Last winter was supposed to be a bad one. Where I live, it was really pretty mild. Yay for my husband, who works outdoors and isn’t a fan of snow or cold. And yay for bugs. Insects. Creepy-crawlies. Things that give you that feeling there’s one on you for days after you actually find one. Fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, and flies of all kinds are happy. Their larvae survived! And now that it is spring, they are plentiful.
Our new dog won’t generally go outside if I don’t go with him. We live in the country, with space to run and woods to explore, but “the mama” can’t be too far away. So in the first week of warm weather, I discovered ten ticks on me or in my home. Yuck! The dog takes medication to repel the little suckers, so while they don’t attach to him, they do go on to find other hosts, like me and my family. I really don’t have time to deal with lyme disease and other nonsense (AKA “horrible diseases”).
I created this blend specifically to repel ticks. Luckily, it should also do a pretty decent job with mosquitoes, fleas, and some flies!
On the Ingredients
Vinegar – You’ll notice I call for white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell of vinegar, so this is more than just a base liquid, it’s part of the stuff that works. I know you love your apple cider vinegar, but leave it in the cabinet for this one. ACV can actually attract some other pests!
Essential Oils – Generally, I suggest that you should always fiddle with your scent blends, to find exactly what you like. In this case, I wouldn’t fiddle too much. I worked hard to find the best oils with the right properties, and to find a balance that didn’t smell too hideous, but also worked! Altering the blend could alter its effectiveness. But hey, it’s possible it could get even better, so live your life, Jack. Don’t let me tell you what to do!
The tick count in the house is way down. While the number of ticks outside continues to increase for a few more weeks, anyway, the number on us has lessened. In fact, I found just one tick in the almost two weeks I’ve been using this. My daughter found another, but she frequently goes out without the spray. Teenagers. We haven’t changed anything else, so I’m really pleased! For folks who literally live in the woods, and walk under trees every day, that’s as good as it gets.
So far this year, no bites on humans. The one I found was scrawling on my arm, probably transferred from the dog. I do take other precautions, as I had done previously, and so should you! Wear a hat. Wear long pants and long sleeves when possible. Check yourself, your pet, and anyone who is unable to check themselves. Do it immediately when you enter your home. I actually have a pair of sweatpants or yoga pants that I keep near the door. I change when I go out, so that when I come back in I can quickly change back and check for critters.
How I Use It
Shake well before applying, and during application if you’re covering more than one person. Spray on shoes (especially laces if you have them), clothing, and hair. You may use this topically, but use caution! Patch test a small area of your skin to check for any adverse reaction. This is a high percentage of oils, and you may want to add an additional half cup of vinegar if you wish to use it on your skin.
Reapply every four to six hours as needed. Yes, you should still check yourself for ticks when you return home.
Who Shouldn’t Use It?
Because of the Eucalyptus and Rosemary, children under two should not use this at all. Children under ten should use it only on clothing and hair.
Again, this recipe is intended for use by human adults – or older kids. It is not intended for pets. I do not have the animal knowledge necessary to be confident in suggesting a recipe for your pet.
Mix It Up
So easy! Grab a glass jar. Yes, it really should be glass. Add your water and vinegar. Drop in the essential oils. Shake like mad. Use a funnel to decant whatever amount you need into your (glass) spray bottle. Don’t forget that the essential oils are trying to separate out as soon as you stop shaking, so prepare your bottles in advance.
There is a better way than shaking the heck out of the oils. But “better” is relative. Let me explain…
If you’re trying to stay all natural, which is the point, then this is the best recipe I have discovered. BUT, ticks really hate sulfur. Vegetable oils, canola oil, and almond oil contain sulfur, so adding two teaspoons of those oils to this recipe is a great addition. To mix oil and water, of course, you need an emulsifier. Usually soap. And now the problem. All-natural castile soap, the kind made from fats or oils and lye, the kind most of us love like Dr. Bronner’s and similar brands, cannot be mixed with acid. Acid like vinegar. When you mix real soap with vinegar, it returns to the oils it was made from. It becomes a goopy mess.
The solution is to take a deep breath and add two teaspoons of vegetable oil and one half teaspoon of synthetic detergent. Like ordinary, non-natural dish soap. Doing this will disperse both the vegetable oil and the essential oils much better. Far less shaking involved during application. But until I find a better method, the vinegar has won out over attempting to add the vegetable oil. I’m still seeking, and I’ll let you know if I find a better formula, for certain!
Handy Ingredient List
This gorgeous graphic is Pinnable, too, for your convenience!