How to make insecticide out of essential oils

Create your own essential oil insecticide to control pests both inside your home and out in the garden. Whether you are dealing with ants, flies, mosquitoes, or spiders, there’s a way to keep insects at bay without using harmful fumes. Say goodbye to toxic industrial sprays and welcome the sweet smell of orange oil instead. You can get results with all-natural pest management solutions. Producing homemade insecticide out of essential oils is easier than you think. We have put together the best tips for you to try it at home.

Several bottles of essential oils on a counter
Kelly Sikkema/

How it works

Essential oils are very powerful and concentrated solutions that have many uses. Some of them have similar effects on pests to those caused by DEET. They can kill bugs on contact, prevent them from eating, and deter them from coming back. They act in minutes and have no effects on humans when diluted correctly. For example, orange oil has an extract compound called d-limonene. This substance is completely natural and has been proven by science to kill fleas, aphids, mites, fire ants, house crickets, paper wasps, and some flies.

Which essential oils work

Depending on what type of pest you are fighting off, different essential oils might work. Some combinations also prove to be powerful all-around insect repellents but not as effective as single source mixes. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

• Citronella or Orange
• Eucalyptus
• Fennel
• Geranium
• Peppermint
• Cinnamon
• Lemongrass
• Tea Tree
• Clove Bud
• Cedarwood

Quick recipe

If you are looking for a quick way to get started, we recommend buying orange, cedarwood, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils at your local grocery store or online and combine them in equal proportions in a water spray bottle. Start with 15 drops of each type of oil for every 4 ounces of water. This will make a powerful yet gentle mix for indoor use and the perfect way to keep your plants, cabinets, and home free from harmful critters. Not only will you keep pests under control, you will be refreshing your home every time you spray.

Preparation is key

If you buy d-limonene from your gardening supply store, make sure you are using gloves to handle the orange essential oil. At high concentrations, it can irritate the skin and stain if exposed to the sun. Make sure you work on a flat surface to prevent spills and choose an open space with good air ventilation.

Heavy-duty application for gardens and produce

You can also create powerful mixtures that can keep your garden and produce patch free of harm while nourishing their roots. Organic farming experts recommend a recipe that includes 1 cup of compost tea, 1 ounce of molasses, and 2 ounces of orange oil per gallon of water. Shake vigorously and you have one of the most useful natural pesticides available. You can spray it both on top and underneath leaves, at the base of the stems, on flood ant mounds, and other terrestrial nests.

Four stacked bottles of essential oils
Priscilla Du Preez/

Making your own compost tea

The DIY Network suggests compost tea. It’s a great way to add beneficial nutrients and microorganisms to your plants. It helps keep disease away and works as a light fertilizer. It’s basically water used to steep compost for a long time. You can get it at garden supply stores, online, or you can make your own at home. Fill a sack with compost. Let it soak and rest in a deep bucket of water for a week. Stir it once or twice a day.
Keep your garden and home thriving and protect your family from bites and stinging insects with an all-natural alternative. Creating an insecticide from essential oil is a great project to do at home. It is fun to make and will leave that deliciously fresh citrus smell all around while keeping bugs and pests away.