It seems like ticks are getting worse every year and with things like Lyme disease to consider, it’s more important than ever to keep these bugs from coming in contact with our families. That’s why I make sure to always have this essential oil tick repellent spray on me every time we are outdoors.
We live in the woods of New Hampshire, one of the worst areas for ticks and Lyme disease. I try to use all-natural repellents with my family because I’m not comfortable using chemical repellents like DEET on my family.
Luckily, we’ve had great luck making our own homemade essential oil tick spray for my family. In fact, we haven’t found any ticks when we use it. And my kids play outside in our yard (with long grass) and the woods (where ticks live abundantly) almost every day. The only time I’ve ever found a tick crawling on one of my kids is when we forget to use our homemade tick repellent spray.
Essential Oils for Ticks
Erika Bragdon is a Certified Essential Oil Coach from the Essential Oil Institute.
The “secret” to repelling ticks naturally is geranium essential oil. Geranium oil (specifically the species, Pelargonium graveolens) has been shown in studies to be just as effective at keeping ticks away as DEET.
The Latin or scientific name is important here – that’s the Pelargonium graveolens part. Some essential oils are labeled Rose Geranium while others are just plain Geranium. That’s where the Latin name is key.
I have used both of these brands with great results.
From a cost comparison perspective, Rocky Mountain Oil has a better deal.
I have not used other brands and I can’t attest to their effectiveness. I’ve heard that some people have had mixed results with the NOW brand.
For more cost comparisons with popular essential oil brands:
Tick Spray for Dogs
By the way, you can make your own all-natural tick spray for dogs too. Click to grab the easy recipe—the last thing you want is to spend all the energy to protect yourself and your kids, only for your poor dog to drag in ticks.
DIY Essential Oil Tick Repellent Spray
Please read my Essential Oil Common Sense Safety page before using this essential oil recipe. I am not a medical professional and the information presented here is merely for educational purposes and not intended to replace medical advice. Do your own research, consult with your doctor, and make safe decisions for yourself and your family.
Essential Oil Tick Repellent Spray Ingredients
- 4 oz (or larger) spray bottle (this is the one I used in the photos)
- apple cider vinegar
- water (distilled, filtered, or spring water is best)
- geranium essential oil
- cedarwood essential oil
- citronella essential oil
- lemongrass essential oil
You can also make a roll-on bottle. You’ll need 10ml glass roller bottles for that.
You may have noticed that there is not a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil, recommended in this recipe. This is because I wanted to be able to spray this on my children’s clothes, socks, shoes etc without worrying about oil stains. You may replace the apple cider vinegar with fractionated coconut oil if you would like, just be more cautious when using on clothing so you don’t leave marks.
I prefer the essential oil tick repellent spray bottle because it’s easier and quicker to apply (with four kids), but the roller blend works just as well and you can be more direct about exactly where you want to apply it.
Related: Check out my essential oil bug repellent lotion recipe for even longer-lasting results.
How to Make a Homemade Tick Spray
Fill your spray bottle about 1/3 of the way with apple cider vinegar. You don’t have to measure or be exact. Apple cider vinegar may help keep mosquitoes away too so that is an added benefit!
I recommend using 30-40 drops total of essential oils for a 4oz spray bottle. This amount has worked well to keep the ticks away for my family.
Add 10 drops each geranium, cedarwood, citronella, and lemongrass essential oils.
Fill the rest of the bottle with water.
Bonus: Attach this free printable “No More Ticks” label to your spray bottle. You can download and print it here. (Right click, save, then print.)
Homemade Tick Repellent Video Tutorial
I also made a simple, quick video showing you how to make this homemade tick repellent. Check it out!
How to Use this DIY Natural Tick Spray
Shake before using each time to help mix the essential oils for a more even application.
Spray well, especially on your ankles, feet, and legs and anywhere you are more likely to encounter ticks. If you’re hiking in the woods, spray it on arms/shoulders etc too. (Always avoid your face, ears, eyes, and nose.)
I’ve used this on clothes without any staining, but as a precaution, I recommend you test an area before spraying this all over your favorite shirt. Just in case.
Bug Repelling Essential ↓
DIY Essential Oil Tick Repellent Roller Blend
If you prefer a roller blend, you can easily make one too. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand.
Essential Oil Tick Repellent Roll-On Ingredients
- geranium essential oil
- cedarwood essential oil
- citronella essential oil
- lemongrass essential oil
- fractionated coconut oil or your favorite carrier oil
- 10 ml glass roller bottle
Add 3-4 drops each of geranium, cedarwood, lemongrass, and citronella essential oils.
Fill the rest of the bottle with fractionated coconut oil. (Make sure you leave enough room for the ball stopper. I didn’t once, it wasn’t pretty!)
Add the ball stopper, then shake well.
Apply to the ankles, lower legs, wrists, behind your ears, neck, etc.
I spray or roll either of these essential oil tick repellent mixes on my kids once a day, usually in the afternoon when they get home from school. Unlike mosquitoes, I haven’t found that this needs to be repeated every couple of hours, but your needs may vary.
I still do regular tick checks on my kids, just to be safe. One of the best ways to prevent tick bites is simply to check for ticks and hopefully catch any BEFORE they bite!
- homemade mosquito repellent spray
- DIY bug repellent lotion bars
- essential oil blend for mosquito bite relief
Pin the image below to save the instructions for later!
I hope this all-natural DIY essential oil tick repellent blend works as well for you as it has for my family!
I love this!
I am curious if this is okay to spray onto a dog’s coat?
She is protected by medicine, but I still see them crawling on her every now and then, so was wondering if this could be used as extra protection for dogs too?
Hi Meghan, yes it is! I am publishing another blog post this week about using it for dogs. I add one or two drops every couple of days on my dog and it works well. Once I went 10 days without adding the oils and I did find one tick on him, so it does appear to work better when used more frequently.
I would like to know if it’s safe to spray on dogs also. I have a small shorkie dog and walking her on our road she came home with 13 ticks. She takes a monthly pill for fleas and ticks so they don’t really bite her. I don’t want them crawling in my house or on me either.
Hi Ginny, yes it is! I am publishing another blog post this week about using it for dogs. I add one or two drops every couple of days on my dog and it works well. Once I went 10 days without adding the oil and I did find one tick on him, so it does appear to work better when used more frequently.
Young Living sells the species of geranium you referenced!
I am doterra oil user. I have a question about other oil company. Which brands u prefer? I want to buy oils which doterra don’t carry.
Hi Rika, I love Rocky Mountain Oils: (my affiliate link: http://go.rockymountainoils.com/SHWl) RMO are high quality with 3rd party testing and have many of the same oils doTERRA sells, but they are less expensive. My next favorite company is Eden’s Garden and that’s the brand I used for this Rose Geranium oil. They are one of the better brands you can find on Amazon and sell some of the less-common oils you won’t find elsewhere. https://www.edensgarden.com/ I hope that helps!
doTerra does carry Pelargonium graveolens ~ listed as Geranium but always look for the botanical name.
Thank uou for great information! Does this deter mosquitos as well?
Unfortunately, not in my experience. I’m working on an essential oil blend that keeps mosquitos away. Pesky buggers!
Suppose you could add the Rose Geranium to a blend that repels mosquitos? Then you would get both actions in one.
The doterra geranium essential oil I have is labeled Pelargonium graveolens which is the one the study you mention says is good for ticks. So doterra def has it!
Thank you so much!
What size bottle did you buy? I am assuming you needed to make more than one bottle of the tick spray per season. I would like to make 5 bottles to give some as gifts.
The best deal right now is through Rocky Mountain Oils – you can get a 15ml bottle for $19.00 – my affiliate link: http://go.rockymountainoils.com/aff_c?offer_id=2&aff_id=1131&source=https://www.rockymountainoils.com/geranium.html&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rockymountainoils.com%2Fgeranium.html
I have that and the 10ml bottle from Eden’s Garden. We’ve gone through 1 whole bottle so far, so I think we’ll need at least 2 more bottles for the rest of the summer and into the fall, if not more.
Oddly, the Rose Geranium oil I found is Palmarosa, and Pelargonium graveolens is labeled Geranium. So if it’s really important to know the Latin name of the pill you’re looking for!
Yes, good point! Thanks, Kathy.
A question actually, when water is called for what kind of water are we talking about? Tap water, distilled water, filtered water, is there a specific kind of water being recommended?
Good question, Deborah! I didn’t even think about it because we have well water so don’t have any issues to contend with, like chlorine, etc. I would recommend distilled water in this case. Thanks for asking!
Where did you get the roller bottle from, and how big of a bottle did you get?
Thank you for your great information! You might like to know that Edens Garden has both Rose Geranium (Pelargonium roseum) 10 ml $21.95 and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 10 ml $9.95 and 30 ml $20.95, the species referenced in the study. These prices are from the Edens Garden website and they are less expensive on their own site than on Amazon’s. Just out of curiosity, what species of regular geranium oil did you use that wasn’t as effective as these two? As I have only used Edens Garden essential oils, I am not familiar with any other species. I’m sure I won’t be searching for it since you didn’t find it worked as well as the others. Ha! Whether you use P. roseum or P. graveolens in your DIY tick repellent mixes, do you use the same amount (i.e. 50 drops for spray, 30 drops for roller blend)? Thanks!
That’s great to know about Eden’s Garden’s. Thanks, Joanne.
Pelargonium x asperum was the species that I didn’t find to be as effective. And yes, I used the same amount for either species.
So which kind was better?
Lianne Keibler says
I see you say to put one to two drops directly on a dog. I was wondering if I could just spray them with the tick spray you listed above?
Yes, I’ve done that too.
Can I use this on my 2 years old?
Yes, dilute at a higher rate than you would for an adult and start with a small amount. It’s always smart to do your own research before you use essential oils with your family. ) Good luck and stay tick free!
Diana Inkelaar says
Would this recipe also be safe for cats? We have 2 indoor cats but our 3rd one goes in and our.
No, I would not use this on cats. My vet okayed putting a drop on my hand, rubbing my hands together, then petting my cat to get the oil on her fur, but it did not work for us.
Here’s a post with how to use this on dogs – https://livingwellmom.com/natural-tick-repellent-dogs/
We have three cattle dogs. Their job means they are in bush, high grass and every where in between. I have tried the tick collar, the topical oil that you run the oil down their backs starting at the neck to the tail head and the monthly pills. I can pick off as many as 15 or more every day. How much and how do you apply it to your dog. My dogs are approx 40 to60 ponds. Thank you for your answer in advance
Hello! Have you looked into certified organic Mountain Rose Herbs.com? They have a 1/2 oz bottle of Geranium pelargonium graveolens for $19.75 which equals 14.7ml. Thank you!
Hi Astrid, I have heard good things about Mountain Rose Herbs, but I have not tried their oils myself. I need to do some research on them. Thanks for the suggestion.
Do you have to keep this cool? Like in a fridge? I’ve read some recipes where they say fridge storage. Also, how long before it goes bad? Thank you! Great site!
I do not store it in the fridge – I’ve never had any issues with it going bad. I wouldn’t keep it in a hot car all summer, but a bottle of this should be fine on an indoor shelf for the summer. (We usually go through 1/month with 2 dogs in a tick-infested area.)
Does this have an apple cider vinegar smell to it, or are the oils strong enough to overpower it?
It definitely has an apple cider vinegar smell to it. If it bothers you, you can use less ACV.
Is it essential to use apple cider vinegar? Other than claiming an added benefit, does it do anything specifically to the mixture? Can it be replaced 1:1 with water or does it need to be alcohol or witch hazel or something? I do not want to replace it with oil.
Apple cider vinegar by itself has been shown to repel ticks. I’ve found our repellent has been more effective since swapping out water or witch hazel. But you can use water or something else like witch hazel instead. It’s up to you.
Moksha Lifestyle says
Oh, I love this, and need to read it again! you have the basics laid out so clearly! Great job,
Thank you for this. Very helpful. FYI-the link for citronella oil goes to cilantro oil.
You’re welcome! And thanks for letting me know – we’ll get that updated. 🙂
Your citronella link takes me to Cilantro. Are they the same?
No, they are different. Thanks for letting me know – we’ll get that fixed!