Catnip Bug Off Spray

bug off spray

Science Daily reported in August 2001 that researchers have found that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the DEET which is found in most commercial insect repellents.


So, what better ingredient to make an all-natural  insect repellent than catnip grown in your garden (or packaged catnip found in the pet supplies aisle?)   All of the ingredients in this recipe are all-natural, safe for humans and smell great.   In addition to the catnip, the recipe contains vanilla, which is a scent that’s disliked by mosquitoes, black flies, gnats and ticks.


The entire recipe costs less than $1 a bottle to make.  It’s a fraction of the cost of commercial insect repellent and may be up to ten times more effective – what is not to love?  :->


The ingredients you will need to make this bug spray are:


½ cup dried or fresh catnip, finely chopped

2 cups commercial witch hazel liquid

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

10-20 drops insect-repelling essential oil (i.e., lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, citronella and rosemary)


1.Put your catnip in a saucepan and cover with the witch hazel solution.  Bring to a simmer, boil for five minutes, then turn off the heat and let cool for at least an hour.  If using fresh leaves, then chop the catnip and let simmer for 10 minutes before removing from the heat.
2.Pour the resulting catnip tea through a fine strainer lined with a paper towel.
3.Add the vanilla extract to the catnip tea and stir in gently.
4.Now add the essential oil – either a single oil or a combination of oils (adding up to a total of 10-20 drops) will work well
5.Bottle in small spray bottles and you are ready to go!

For safety’s sake, apply a small amount of the spray to your ankle to test for a skin reaction before using it on your entire body, and take care to avoid your facial area and eyes.


This recipe can be safely reapplied every hour as needed, or sprayed directly on bugs or on non-painted/non-varnished surfaces where insects may otherwise choose to linger.

5 thoughts on “Catnip Bug Off Spray”

    1. Commercial witch hazel solution is basically self-preserving, since it already contains alcohol as a preservative. You can always add a commercial preservative, if you like, or add a bit more of a potable, perfumer’s or rubbing alcohol, to enhance the protection. The added alcohol will also enhance the dissipation/drying of the spray from your skin or other surfaces you might spray it on.

      – Ela

    2. Commercial witch hazel solution actually already has alcohol in it as a preservative. If you’d like to give the solution a bit of extra preservation, adding some vodka or other high potency, unscented alcohol will act as an additional preservative. It will also have the added advantage of allowing the product to evaporate more rapidly from the skin or clothing that you spray it on.

  1. Will the witch hazel solubalize the oils or is an emulsifier necessary for a consistent product that would not require shaking before use?

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