Homemade Tick Repellent: Spray That Works and Is Backed By Research!

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Homemade Tick Repellent Spray DIY

Have trouble with ticks? This natural DIY homemade tick repellent spray is a simple recipe with natural ingredients that actually work!

Is it me, or is tick season worse than ever this year?

This year alone I have found five ticks on myself and my two children. We have a relatively small yard in a small town, but we still seem to have many ticks around.

Homemade Tick Repellent Spray

For months I have been searching for a natural homemade tick repellent. I’ve come across a lot of recipes for at-home tick repellents, but very few cite ingredients and research. I’m always hesitant to try something if there is not enough research to prove it works – especially when it comes to my kids.

Research-Based Natural DIY Tick Repellents

Essential oils are often wonderful insect repellents, but I had heard little research when it came to ticks. I know that geranium essential oil is effective against ticks thanks to this great article on the Tisserand Institute.

The article cites several studies indicating geranium essential oil can be an effective homemade tick repellent. This study examined 10 different chemotypes of geranium essential oil and found them to be quite effective. The best part: geranium essential oil is safe to use around kids.

Another oil mentioned in that study is cedarwood essential oil. This makes sense to me because many people use cedar chips as a form of natural tick prevention around gardens and yards. This 2014 study indicates that Virginian Cedarwood can repel ants and kill ticks. Cedarwood essential oil is also safe to use around children making it great for our homemade tick repellent.

Next, I looked to the CDC’s guidance on natural tick repellents. They have a great article here that details some natural tick repellents and the research that supports them. Among these is garlic essential oil. I have never used garlic essential oil before and I’m a certified aromatherapist! Quite honestly, the smell alone is enough to keep me away. However, this article cites that many people use garlic in lawn care applications. Another study I found here also confirmed the effectiveness of this oil against ticks.

Important Notes & Precautions

Garlic essential oil can irritate the skin so use it at very low dilutions and not with children under 2. It also inhibits blood clotting, so it should not be used with people who are taking blood thinners. I feel comfortable using garlic essential oil with this homemade tick repellent recipe because I intended to use it on our clothes, not our skin.

While essential oils are wonderful, you should dilute them in a carrier oil if you want to use them on your skin or in a spray. I knew I wanted to make a spray for clothes as we do a lot of walking. Oil and water do not mix. Any time you put essential oils in the water you can guarantee they will separate. However, if you mix essential oils with a bit of high-proof alcohol they will disperse more easily. I typically choose grain alcohol because I can buy it at my local liquor store. You can also choose isopropyl alcohol, but it is actually only 70% alcohol while grain alcohol is 95% alcohol. It will work, but not as well as grain alcohol.

Homemade Tick Repellent Spray DIY

Homemade Tick Repellent for Clothing & Shoes

5 from 3 votes

Have trouble with ticks? This natural DIY homemade tick repellent spray is a simple recipe with natural ingredients that actually work!

Prep Time
5 minutes
4 ounces



  1. Fill a dark colored spray bottle with 1 ounce of grain alcohol.
  2. Carefully measure in 30 drops of geranium essential oil, 30 drops of cedarwood (Virginian) essential oil, and 10 drops of garlic essential oil.
  3. Screw on cap and shake or mix well.
  4. Fill with remaining 3 ounces of distilled water.
  5. Shake to mix well (shake before each use).
  6. Spray on clothing and shoes.
  7. Store in a cool, dark area away from light.

Recipe Video


This recipe is only intended for clothing. Some of the essential oils in this blend can irritate skin, but they will work great on hiking boots, pants, and shirts. Also, you’ll want to use this DIY tick repellent with adults and children older than 2.

Made this recipe?

Mention @diynatural or tag it #diynatural!

Hopefully, this homemade tick repellent recipe will keep you as tick-free as it does us!

What if you are bitten by a tick?

If you are bitten by a tick, there are some steps you should take immediately after noticing the bite. This article covers what you can do: How to Remove a Tick Once You Have Been Bitten


About Katie Vance

Katie is a wife, mother, aromatherapist, and lover of all things DIY. She offers consultations and gives simple aromatherapy advice at Katie Vance, Aromatherapy Simplified. You can also find Katie on Facebook.

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  1. Denyse says

    Lots of comments on this repellent.
    Thanks for mentioning that it should not be used on animals.
    Then, is it possible to give us a recipe for them?
    I guess it would be TWO different ones since cats and dogs can get affected by the ingredients differently…


  2. Sherry says

    When my dog got fly bites, I mixed lavender E. oil with vaseline. It was healing and sticky. worked well. Putting essential oils on the skin, neat or diluted, is a BIG difference than spraying on clothing. You can use stronger oils on clothes and to spray on the grass. Please remember to be careful of your pets as before mentioned. This formula was for CLOTHES, not pets. I always use oils on my dogs collar. I also spray blue listerine in mosquito areas. They clear out FAST! So I can pick my rhubarb. I get it at the Dollar Tree. Works better than OFF! I spray my pant legs and shoes as well. Likely the menthol and peppermint in it 😉

    • Brianna Hernandez says

      Moonshine. They have it at the grocery stores in the liquor department.

    • Karen says

      Any alcohol made with grain… Vodka is made from potatoes or wheat or rye or grains. Whiskey is made from corn or rye.

  3. Karyl says

    Does anyone have a good repellent for flies that chew on the tips of my German Shepard’s ears? Tried so many things and have had no sucess.

    • Richard Lucey says

      Lavender, basil, thyme, lemon eucalyptus, lime, peppermint and bergamot are useful in repelling flies. Check with your veterinarian first before applying any essential oil on their coats however. Dogs and cats react differently and some oils, such as tea tree, are toxic to them.

  4. Linda Kiehne says

    Where I live in Australia we only have septic tanks, so we channel our grey water (laundry water) out into the back yard. Will this washing water (that has my newly sprayed tick kill in it) kill the good bugs in my grass or garden. We spread this grey water over fruit trees too.

  5. pearler says

    Okay , good point now a couple more . Look on your property for barrels , tubs ,buckets anything with the ability to have a gap under it . Turn them over . You should be prepared for a lot of ticks . I use a weed eater gas/oil mix ,pour on ticks and lite. Keep looking and keep your grass mowed . Ticks get on and off a host three times and go to those places I mentioned . Then they get on the top of a blade of grass for a host to walk by and they attach to it . You catch them at one of their three gather mes . Won’t be but a season or two and they will be almost no more. Promise.

    • Katie Vance says

      Worth it! These essential oils can be used in so many ways, not just as a tick repellent. Diffuse them, put them in creams, make a bath salt, the list goes on!

    • Brianna Hernandez says

      Hobby Lobby has the Essential oils in the candle area. $6.99 per 15ml bottle. They will last years if kept in a dark place.

  6. Dottie Finfrock says

    I have a question: INSTEAD of using Garlic in this recipe, could I add Lavender E/O instead? I put Lavender on my dogs’ collars to ward off and repel fleas. I also add Bragg’s ACV to their drinking water to fight fleas and also for their well-being, as it’s good for them. This seems to work, as I haven’t seen a flea on them or in the house! But ticks are another enemy altogether!

    • Katie Vance says

      You definitely could add in Lavender although it isn’t as effective as garlic for repelling ticks. Glad to know some extra flea repelling tips, thanks for sharing!

      • Peg says

        Garlic is very toxic for dogs. All herbs in the onion family are. I get alarmed when I see people recommending things that are harmful to pets. There are many oils, herbs and foods that can kill pets not only from ingestion but through absorbing, & inhaling. Tea tree and lemon are toxic for dogs as well and vicks is a scent they hate very much and is often used as a pet deterrent. Pet food companies are already poisoning pets so owners shouldn’t add more just because it’s natural.. Please thoroughly search for a list of harmful ingredients that pets shouldn’t have because it could save a life.

        • Karen says

          I’ve been researching for 8 yrs. Its my understanding that fresh garlic, when given correctly can be beneficial, garlic essential oil on the other hand, is not recommended, which made me wonder how much research has gone into this page… in fact, there’s a lot I question on this site.

        • Benny says

          This surprised me as I knew a woman on a horse farm who had big dogs and she would give them cloves of garlic. She said that their breath was atrocious but they never had problems with fleas or ticks.

  7. Brigette says

    I didn’t see anything in your link about Rose Geranium oil. Is that as effective as Geranium oil? And I’m also curious if I can spray this on my dogs coat?

    • Mary says

      My sister and I have been using rose geranium oil since the beginning of May. I have the woods surrounding my house and she does a lot of trail running. I’d found 3 ticks in a week on my dog, and she said even in her back yard (which is suburban) she was pulling off ticks left and right. We did some research and decided to try the rose geranium oil. I put a tiny bit (probably 2 drops?) On my dog’s collard and the tongue of my shoe when we’re going outside. My sister does the same except she puts a drop above the tail on the hips and of dot near or on the collar. Her dogs are labs mine is a small mix about the size of a corgi. She does the 2nd drop for coverage, although this stuff is so good she probably doesn’t need the 2nd drop. In 2 months not a single tick between us. After they were everywhere. Idk, but I sure love IT! Good luck!

    • Katie Vance says

      In the study linked above, they actually used 12 different types of Geranium. I’m thinking rose geranium was one of them, but if you click the study, you can find them all.

    • Callie Hendricks says

      I also wanted 2 know if it can be used on dogs both of mine r full grown 1 weighs 73lbs the other 42lbs. I appreciate ur time. Thank u

    • Katie Vance says

      Cedarwood and Geranium should be safe for dogs, but garlic is not. I would omit that from the recipe and just put the rest on your dog’s collar.

  8. Richard Lucey says

    Great article. The only thing I would add however would be to add the essential oils first before adding the other ingredients to take advantage of the synergism of the combined oils.