Introduction: DIY Insect Repellent!!

Picture of DIY Insect Repellent!!

I like fishing. A lot of places I go or have been have more mosquitos, sand flies and midges that someone could imagine.

About 4 years ago an old fisherman told me how to make this repellent. I was asking about the dreaded sand fly and how to avoid it. None of the store-bought repellants work against this type of insect even though the labels claim they do. After making this repellent I will never go back. I received one bite the first time I used it and that was on the back of my knee where I hadn't put the spray. Next time, no bites. It's amazing!! Thanks old fisherman.

I think this is currently the best DIY repellent because it is easy to make, effective and easily modifiable. You can add tea tree oil, lavender or any scent to it and it just gets better.

A lot of people were asking about how to get rid of mosquitos and though I am still working on a trap, this will at least stop them from biting you. I dedicate this instructable to all those who hate being bitten by bugs.

Step 1: Throw Away Old Repellents

Picture of Throw Away Old Repellents

Before throwing away all your old repellents, I want you to look at what is actually in these compared with the ingredients I'm suggesting. Some are known to cause cancer.

Here's a few common chemicals found in typical store-bought repellents from this site:

1. DEET is one of the most widely used chemicals as a mosquito repellent. While the use of DEET in lower concentrations is considered safe, when used in concentrations greater than 50 percent, DEET can produce skin irritation. Eye irritation is also common. DEET also will penetrate skin and can, in some instances, affect the central nervous system. In some individuals, slurred speech, confusion and seizures have occurred. These symptoms are most commonly associated with long-term, excessive exposure or improper use.


2. Permethrin is another repellent intended for treating clothing and other items, such as tents, sleeping bags and other gear made of fabric. Permethrin can cause eye irritation. While pyrethroid chemicals directly affect the nervous system of insects, it is not certain how these chemicals will affect humans, so care should be taken to follow the directions carefully. The Environmental Protection Agency has also classified permethrin as "likely to be carcinogenic to humans" if ingested.


3. P-menthane-3,8-diol may have some associated health hazards. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that long-term skin exposure produces microscopic kidney lesions as well as skin redness and swelling. Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency states that one study found p-menthane-3,8-diol may cause genetic damage.


4. While the California Department of Pesticide Regulation Report 2007-6 indicates that there was a possible increase in liver tumors and liver necrosis in rat and mice toxicity studies, the Environmental Protection Agency has cleared Metofluthrin as safe, when properly used.

Step 2: Things You Will Need

Picture of Things You Will Need

The list as follows:


Baby oil

Methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol. High purity is best.

Hair atomiser


What is Dettol? Dettol is a disinfectant that was first used in hospitals to clean skin. It contains a chemical called chloroxylenol. Chloroxylenol is an antimicrobial chemical that controls bacteria, fungi and virus.

While Dettol can kill you if ingested, it is a safer alternative to most store-bought repellents.

Dettol contains; chloroxylenol, pine oil, castor oil, isopropanol, water and soap.

Of course there are more natural alternatives, but I find these are often less effective.

Step 3: Mixing the Solution

Picture of Mixing the Solution

Using your funnel placed into the atomiser, add 1/3 equal parts of Dettol, baby oil and methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol.

Step 4: Shake and Spray

Picture of Shake and Spray

Now mix this all together and you can spray away! Avoid open cuts or wounds, eyes and mouth. This repellent is designed for external use only so don't get any silly ideas.

Fun tip: This mixture will also work on head lice. Soak the hair and comb it through, leave it for 30mins and wash out with soapy water. YES its stinks! But hey, try killing lice with any other treatment first go.

Special Prize:

The first comment with "made it", showing a picture of all your ingredients, will receive a 3 month pro membership code. "Prize redeemed by userj0lt" Congratulations.

Hope everyone enjoys being bug-free!


winetam (author)2015-02-08

I think vodka would be safer on the skin than methylated spirits -- denatured alcohol is simply alcohol with poison added to make it unworthy of drinking or regulation requiring an alcohol license for distribution. A little concerned about putting the Pine Sol (Dettol) chemicals on the skin. Probably worthy of further investigation.

Tim Temple (author)winetam2015-06-23

"Denatured" alcohol just has the most bitter compound they could find in it. If you could get drunk enough to tolerate the bitterant, it's good alcohol!

FarazK13 (author)Tim Temple2017-08-09

methylated spirit contains bitter wood naphtha- but in europe its only for use by nurses and doctors.. for preinjection swabbing( need a script )
...the only ethanol you buy in europe is surgical spirit- which is similar but has a bit of castor oil -
Isopropyl-alcohol ( isopropanol) you can get- its flammable but its pure . and not abusable.

33% alcohol - would make the mix flammable - so be careful .

FarazK13 (author)winetam2017-08-09

dettol diluted is used for skin disinfection- so it is fine - ( and as i mentioned earlier - a half teaspoon in the shower tray water will prevent atheletes foot ...) i have been using it for years- and people still think i am alive and well.

yrralguthrie (author)winetam2015-02-08

Again, check out the uses for dettol. Antiseptic means on the skin in a cut probably. Soap used to clean wounds. to find products.

Spiritpeh (author)2015-02-05

I'd like to know if this stuff will kil bugs or just repel them.

I have a bad roach problem, and can't use he store stuff because i can't breathe in my house afterwards for hours or days.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

lam0nt (author)Spiritpeh2015-02-09

You should be using Diatomaceous Earth [DE]. You can get it at any pool store for about 10 bucks. It's an inert mineral, completely harmless to humans. It comes in a fine white powder. Sprinkle it around doors and windows, outside and inside, inside cabinets, badically wherever you see them. Roaches walk through it and it sticks to their feet. It gets ansorbed & their nervous system can't process it killing them. You will start to find dead roaches that have no explanation as to how they got that way. That's DE. It has no smell but can be a little messy [think baby powder] but easy to vacuum up. Hope that helps.

rjcullis (author)lam0nt2015-02-09

Diatomaceous earth does not kill by affecting the nervous system (it's just the carbon skeletons of ancient minute sea animals). It works because insects are continually waxing their exoskeletons. This is how they keep their "vital fluids" inside. The DE sticks to the insects feet and next time they wax themselves it cuts through the wax allowing them to dry out.

PowellMade (author)rjcullis2015-02-09

Cool how did you learn this? If this works in this way then fine industrial diamonds would be more effective?

rjcullis (author)PowellMade2015-02-09

I used to work in Bio Science. Boric Acid will do the same thing. It's safer and cheaper to use Diatomaceous Earth. I also raise chickens. To get rid of parasites we grab the birds by the feet, hold 'em upside down, sprinkle 'em with the D.E. fluff it around a bit and put 'em down again. Good bye cooties. You can buy D.E. at a reasonable price at some farm supply stores for that very reason. It'll kill all sorts of insects. You just don't want to breath in the dust because some of the particles are very fine and they make it into the finest divisions of your lungs where they lodge and attract carcinogens to themselves. This can cause some nastry problems later in life. Have a good one. Richard

FarazK13 (author)rjcullis2017-08-09

boric acid is an insecticide yes - i would not use it - but also toxic to humans and pets and the environment--- (in tiny amounts its a preservative in creams .)
i found this blog searching if dettol killed scabies mite - well if it kills headlice - maybe it would ..still googling it.
( phenols are toxic and are absorbed through the skin- toxic to the liver - so if you have liver probs prob use very very little - )
Dettol also excellent to prevent atheletes foot .

PowellMade (author)rjcullis2015-02-19

Well thank you for posting this up. Very interesting.

Tim Temple (author)PowellMade2015-06-23

Nah. The stinking diamonds are faceted like gravel. Diatoms are intricate skeletons that act like pry bars to keep their chitin plates open.

lam0nt (author)rjcullis2015-02-09

Thanks for the clarification. The great news is, it works! :-)

Ninzerbean (author)Spiritpeh2015-02-09

Google "no more roaches", the method works, it's safe, and you can put it places where you can't put diatomaceous earth.

tovey (author)Spiritpeh2015-02-08

You might get better mileage by sprinkling it around the food. When they walk on it, they will track it back to their nests where other roaches will come into contact with it and hopefully kill the entire nest.

PowellMade (author)Spiritpeh2015-02-05

Hey there mate this repels like nothing else but I don't think the old roach will eat it cause it does not smell like food.

However I happen to know boric acid will help you. Mix some up with some peanut butter and put it under your sink and in every place where you see them go. Make sure that this is kept away from dogs and cats as it can cause them harm. Think like the roach and decide some sneaky spots to leave it. They will run there when your lights go on.

Hope this helps you.

Kind regards


I agree about the borax. It works very well if you are careful not to use too much of it. If there is enough borax in the mix, the bugs won't eat it.

taur561 (author)Spiritpeh2015-02-08

that is right . Borax mixed with a dough made from flour and egg yolk .. Make little balls or blocks and because it is food , they will eat it .

Lovelydestruction (author)2017-06-08

Thumbs up! Gonna try this, because biters hunt my partner down like heat-seeking missiles.

donia0813 (author)2017-06-02

I live in rural Florida and this is the best repellent I've ever used. I don't like the smell of baby oil, so I modify it by using equal parts of mineral oil and baby oil.

Logan Hanssen (author)2015-02-04

Great instructable! I can't wait to make it. Methylated spirits is also known as denatured alcohol right?

Tim Temple (author)Logan Hanssen2015-06-23

"Methylated" sounds like methanol - wood alcohol. That stuff can blind you are kill you!

VickiW44 (author)Tim Temple2016-11-04

only if you drink it - you would have to be pretty dumb to do that

circe801 (author)Tim Temple2015-09-02

you've got to drink it for those results!!!

BigBear575 (author)Logan Hanssen2015-09-20


PowellMade (author)Logan Hanssen2015-02-05

Thats correct it has additives to make it not suitable for drinking. Any high purity alcohol/ethanol, will work as this thins the solution and helps it capillary over the skin. Hope this helps

Logan Hanssen (author)PowellMade2015-02-06

Thanks that helped alot!

Waalcko (author)2016-01-17

Wow, I will definitly give this a go. Thank you!

nsimpson4 made it! (author)2015-04-17

So the other day I went fishing by the river, the second the sun went down I was getting absolutely smashed by mozzies. Within ten minutes, I packed up, I just couldn't handle them!
The next night I decided to go out again, and knowing I had no repellent, that's when I remembered reading this.
I quickly found some detol, metho, and a small mist bottle, but no baby oil, I threw in the detol and metho, and figured some of my wife's hand cream would make a decent substitute, so I threw a few pumps of that in, to make roughly 1/3 parts.
Back down the river, I sprayed it on nice and thick. And as the sun went down, NOTHING. Hours later, still NOT ONE SINGLE BITE .

This stuff is amazing! From one Aussie to another, I can't thank you enough. Thanks for sharing, and if you ever see that old fisherman again, give him a pat on the back.

piperjon made it! (author)2015-03-22

Made some up today, heading out for a trail run, yes we already have some bugs out here in Arkansas, believe it or not. I reduced the baby oil by half just to see how it goes, I can always add more later. Thanx for the 'ible, I'll let you know how it goes!

PowellMade (author)piperjon2015-03-31

Great job! Thanks for the post.

How did it go? I bet no bites?

piperjon (author)piperjon2015-03-22

oh, and I used vodka. :)

tlebsack (author)2015-02-11

What are the active ingredients that repel the bugs ??

PowellMade (author)tlebsack2015-02-19

I the disinfectant chloroxylenol is what they do not like. Baby oil probably does not taste good also but its really just a suspension for the Dettol.

Spokehedz (author)2015-02-08

Mmm! Denatured Alcohol! The poison that you normally drink to get you all stupid, only with added chemicals to make it actually poison that prevents it from being legally purchasable moonshine! Which will kill you by itself, but they go and add the other stuff in it to ACTUALLY kill you!

Mmm! Dettol! The brand name for a mixture of chemicals used for cleaning surfaces developed in the 1920's when we clearly knew everything about toxicity and residual effects! Oh and it also contains Isopropyl alcohol which can be metabolized by the human body into Acetone which will seriously mess up your day, and/or kill you! And yes, you can absorb it directly through the skin, or inhale it when it evaporates at room temperatures!


Trustthapo (author)Spokehedz2015-02-08

Even though the human body naturally produces and takes up acetone through everyday metabolic processes, haha

Spokehedz (author)Trustthapo2015-02-08

Just like there are small trace amounts of mercury everywhere, the point is to minimize your exposure to it.

The main point to all this was that the creator of this instructable did so to get rid of the things that "cause cancer". By replacing them with other things that aren't so great either.

ManifoldSky (author)Spokehedz2015-02-10

Um, no. If that is "the point", it is a pointless one. Mercury is in no way, shape, or form in the same category as things like isopropyl alcohol. First, the body has perfectly fine mechanisms for dealing with systemic acetone (not surprising, as. as already made clear to you, the body produces it naturally). Second, unlike mercury, which remains in the body for essentially ever, acetone, isopropyl, and al other chemicals used here are cleared from the body in a very short period of time.

Spokehedz (author)ManifoldSky2015-02-10

I'm just saying that the main reason the author posted this was to get away from things that cause cancer, and I am sure that splashing yourself with floor cleaner is not as good of an idea as the products that have actually been tested for prolonged contact with skin.

You can do whatever you want, I for one won't be spraying myself down with alcohol which is both absorbed through the skin and through the lungs to not get eaten by bugs. That's my choice, you can choose whatever you want.

And yes, while the body naturally makes some Acetone--making more of it, in a much shorter time frame is pretty bad. Just like your body makes a teensy tiny bit of DMT, it would not be a good idea to go and consume mass quantities of it because it is 'naturally occurring' in your body.

ManifoldSky (author)Spokehedz2015-02-10

And I am just saying that you have no basis whatsoever for the comparison, or the implied claim that any of the chemicals listed cause cancer, or any other serious issue in the proportions used. You can be as sure of it as you want. Your personal beliefs do not influence, or even have any relations to, reality.
As to your last comment, as the amounts absorbed through the skin are in no way, shape, or form "massive" your beliefs here, again, are totally without relevance or merit.

Spokehedz (author)ManifoldSky2015-02-11

I am not making those claims about the cancer causing properties of commercial bug spray. Please stop accusing me of making those claims, and read what I said before you continue to not get the point of my post.

Thank you.

ManifoldSky (author)Spokehedz2015-02-11

I am not claiming you claimed that. I am claiming that you implied that. Which you did.

Furthermore, you most certainly did claim that there were adverse health effects for the ingredients listed. You have no proof of this whatsoever. Or of any of your other claims.

yrralguthrie (author)Spokehedz2015-02-08

I believe I would rather dance with the repellant than with the various really nasty diseases that mosquitos, flys, ticks cause. Some prevalent now in the US are really, really nasty.

Spokehedz (author)yrralguthrie2015-02-08

It's your funeral.

yrralguthrie (author)Spokehedz2015-02-09

No, it's my life and I chose to cross the street.

shazni (author)Spokehedz2015-02-08

In my country mosquitoes cause more deaths than repellents. 2 of my kids got dengue fever. Thank God they recovered! But no one is immune. I will definitely try this as most repellents don't work.!

nonobadog (author)2015-02-08

One word of caution - you seem to put down other repellents because they contain "chemicals". Everything contains "chemicals". You should be aware that Dettol works because it contains the pesticide chloroxylenol, aka 4-chloro-3,5-dimethylphenol. So try not to get this in your eyes and try not to contaminate the water because it is highly toxic to the fish you want to catch. Learn about it and then decide if you want to use it. One source of info is the EPA -

I just don't want people to be careless with it because I like to fish too.

PowellMade (author)nonobadog2015-02-10

Thanks, that's a great point. It's definitely important to remember to use carefully and as specified. When I spray it on, I only spray it on my upper and forearms and then rub my arms together so it doesn't go on my hands, and therefore stays away from the fish. Glad to have another fish lover here!

therewillbeblood (author)2015-02-09

Just a note to modifying this solution w/ any scents. I'd highly recommend you DO NOT use a combination of tea tree oil & lavender.

About This Instructable




Bio: My Name is Nick and I love making things!! Learning about everything is something I like to do. I have been a carpenter here in ... More »
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