipes. Whether it’s medication, the air they breathe, or the food they ingest, children are generally more sensitive than adults to the stimulants in their environment. This makes it all the more important to find natural alternatives when treating small injuries or transforming bedtime into a calming and enjoyable routine. 

Sleep Aid

Kids resist bedtime from time to time. However, their bodies are growing quickly and it’s important that they get enough rest. Try using essential oils to throw out the evening arguments and help children calm down enough to get a good night’s sleep.

Luckily, the oils don’t change just because they’re being used for kids. The same essential oils that help adults sleep well can also help kids relax. A drop or two of lavender or chamomile oil in the bathtub or on a pillowcase might be just the trick kids need to unwind. For a fun bonding experience, try incorporating lavender oil into a routine to be done together, such as a calming evening foot rub. 

Minor Cuts and Scrapes

Summertime often means more activity and play outside, making kids especially prone to cuts and scrapes. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of essential oils, they are a great way to promote skin healing when treating small cuts. 

Uses for Home and Cleaning

Essential oils work in lieu of many self- care and cosmetic products, but incorporating them into household cleaners might just take the cake. Whether it’s run of the mill cleaning in the kitchen, or extra protection from germs while out and about, essential oils can be effective alternatives to commercial cleaning agents. 

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is an essential household staple, but it might not always be in stock at local shops. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to make hand sanitizer, and the CDC has released guidelines to ensure that DIY recipes are effective. 

For those who aren’t DIY inclined, but still want the mood-boosting and antimicrobial benefits of essential oils, try adding them directly to your store bought sanitizer. Either way, adding essential oils helps counteract the drying effects of alcohol, and replenishes moisture and nutrients to the skin. Cinnamon, tea tree, oregano, and rosemary essential oil are all good options.

Surface Spray

Using bleach on home surfaces often overkill (literally), as it can kill good bacteria along with the bad, and the harshness of the chemical can be dangerous when used regularly or without proper ventilation. Bleach can be so detrimental to human life that it was even used as an agent of chemical warfare in WWI

When it comes to protecting good health, this chemical can do more harm than good. Looking for a safe alternative to bleach that offers many of the same cleaning benefits without the toxic chemicals can be difficult. Fortunately, vinegar is a classic and safe cleaning alternative, especially when combined with the right essential oils. The vinegar will lift grime from surfaces, while the antimicrobial properties of essential oils, such as oregano, thyme, lemon and lavender, will prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and other microbes in your home. 

DIY Surface Spray Recipe to clean the home.

Lemon Essential Oil: Brightens surfaces and removes stains, all with an appealing clean smell. Lemon Essential Oils work well in the kitchen due to the antimicrobial properties.

Peppermint Essential Oil: Antibacterial and a natural bug repellent. Particularly good for areas that need extra attention, like the kitchen or bathroom. 

Tea Tree Essential Oil: Antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. Useful for treating mold and mildew, and freshening any space where there is a musty scent. Incorporate it into  a bathroom cleaner to combat musty bathroom scents while treating mold, mildew, and other harmful bacteria.

Essential Oils Every Day

Whether it’s indoor, outdoor, or personal care use – it is easy to incorporate essential oils into your daily life. These ideas only skim the surface of all the different ways to use your oils beyond aromatherapy. Now, with a little extra information, you can start to reap the rewards of essential oils and natural alternatives in every facet of your day-to-day life.

Categories: Essential Oils

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