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DEET-free Mosquito and Gnat Spray

Colorado-based dressage rider Suzie Hallé makes her own bug spray to combat both plastic waste and the amount of harmful chemicals she releases into the environment. In 2019, the CDC tested and proved that eucalyptus/lemon oil works as well as DEET to deter mosquitos. I decided to try it out. I researched recipes and found that this recipe works the best to deter both mosquitos and those pesky gnats. I'm sharing my recipe because if we all do this, we can accomplish four things:

  • REDUCE Plastic Waste- use your own spray bottle again and again.

  • REPLACE Toxic Chemicals - use nature to fight nature.

  • CREATE Happier Horses - they love the smell.

  • SAVE Money - it's economical (1/4 of the expense of what you'd pay in the store).


  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

  • Vanilla Extract

  • Witch Hazel (or rubbing alcohol. I test both with equal results)

RECIPE Into an empty spray bottle mix:

  • 2 teaspoons lemon/eucalyptus oil

  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 16 ounces witch hazel

Reapply every four hours. When you run out, reuse your bottle to make more. WHERE TO BUY Amazon has everything. I went organic at first, but it's not necessary. In fact, I found both essential oils non organic at Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. Just seemed to me for one extra dollar, why not eliminate pesticides all together? So it's up to you- either way, it's better than toxic fly sprays. (If you're inclined, order certified organic oil in bulk at NOTE This doesn't work on regular stable flies and biting flies as well as our go-to off the shelf product. So, I use this literally to target the gnats and mosquitos and when they are most active. On the head, over the fly mask, and on belly and neck where the fly sheets don't reach-in the morning before turnout and during the evening out on hacks, and particularly in the stable when the mosquitos are particularly bad. A quick sprits on the bonnet before schooling also keeps bugs away when you are working your horse. I have just adored this spray and it reduces the amount of fly spray I have to buy significantly. i hope it works for you, too!

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