Backyard fires, camping, hiking, and stargazing are some of the best parts of summer. Unfortunately, bugs, especially mosquitos, love to hang out and disrupt these activities. Traditional bug spray can be especially riddled with chemicals, promising to eliminate all the mosquitoes—but in exchange for a stinky and sticky repellent covering your arms and legs.
Many traditional bug sprays feature DEET as the active ingredient. Though DEET has been identified by the EWG as having a low toxicity, this is with proper application and precaution. If you are applying bug spray on kids, you may consider choosing a bug spray that doesn’t have DEET.
Luckily, there are a variety of natural bug sprays available that utilize natural ingredients in their formulas rather than DEET and other chemicals.
Badger Anti-Bug Repellent Spray
Badger is known best for their badger balm, but they also offer a variety of natural skin care products. Their bug spray features citronella, cedar, rosemary, and wintergreen essential oils. The DEET-free formula is Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified and is designed with the whole family in mind.
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Reviewers mention that the scent is quite pleasant and smells like lemons rather than the traditional stink of most bug sprays. If you’d rather use a solid than a spray, Badger also offers their bug repellent in a balm form.
Greenerways Organic Bug Repellent
For a truly natural and organic bug spray, check out this repellent from Greenerways Organic. The DEET-free formula is USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO-Project verified. Utilizing citronella, lemongrass, and cedarwood oil, this bug spray repels all flying insects, ticks, and flies.
Reviewers mention that the formula works well on sensitive skin, and the scent is pleasant. Another reviewer mentions that rather than applying it every 3-4 hours as the bottle says, try 1-2 hours for a more effective repellent.
USDA Organic Bug Spray
For another USDA-certified organic option, check out this repellent from Brittanies Thyme. Similar to the previous options, this formula utilizes essential oils as the active ingredients. The essential oils in this repellent include clove, lemongrass, peppermint, thyme, geranium, and cedarwood oil.
This DEET-free bug spray leaves your skin conditioned while repelling more than 50 different species of insects.
Bugs At Bay Insect Spray
Available in both adult and baby-safe options, this bugs at bay repellent is DEET, paraben, and phthalate-free. Featuring eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, and rosemary essential oils, this bug spray has a pleasant smell.
With a witch hazel base, the formula of the repellent is refreshing and cool rather than sticky and oily. One reviewer mentioned that she has very sensitive skin and didn’t have a problem with bugs in the Northern Idaho woods when she used this repellent.
RootedEarth Insect Repellent
Available in 2oz, 4oz, and 8oz, this insect repellent from Rooted Earth Farm is handmade in Maine. Featuring witch hazel as an inactive ingredient and lemon, citronella, eucalyptus, and lemongrass essential oils as the active ingredients, the scent is citrusy and delicious.
The seller mentions that the formula is safe for kids over the age of 6, but should be spot tested to ensure that the essential oils won’t cause a reaction. Reviewers rave that the scent is not only pleasant but enjoyable, and repels insects as advertised.
Find it at Rooted Earth Farm on Etsy
SkinCraftOrganics Bug Spray
Utilizing lemon eucalyptus and catnip essential oils, this natural bug spray by SkinCraft Organics is DEET-free and uses soybean oil as the inactive ingredient. The seller mentions that the repellent needs to be shaken before use to mix up the oils, and it shouldn’t be worn in the sun since the citrus oils are photosensitizing.
Reviewers mention that the bug spray works and is a pleasant scent to wear all day.
Find it at SkinCraft Organics on Etsy
Anti Pesta Bug Spray
Available in 2oz and 4oz, this natural bug spray is handmade in Manchester, Maine. The 10% essential oil formula features citronella, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and tea tree oils. The seller mentions that those with sensitive skin should spot test before using the repellent. The seller also mentions that applying a thin layer of unscented lotion beforehand helps to protect sensitive skin.
One reviewer mentions that she was wearing this bug repellent in the mountains of North Carolina and not only did she not have a problem with bugs, but she didn’t mind wearing it all day.