top of page

7 Top Ingredients for DIY Natural Fly Spray

Chemical fly sprays may hold out over the long run, but count on them also adding toxic chemicals to your body. Plan on it effecting the nervous system, containing carcinogenic ingredients, and if ingested even at the slightest, can cause poisoning, permanent damage to the digestive tract, and even death.

I don't know about you, but even when I am being careful about applying fly sprays, I still tend to get it everywhere. It ends up either on my clothes, on my fingers, in my hair, on the floor, in my eyes, and/or in my food. When I'm at the barn, I am always handling water buckets, food dishes and food, usually after applying fly sprays. Someway or another I end up touching things that have no business having chemicals on them.

When using natural ingredients and natural fly sprays I have no concerns about wiping leftover fly spray on my clothes, or handling food dishes and water after fly spray applications. No worries about killing the mice in the barn, and my cat eating them.

No worries and no poisons!

Here are some ingredients for DIY recipes I have used for my horses. In smaller amounts it can also be used on dogs.

Feel free to experiment with the recipes. There are endless combinations to create your own recipes. Below is a list of ingredients you can add to your recipes. There is no need to include all ingredients, or go ahead and include them all. Find what works best for you.

Some tips when selecting your ingredients & other tips to assist the battle against the bugs:

Do Not buy anything that has citrus scent to it -this attracts bugs

Do Not wear chemicals, deodorants, shampoos, or other scented products

Note that Ph levels can also affect how bugs are attracted to us and to our pets

Environment: Ponds, swamps, low lands and other still waters are a bugs breeding ground. This includes water that sits in buckets or elsewhere in the barn and around the home.

Eating citrus and sweet things can attract bugs. Such as molasses, honey, fruit, sugar, etc.

The feeding program your pet is on can also attract bugs.

Sweat, of course is a big attraction

Dark Colors

Here are some Ingredients you can use to create your own DIY fly sprays.


Distilled Water

Spring Water

Osmosis Water

Infused Water (see recipe below)

Your going to need water. I prefer to use distilled water. Anything but well water that has high iron content, or city water that sometimes contains fluoride and other unwanted chemicals. Does not mix well with your natural ingredients.

There are two ways I like to spruce up my water with some extra bug fighting ingredients.


Fresh Organic garlic cloves

Mason Jar, Jelly Jar or similar glass container with lid

Add several garlic gloves into your glass container of water that you can seal. Allow the garlic cloves to sit in the container for several days before adding it to your fly spray recipe. Garlic, I find, is one of the best and most effective ways to keep bugs away!

Epsom Salt Water

1 lb. of Epsom Salts

2 -1 gallon water containers (1 empty and 1 filled)

Place the Epsom Salts into the empty milk jug.

Add water to fill empty water container

Shake before each use

Add water to your spray bottle, for your fly spray recipes.

*You can always cut the recipe in half.

Epsom Salts

Water Containers

Spray Bottles

You will need a Spray Bottle. I usually get a 24 oz. bottle. But when filled to the top it is closer to a 32 oz. of liquid.

I find these are the best size. Not too big, not too small. But do what you need to do, to best fits your needs. There are a variety of spray bottles out there. Just be sure you can adjust the nozzle. I prefer that they are clear so I can see in them. However, it's important to keep them out of the sunlight and in a cool place of storage.

Carrier Oils & Other Natural Carriers

For fly spray recipes I prefer Neem Oil over all of them. Since Neem oil has it's own properties that repel insects. It is inexpensive and does not require refrigeration. I also use Witch Hazel and Castor Oil. Many recipes out there call for Skin So Soft by Avon or Mineral Oil. Mineral Oil blocks pores and keeps toxins from being released through the skin. I have a list of carrier oils (& other carrier's) that you can use to add to your recipes.

Buy Non-GMO products.

Buy Organic products.

Buy Vegetable/Carrier Oils that are quality.

Do buy fruit oils such as Apricot.

These are budget friendly options:

Coconut Oil (you can buy liquid oil so that it does not solidify)

Neem Oil

Light Olive Oil

Almond Oil

Castor Oil

GrapeSeed Oil

Witch Hazel

These are more options that are great for the skin, but not as friendly to the pocket book:

Argan Oil

Primrose Oil

Rose Hip OIl

Jojoba Oil

Sunflower Seed Oil

Safflower Oil

Avocado Oil

Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar

This is a key ingredient to your recipes. I would rate this a very important ingredient to add to your recipes.

Buy a Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) that is of good quality. Such as 'Braggs' Apple Cider Vinegar. I would not recommend going to the grocery store and buying the stores brand or any other knock off brand. I have done this myself, only to find that it attracted the bugs more then repelled them. I have no idea what they did to their ACV, but I had to dump several gallons of it, after stocking up, because the poor results I got from that choice. I have even tried getting a quality ACV, and I have determined that White Distilled Vinegar is the best bug repellent when it comes to having vinegar as an added ingredient in the DIY recipes. I prefer Heinz over other brands, the sometimes pungent smell of vinegar is not as strong with Heinz.

Your choice. Try the ACV to see how you like it, maybe you'll have better luck then I did.

Gels & Lotions

If you are really ambitious you can make some bug bite and/or repelleant gels and lotions. Gels and lotions are good to use on areas where the skin is more sensitive, or spraying is not an option. Such as around the eyes, ears, or genital areas. Before we get into adding essential oils, remember to avoid essential oils around these very areas. You must dilute, dilute, dilute before applying anything around the more delicate areas. Avoid even diluted essential oils around the eyes.

Aloe Vera Gel - must be refrigerated after opening bottle and has a short shelf life (usually 1-2 months). If you do add essential oils, only make up enough to use for one time, so as not to store the gel and oils in the fridge. Aloe Vera applies to the skin and hair of animals very well. It isn't sticky, absorbs well into the body, no greasy residue, and surface drys quickly. Easy to use, but the down side is having to make up what you need at each use. Having leftover of product is another issue.

I love using Aloe Vera for surface cuts or scrapes that just need a little boost to start healing. Remember to never place a 'neat' (undiluted) essential oil directly into a cut or wound. Do NOT add essential oils to your Aloe Vera Gel to place around eyes. You could place place Aloe Vera gel with essential oils on the outside the ears to help deter bugs.

To each their own, but I prefer to make bug deterring recipes in big batches, and have it handy and ready to go for the long stretch of time. Aloe Vera is not one of those products. However, I will go to great lengths to keep my horses comfortable. Those crusty, bleeding, bumps from bug bites on my horses chest, also around their genital areas, and in-between the front legs on the fold of their skin. Wherever the skin is thin, there is where they hit! A soothing, cool Aloe Vera gel blended with a mild essential oil such as Lavendar or Tea Tree would be good to use on bug bites.

In addition to Aloe Vera for assisting in the healing process of bug bits, a lotion or bug repellant salve would be handy to have. To heal the bites that are there, and to repel any others that might come back!

Here are some Ingredients to create those recipes:

Coconut Oil (for these recipes you can buy coconut oil that is NOT liquid)

Shea Butter

Aloe Vera Gel

Your Favorite Carrier Oil (Tip: Neem Oil. Tip: No fruity smelling oils)

For some examples to get you started. Combinations that would be great as a salve: Shea Butter mixed with Coconut Oil OIl, adding Neem oil (small amount without losing the salve like consistency) and a 1-3 essential oils. Depending on the size container you make up will depend on the amounts of each. Experiment. Start in small amounts. Record the amounts you use, then you can adjust the amounts as you create your perfect masterpiece. Label your containers. Then you know where to start over, or what to duplicate if its a winner!

I like to mix Argan oil (just small amount) with Coconut Oil and then add my essential oils (2-3).

Liquid Soap

Bonner's Castile Soap

Dish Soap (quality product that does not have chemicals, no fruity smells that tend to attract bugs)

Many DIY fly spray recipes call for adding liquid dish soap, because it is effective. It is inexpensive ingredient that can last you years to come. However, it is not recommended to use prior to a horse show event (or dog event), because it attracts dust and dirt to their coat.

Using the 24 oz. spray bottle you would add 1-2 T. of your Castile or Dish Soap.

Essential OIls

Remember to only use therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe to use with animals. To learn more about how to choose a quality therapeutic grade essential oil visit this blog post, "choosing a quality essential oil" :!Essential-Oils-for-Pets-Getting-Started/cmbz/D5A6AE87-034E-49B1-B6A3-F244BEB44583.

There are many oils that you can use, here are some of the most popular used oils for bugs.


Black Pepper








Tea Tree


There you have it. Most important ingredients to make your own fly spray recipes. It is economical, safe and offers health inducing benefits, instead of chemical toxicity to the body. Be realistic about your expectations with natural fly sprays. Truth is there is no fly spray, short of gasoline itself that will protect your horse's 24/7, or for the long haul. Natural fly sprays may need to be applied more frequently as opposed to chemical sprays, but the benefits will out weigh the consequences.

After using every type of fly spray from the most toxic fly sprays to the middle road ones, to the natural, and the DIY recipes, I determined that there is no perfect spray. So much time (and money) was spent searching and trying out different fly sprays that would stop annoying and stressing out my horse. What I needed to do was adjust my gauge of what was considered successful. If I could have my horse's stomping and tail swishing activity lessened to a comfortable degree, then I knew I had something that was working. Stopping it completely was not realistic, especially during peak fly season. If I could considerably decrease bug bites to my horse in his most common bite areas, then I felt that was a success. Then if I could do all of that without harming my horse or adding toxins to his body, then it was even more successful.

Enjoy the process and don't be afraid to experiment!

bottom of page