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Homemade Mosquito, Fly & Bug Repellent That Works Like Crazy

Four thieves vinegar is a concoction of vinegar infused with herbs, spices or garlic. It was believed to have protected users from the Great Plague during the medieval period.

Herbal vinegar infusions are used around the world for various aliments and have been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates. Making the infused vinegar takes several weeks in order to steep the herbs. This mosquito repellent recipe does not use vinegar. It’s kind of a quick version of the classic four thieves infusion. It’s still highly effective for repelling bugs, including mosquitoes, flies and other flying insects.

The herbs used in the four thieves infusion varies. Modern herbs used in many four thieves infusions include: sage, lavender, thyme, rosemary,  cloves, rue, mint and wormwood. As you may guess, the infusion doesn’t have to contain just four herbs.


2 tablespoons of each dried herb:

  • mint
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • lavender
  • thyme
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 8 oz of boiling water
  • tea pot or French Press
  • 8 oz of Witch Hazel
  • Glass spray bottle

Steep Herbs

Add the dried herbs and cloves to a french press or kettle and add the boiling water. It’s important that the vessel you use has a lid. You want to keep the steam inside the vessel so the volatile oils from the herbs stay in the tea.

Let it steep until the tea cools to room temperature. Once cooled, strain. A French press makes this step super easy!

Make the Spray

For the actual spray you will need to mix equal parts witch hazel and four thieves herbal infusion. I only have an eight ounce spray bottle handy, so I only ended up using half of my tea. Pour the tea and the witch hazel in the spray bottle, add the top and give it a gentle shake.

Now, if you want to use essential oils instead of dried herbs, that is fine. You probably should use about 10-15 drops of each essential oil (whatever combination you want to use from the “four thieves” list). I chose to use dried herbs because I have them in my garden and often preserve them by drying.

You can also use fresh herbs. If using fresh, you will need at least three times the amount of herbs vs dried. Why? Dried herbs are more concentrated since the water has been removed, making them stronger than fresh herbs. Use whatever you have available.

How to Use

Spray the herbal mosquito repellent liberally on your skin before you head outdoors. It will repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats, etc. The great thing about this bug repellent is that it is SAFE. There’s no scary chemicals such as DEET nor is there any worry of adverse reactions from using the repellent. Plus, it smells great!

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