Is there a natural alternative to using bug spray? I’m looking for a safe bug spray solution.

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Is there a natural alternative to using bug spray? I’m looking for a safe bug spray solution.

Gnats, mosquitoes, and ticks are all unwelcome visitors to your hike, camping trip or picnic. And advertising folks would like us to believe that nothing works better to repel these tiny varmints than DEET. Now, DEET was originally developed by the US Military right after World War II, and I won’t argue against its performance. It is effective and lasts longer than home solutions, but a pesticide is a pesticide, and it can have residual effects in the environment. There have also been reports of some folks being allergic to DEET, and even having seizures. That’s not going to happen with any of these home remedies that I’m about to give you. You’ll have to apply them more frequently, but I think it’s worth the peace of mind to avoid putting a potential toxin on your skin.

Reach into your medicine cabinet for this first alternative. Turns out, what’s good for a chest cold is also a good bug repellent. Put Vick’s chest rub on your skin and/or clothing to keep bugs at bay; they just plain don’t like eucalyptus and menthol, the primary ingredients in Vick’s.

We’re going to head to the pantry and kitchen for the rest of our remedies. Some folks have found that increasing their intake of onions and garlic keep bugs away. Not surprising, as it may also keep friends and family at bay as well! Simply rubbing a slice of onion on your skin will work too. Citrus oils have always been fairly effective repellents. Take orange or lemon peel and bruise it to release more of the oils, then rub it on your skin. Surprisingly, vanilla is also good as a bug spray. Mix one tablespoon of pure vanilla extract into one cup of water, then apply it with a cotton ball, or put it in a small spray bottle. Personally, I’d much rather smell of citrus and/or vanilla than garlic and onions, and Grandpa likes it better, too. Win/win as far as Granny’s concerned.

My neighbor uses yet another kitchen staple to deter bugs – vinegar. If he knows he’s going on a long hike or camping trip, he starts taking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar 3 times per day about 4 days before he leaves. He also takes a spray bottle of vinegar with him and applies a mist to his clothing. No offense to Jack, but I’d still prefer to smell like citrus.

The herb garden is the next place to look for bug repellents. Basil, lavender, pennyroyal, lemon balm, lemon thyme, rosemary-these all work very well. I sometimes lightly crush the leaves and rub them on my arms while working in the garden (all except pennyroyal; that makes Granny rash.) However, I don’t have sensitive skin, so before you try that, it’s best to test just a small area of skin. Sometimes, all you need is a sprig of the herb tucked into your hat or sleeve to keep the pests away.

I hope I’ve helped give you some natural alternatives to store-bought bug sprays. This is just the way we do things, out here in the sticks. Come on back any time; Granny’s always glad to see you.

Love,

Granny

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The answer to "Is there a natural alternative to using bug spray? I’m looking for a safe bug spray solution."

Question asked on June 23, 2008at 7:51 am:: Comments (0)
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