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Keep Your Patio Bug Free with an Essential Oil Bug Spray

With mosquitoes the size of birds lurking outside our house, a well-rounded bug arsenal is a must for the tropical Virginia weather. So, every year as summer kicks into full gear, I stock up on the homemade bug sprays, candles and repellents to keep the creepy crawlies away. Candles are great at keeping swarms of mosquitoes away from patios, and carefully selected plants can go a long way toward repelling the worst offenders.

For something a little stronger, and more targeted, than candles a bug free patio spray is the way to go. It’s perfect for spritzing on furniture, pillows, decks and plants when you need added protection but don’t want your skin and clothes drenched in bug spray.

Traditional bug sprays are filled with DEET, which has mixed results when it comes to your health. While the EPA says it’s safe to use on both adults and children, the laundry list of precautions on the side of the can tells a different story. Not to mention, traditional bug sprays smell toxic and leave your skin feeling greasy to boot.

More than anything, it’s that lingering smell and greasy feeling that sends me running for natural alternatives the first chance I get.

Things like citronella oil, basil, lavender and lemon are much, much safer. But I don’t always want them slathered on my skin or clothes either.

That’s where this patio spray comes in.

It contains essential oils that repel bugs and all the ingredients that mosquitoes hate so much, but it’s made specifically for spraying on furniture, railings, even plants – so you can reap the benefits without needing a shower when you’re done.

If you have the ingredients on hand, it should take just a few minutes to whip up. If you don’t, feel free to swap out ingredients for things you do have. Essential oils, like citronela, lavender, tea tree and clove, are the main ingredients in my bug free patio spray, but I also include vanilla extract and lemon juice for extra bug-repelling action.

But really, any combination of the following oils should work:




Tea tree






And if you plan to spray this on fabrics, even all-weather cushions and rugs, be sure to test it first. Lemon juice can have a whitening effect on certain fibers, so you’ll want to either spot test it or leave it out entirely to keep your patio décor from fading prematurely.

Essential Oil Bug Spray for the Patio


1 cup water

1/2 cup lemon juice

4 tablespoons vanilla extract

30 drops each citronella, clove, lavender and tea tree essential oils

16-ounce spray bottle


Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle, then screw on the top and give it a good shake.

Spritz liberally on patio furniture, railings, pillows, clothes or wherever you need extra insect protection. 

Use up or make a fresh batch every 2 weeks to prevent the mixture from going bad.