How to Make and Use Natural Tick Repellents

Опубликовал Admin
4-03-2021, 07:10
Few things can ruin a nice hike in the woods like finding a tick on yourself. Not only are they gross, but they also spread a variety of deadly diseases, like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The best way to protect yourself from ticks is to use a bug spray containing DEET and treat your clothes with permethrin. However, if you’re not crazy about commercial bug sprays, you can make your own natural tick repellent using natural products like oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear protective clothes and avoid tall grasses to stay extra safe.

Choosing Effective Ingredients

  1. Use oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) as a DEET alternative. Lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the few plant-based tick repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. This is a good option if you’re looking for a natural alternative to pesticides like DEET. Purchase OLE online or from your local pharmacy or vitamin store.
    • OLE is less potent than DEET, so you’d need a concentration of 20-26% to get the same tick-repelling power as a 15-20% DEET-based formula.
    • The active ingredient in lemon eucalyptus oil is PMD, or p-Menthane-3,8-diol. If you see PMD listed in the ingredients on a commercial insect repellent, this means that it was made with eucalyptus oil or a synthetic imitation.
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus contains components that some people are allergic to. Stop using it right away if you experience symptoms such as hives or an itchy rash. Don’t use it on children under 3 years old unless your doctor says it’s ok.
    • Some commercial repellents containing lemon eucalyptus oil include Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent and Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray.
  2. Experiment with other essential oils if you’re allergic to OLE. Some people are sensitive to OLE. If you can’t use it or don’t like its smell, try an alternative essential oil. There are several options available that you can try, but keep in mind that most of them aren’t officially registered with the EPA as reliable insect repellents. Studies have shown that the following essential oils might be effective at repelling ticks:
    • Spearmint oil
    • Oregano oil
    • Rose geranium oil
  3. Stick to commercial repellents if you live in a high-risk area. If tick-borne diseases are a major problem where you live, your best bet is to protect yourself with a combination of DEET-based insect repellent and clothes treated with permethrin (a pesticide that kills ticks on contact).
    • Always follow the directions on the label carefully when using any insect repellent or pesticide. If used correctly, these products are very safe. You have a much greater risk of getting seriously ill from a tick bite than from a commercial bug repellent!

Making and Applying Natural Repellents

  1. Mix your oil of choice with water and a carrier oil. Mix 1 fluid ounce (30 mL) of the essential oil or oil of lemon eucalyptus with 4.5 fluid ounces (130 mL) each of water and a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba oil. Pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle. This will create a repellent with a 10% essential oil concentration.
    • As an alternative to carrier oil, you can use a non-oil-based carrier, such as witch hazel, vodka, apple cider vinegar, or rubbing alcohol. These carriers are less greasy than oils and won’t stain your clothes. However, avoid these options if you are prone to dry skin.
    • You can increase the concentration of the mixture for a longer-lasting repellent by increasing the amount of essential oil in the mix. For example, 3 fluid ounces (89 mL) of essential oil with 5 fluid ounces (150 mL) each of water and your carrier would make a 23% concentration.
    • Never apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting them in a carrier first. Concentrated essential oils can be very irritating to your skin.
  2. Spray the repellent on your clothes and any exposed areas of skin. Before going outside, spritz your homemade repellent on any exposed areas, such as your arms, neck, or ankles. You can also spray a little onto your hands and pat it onto your face and hair. Spray your clothes, too, since this will discourage ticks from climbing onto your clothing.
    • Never spray any insect repellent directly onto your face, since it could get into your mouth, nose, or eyes. Instead, spray some onto your hands and then use them to pat the repellent onto your face.
    • It’s easiest to apply repellent from a spray bottle, but if that’s not an option, pour a little into your hands and pat it over your clothes and skin. Alternatively, put a section of a paper towel roll in a lidded tub or jar and soak it in the solution to make your own repellent wipes.
  3. Re-apply your repellent every 1-2 hours. While some commercial repellents can protect you for up to 14 hours, homemade repellents don’t usually have as much staying power. As long as you’re in an area where ticks may be active, keep spritzing on your homemade spray every hour or 2 to ensure that it’s still doing its job.
    • Sweat and rain can rinse away insect repellents, so reapply the spray more often if you’re sweating a lot or getting wet.
  4. Wash your skin and change out of your treated clothes once you come inside. Even natural bug repellents can be irritating to your skin, so change and rinse off once you’re back inside. Taking a shower and laundering your clothes will also help wash away any ticks that might have gotten onto you in spite of your precautions!
    • Shower or wash your skin with soap and water to get all the repellent off your skin.

Taking Other Precautions

  1. Wear clothes that cover your skin in tick-heavy areas. If you plan to be hiking around outdoors in a tick-heavy area, such as a field or the woods, put on protective clothing. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and boots that are ankle-length or higher.
    • You can give yourself extra protection by tucking in your shirt and tucking the bottoms of your pants into your socks.
    • If possible, wear light-colored clothes so that you can spot ticks more easily.
  2. Treat your clothing with permethrin before wearing it. Permethrin is a pesticide that contains synthetic pyrethrins, which are similar to natural pesticides found in chrysanthemum flowers. If you plan to go hiking or spend time in a tick-infested area, first spray your clothes, shoes, and any hiking gear with a .5% permethrin spray. Apply the spray in a well-ventilated area and let your clothes and gear dry completely before using them.
    • Permethrin is very toxic to fish and cats, so avoid using it near waterways or around your pets.
    • Unfortunately, the natural version of permethrin, called pyrethrum, is not effective for treating clothes and other fabrics against ticks. This is because it is unstable and breaks down very quickly when exposed to sunlight.
    • Permethrin can last through several washes, especially if you launder your treated clothes separately from the rest of your laundry. However, you’ll need to reapply it after about 6 washes.
  3. Avoid walking through tall grass, weeds, or leaf litter. Ticks like to cling to plants and grab onto people and animals as they walk by. If you’re out hiking, avoid walking through the underbrush as much as possible. Do your best to stay in the middle of the path so that you don’t brush up against branches or undergrowth as you go by.
    • You can also minimize the risk of getting ticks in your own yard by keeping tall grass, weeds, grass clippings, and leaf litter under control.
  4. Check your clothes, body, and gear for ticks. When you get inside, carefully look yourself over. If you spot any ticks on yourself, your pets, or any items you brought with you, remove them and kill them by wrapping them up in tape, flushing them down the toilet, or dropping them in rubbing alcohol.
    • Check all the nooks and crannies of your body, like your underarms, the backs of your knees, behind your ears, and in your belly button. Run your fingers over your scalp to find any ticks that might be hiding in your hair.
    • Put your clothes in the laundry right away. Wash and dry them on the hottest settings that are safe for your garments to kill any stray ticks.
  5. Remove any attached ticks with tweezers immediately. If you find an attached tick, don’t panic. You can prevent most serious tick-borne illnesses from developing if you remove the tick right away. Remove the tick by carefully pulling it out of your skin with a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull straight up and away from your skin, without jerking or twisting it. This will help prevent the tick from leaving its head or mouthparts behind in your skin.
    • If you’ve been bitten by a tick, call your doctor for advice. If you live in an area where tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease are common, they may recommend getting a preventative dose of antibiotics.
    • Call your doctor right away if you aren’t able to remove the tick completely, or if you develop symptoms such as a fever or a rash around the bite.
  6. Shower within 2 hours of being outside in a tick-infested area. If you’ve been hiking around outdoors in a field or wooded area, try to take a shower as soon as possible once you get home. This will help wash away any unattached ticks that might be on your body or in your hair.
    • When you’re showering, take the opportunity to check your scalp and body for any attached ticks you might have missed.


  • If you’re interested in buying tick repellents that contain natural ingredients, such as OLE, you can use the EPA’s search tool to find registered products:
  • Ticks are small black or brown arachnids that look similar to spiders or mites, with a big, round abdomen and a very small head and legs. Depending on the species and stage of growth, an unattached tick can range from a tiny speck the size of a poppy seed to slightly bigger than a sesame seed.


  • Ticks can carry a variety of dangerous diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If you live in a tick-heavy area, especially if there are a lot of deer ticks around, the best way to keep yourself safe is with a combination of DEET-based repellent and permethrin-treated clothing.
  • While some people claim that essential oils such as clove, cinnamon, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, orange, and peppermint can deter ticks, there’s not much evidence to support this. Some tests show that these oils stop working within as little as half an hour of application.
  • Always ask your doctor before using natural bug repellents on children under 3.
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