It seems like every month of the year brings a new set of bugs and pests, and it can be hard to safely manage the incoming infestation.
Essential oils can be used to safely deter any pesky insects looking to hang out in your home. If you’re interested in using chemical-free bug control alternatives in your home, give these simple solutions a try.
When purchasing essential oils for pest control, it's important to use pure oils. Many oils on the market are adulterated with filler oils, making them diluted and lacking potency.
The effectiveness and benefits of essential oils dramatically drop when using oils that are not pure.
As a general rule, it's smart to buy essential oils that are third-party tested with a Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry test (GC/MS test).
Legitimate oil companies will share these results, and you can then make a smart choice about which essential oils to buy.
Even when you're just using the oils for something like pest control, it's smart to use clean, pure oils so you get the best results and so you're not introducing anything harmful into your home.
1. Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood oil not only smells nice and earthy, but it also keeps mosquitos, flies, silverfish, ants, ticks, lice, and fleas at bay.
If you struggle with any of these around your home, reach for some cedarwood scents. You can diffuse this oil near doors and windows for airborne pests, and apply it topically to deter bugs like ticks and fleas.
Cedarwood works by drawing moisture out of the bugs around your home, leaving them dead.
When you apply it topically, make sure to safely dilute it with a recommended carrier oil to protect your skin.
Good carrier oils include olive oil, jojoba oil, and grapeseed oil.
When you mix Cedarwood with water, you can add a little vodka or rubbing alcohol to the mix to increase the potency and draw more bugs in.
If you seem to be running into lots of unwelcome pests in your home though, we recommend diffusing cedarwood strategically around the home using an essential oil diffuser.
Adding these oils to a humidifier, despite what TikTok trends may tell you, does not work the same. For oils to diffuse effectively, you need to use an actual essential oil diffuser.
If you don't like the smell of plain cedarwood oil diffusing in your home, add a little bit of lemon or orange oil to brighten up the scent and make your home smell fresh.
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cold-weather locations can end up with lots of eight-legged friends bunking in for the winter, and cinnamon oil is a great way to say sayonara to spiders.
Fill a spray bottle with cinnamon essential oil that's been slightly diluted with olive oil. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and place it near the creepy, crawly points of entry.
Cinnamon oil can also be a bug-fighter in the warmer months as well. Even the smell of cinnamon oil can deter even very determined bugs.
Cinnamon oil keeps spring spiders, wasps, fruit flies, and cockroaches at bay.
Diffuse cinnamon oil around windows and doors, or use the same method with oil and olive oil that keeps winter spiders out.
3. Citronella Essential Oil
Citronella candles are a popular but sometimes ineffective bug repellent—therapeutic grade essential oil is much more potent and powerful.
Citronella is used to ward off mosquitoes as well as fleas, ticks, moths, and ants. You can diffuse citronella oil in an area where mosquitoes and other bugs are swarming, or you can apply it topically to keep the suckers from swooping in for a bite.
Citronella oil is very potent and can harm your skin if applied topically, without it being diluted. Make sure to use a quality carrier oil in conjunction with citronella before application.
If citronella alone doesn't work to keep bugs away, there are a few other oils you can add to create your own bug-repellent concoction.
Mix equal parts citronella, rosemary, ylang-ylang, and lemon essential oils with a quality carrier oil. This can then be applied topically to help repel mosquitos and other bigs.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil
If you only try one essential oil bug repellent, try peppermint. Peppermint wards off a host of bugs and can chase away the most curious of unwelcome guests.
Take pure peppermint oil and dilute it in olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. Use the dilution guidelines that come with the oil. If the company doesn't suggest diluting the oil, you’re likely using an adulterated oil from a company that packs in chemical additives and fillers.
If you don't plan on using the mixture on the skin, you can mix it to be more powerful and potent.
Once diluted, take the solution and spray it around all doors and windows—any bug points of entry. Repeat this process once or twice a week in particularly bug-heavy months, and once a month in cooler seasons.
5. Sweet Orange
When you hear the words sweet orange do you think of citrus or bug repellent?
Sweet orange oil can help chase away even the fastest of roaches, which is a great solution for folks who don't want to use roach spray around their families.
Mix sweet orange essential oil with a small amount of fractionated coconut oil and regularly spray in roach-infested areas.
You can also apply this mixture to your skin and protect yourself from lice, moths, weevils, ticks, and more. For safety, make the skincare solution less potent.
The bonus is that sweet orange smells amazing, so you'll have a roach repellant that makes your house feel bright and springy.
If you can't find sweet orange at your local oil shop, wild orange essential oil will also do the trick. Slightly more tart and citrusy, this essential oil also smells great—so you really can't go wrong.
6. Sage Oil
Sage oil can also be used to keep pests and bugs out of your home and garden.
Sage is especially good at keeping chiggers out of your home and off your patio. We recommend diffusing two parts sage oil and one part lemon oil in an essential oil diffuser on the patio.
This will help keep the outside living area bugs at bay without having to use dangerous chemicals all over the yard and patio.
Sage oil also works to ward off ticks, fleas, and flies. We like diffusing this oil in our home in the spring months when flies are hatching to keep them out of our house, and to avoid having to use gross, sticky fly traps.
7. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is another great bug-repellant to keep in your arsenal.
Add lavender oil to distilled water and add a splash of vodka or rubbing alcohol. This concoction can be sprayed around doors and windows in the home to keep bugs from coming inside.
Like all of the other oils on this list, you can also diffuse lavender oil to deter bugs from making themselves at home in your house.
If you're not a fan of the smell of lavender oil on its own, we recommend adding orange oil. Orange oil will enhance the benefits of the lavender and sweeten the scent up.
Ylang-ylang oil may be less common than some of the others on this list but you should be able to find this oil easily at an oil shop or online with a reputable essential oil company.
Ylang-ylang has a sweet scent that's faintly floral and earthy. It's a great oil to combine with other bug-repellant oils in diffuser blends because the scent plays well with other scents.
Alone, ylang-ylang works to repel mosquitos. Much like citronella, the scent of this essential oil repels mosquitos naturally, making it a great alternative to store-bought repellents that include chemicals like DEET.
Because babies and young children should not use repellents that are full of DEET, so oils like ylang-ylang—safely diluted—may be a good alternative.
Before you use this blend, or any others, on or around babies and young children you should always check with a pediatrician first.
9. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil has been growing in popularity because of its ability to help you grow longer, stronger hair and promote great scalp heath, but that's not the only thing this essential oil can do.
Rosemary oil also works like the other oils on this list to keep pests away from your home.
Mix ten drops of rosemary oil, a teaspoon of vodka, and a cup of water together and spray this mixture around the windows and doors in your home to deter all sorts of flying insects.
If you don't have rosemary oil on hand, you can boil several sprigs of rosemary in water and once the mixture has cooled, pour it into a spray bottle and apply it the same way.
This solution won't be as strong as rosemary oil, but it will certainly do the trick.
Rosemary works especially well keeping flies, fruit flies, moths, and mosquitos out of your space. Because flying insects hate this oil, it's another one that we also recommend diffusing throughout the spring months.
Bug Out Diffuser Blends
Diffusers break down the essential oils and dispel them through the air using vibrations. The vibrations originate from a plate that creates ultrasonic waves.
Those ultrasonic waves then break the oils into microscopic particles with the diffuser can then push them out into the air with the water carrying the oils further.
This is why we recommend using a good, essential oil diffuser instead of other diffusing methods. These diffusers range in price and can generally be found within your budget.
When you're using an essential oil diffuser we also recommend using distilled water. You can purchase distilled water, or you can let water sit out in a bowl for forty-eight hours. This will give you a similar result.
Using distilled water, fill your diffuser slightly below the fill line, then add all your essential oils. You don't need a lot to make a big impact, a few drops will usually do.
You can purchase a pre-made bug-repellant diffuser blend or you can create your own.
The following is a list of a few of our favorite blends that you can make yourself using pure, unadulterated essential oils.
Blend One: Six drops of cedarwood, three drops of ylang-ylang, two drops of peppermint, and one drop of linseed oil.
Blend Two: Four drops of lemon oil, four drops of orange oil, two drops of ylang-ylang oil, two drops of cinnamon oil, and one drop of sage oil.
Blend Three: Six drops of peppermint oil, one drop of sage oil, and two drops of lavender oil.
Remember to be careful when working with these powerful oils, especially around children.
Keep oils out of reach and store all of them in a cool, dark cupboard in a tinted glass bottle. It's also important to work with pure, potent oils from companies that have GC/MS reports published on their products.
If you get a potent oil in your eyes, rinse it out immediately. If you're pregnant or nursing, some essential oils—like peppermint—are considered very dangerous, even to a small degree.
Always talk to your doctor about your essential oil use if you are pregnant or if there are young kids in the home. If your doctor is unaware of which oils you should be avoiding, consider talking with a naturopath.
If you have pets, it's also a good idea to consult a vet or read up on which oils are dangerous around pets. Pets, especially cats and dogs, have very sensitive noses, and that's just the beginning of what can go wrong when you mix pets and essential oils.
Do your homework. You want to repel pests, not harm your pets.
Refurbishing, rediscovering, upcycling, and reinventing&mdash;all things Maddison can do with a pair of scissors or a can of paint. A Brigham Young University grad with a degree in English and communications, Maddison has worked with small and large businesses alike, developing creative marketing strategies.
Maddison is also a seasoned photographer whose work has been featured on ESPN and in several magazines in the US. After several years as a sports photojournalist, Maddison primarily focuses on product photography and capturing families, newborns, and kids with her camera.&nbsp;
As a DIY writer of 5+ years, with a decade more of experience, Maddison has a knack for turning trash into treasure and convincing her friends it came from Anthropologie. In the last few years, Maddison has begun consulting as an interior design specialist, working with corporate spaces and homes.