Although my biggest passion in life is exploring the outdoors, being crafty with my outdoor gear is a side hobby that I have a lot of fun with.
When it comes to dealing with bugs, namely ticks, I definitely have some go-to store-bought solutions, but I also like to do some experimenting with what works at home. If I can avoid putting commercial chemicals on my body and instead use natural items I can make at home I prefer that.
Usually, this means gathering up a bunch of naturally deterring essential oils that ticks hate the smell of, and you tend to find the most success mixing these oils together.
The best homemade tick repellents for humans will be mixtures of plant-based essential oils that are well-known and proven to repel ticks. The best formulas include:
- An essential oil “mixup” including geranium, peppermint, thyme, and cedarwood
- A combination of thyme and citronella
- Clove oil
- Turmeric, which is effective in repelling ticks
- Rosemary Formula
- Rose Geranium
My favorite part about these mixtures is that they are safe for spraying around kids and around the house, and they can be much more versatile than store-bought repellents and I don't feel like I'm putting potentially harmful chemicals on my skin or the skin of my kids or pets.
These oils will require proper dilution and mixing, so be sure to read below to learn how you can make your own homemade tick repellent for humans.
1. Essential Oil “Mixup”
The strongest homemade tick repellent blend that you can make is a “mixup” of common essential oils that are well-known to scare ticks away.
The ingredients you’ll need to gather include geranium oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil, and cedarwood oil, which can be found online or at most food and wellness stores. You may also want to pickup a handy spray bottle or any covered container that can be used to apply the mixture.
Geranium, peppermint, and thyme oil all create a potent smell that masks our CO2 emission from ticks. The smell of CO2 is actually what draws ticks near our bodies, so spraying these oils on our skin, clothing, or around the house plays a huge part in keeping ticks away.
Cedarwood oil, however, can be surprisingly lethal to the nasty little things. Cedarwood can disrupt a tick’s pheromones, which are vital for regulating their bodily functions, and this can lead to dehydration, suffocation, and even dissolving their bodies outright.
Start with 1 oz of water, and add about 5 drops of each essential oil into the solution. You can use more than 1oz of water if you want to create a bigger batch, but I always try to maintain a 1:10 to 1:33 ratio of essential oil to water.
Essential oils, while natural, can still irritate the skin, so it’s important to not only dilute but test your solution before fully applying. This can be done by spraying a small amount on your skin to check for any adverse reactions.
If you do see some irritation, you can try mixing a bit of witch hazel into your blend, which will help reduce irritation or itching on your skin.
I usually let it sit for about an hour to settle before testing, after which it will be ready to apply or spray around the house.
2. Thyme and Citronella Combo
Thyme oil and citronella oil are a perfect pair when it comes to keeping ticks away.
A 2017 study that tested various essential oils in repelling ticks revealed that the composition with the highest repellency was a combination of thyme and citronella oil (91%), and you’ll be able to take advantage of this with a homemade tick repellent.
In the study they used 1.5% thyme and 1.5% citronella for a total dilution rate of 3%.
As with other essential oil solutions, you’ll want to mix thyme oil and citronella oil with water in a spray bottle. Ideally maintain a 1:10 to 1:33 ratio of oil to water (1.5 teaspoons in a 1 cup spray bottle). Witch hazel can be added to the formula if you experience any irritation caused by the essential oil.
Citronella is registered with the EPA as an insect repellent, which definitely proves it’s worth as far as repellency goes.
3. Clove Oil
- Clove oil (Amazon)
In this 2017 study Clove Oil was proven to be one of the most effective essential oils to repel ticks when used on it's own without combining it with any other essential oils.
It repelled ticks at a rate of 83% at a dilution rate of 3%.
Combine 1.5 teaspoons of clove bud essential oil with 1 cup of water to get the correct dilution.
4. Turmeric Formula
Studies have shown that turmeric has strong effects on ticks, and while pure turmeric is a bit impractical for use as a repellent in my opinion, a homemade turmeric oil solution could be used to protect from the parasites.
The University of Bristol conducted a study that showed that turmeric oil is able to inhibit the “climbing nature” in ticks, in addition to being longer lasting than other essential oils.
Their results also demonstrated that turmeric could be seen to be more effective than even the most common tick repellent ingredients.
- Turmeric Oil (Amazon)
If you want to create your own turmeric formula at home, mix 1 part turmeric oil to 10 parts water (as with other essential oil formulas).
What makes turmeric different, in my opinion, is that the powder form can actually come in handy as well. If you want to protect your garden or even the perimeter of your home from ticks, try sprinkling some turmeric powder.
The powder carries the same repellency as its oil form, and turmeric itself is actually one of the easiest plants to grow at home (if you want to make it truly homemade).
5. Rosemary Formula
You’ll find that rosemary is one of the most common essential oils used in store-bought organic tick repellents and for good reason.
Not only is it one of the strongest and most effective deterrents against ticks, but the odor is pleasant compared to some of the other naturally sourced ingredients used in repellents.
This makes rosemary great for adding to a mop bucket or at-home cleaning solutions, as it smells nice but can also keep ticks away.
- Rosemary oil (Amazon)
All you need to do is add a few drops of rosemary essential oil into your mop water or dilute it with water in a spray bottle, and it works great as an added layer of protection to keep ticks out.
6. Rose Geranium
Rose geranium is another highly effective essential oil that masks our smell from ticks, but a study also showed that a certain compound found within the extract can effectively repel ticks just as well as the best insect repellents.
- Rose Geranium Oil (Amazon)
You can actually find rose geranium being used in some skin care products, as it can have a healthy effect on the skin, although there is still a chance of irritation.
However, since it’s generally less irritating compared to other essential oils, you may be able to directly apply drops of rose geranium oil on skin, clothing, and other outdoor equipment.
For this reason, I found it especially useful as a “homemade” solution, but if you want to use it in bulk, I would recommend mixing it with water as with other solutions.