Natural Insect Repellent: Fly Deterrent and Homemade Ant Repellent

Deter Flies, Ants, and other Insects with a Natural Insect Repellent

When I first moved into my home with Mr. A back in 2012, we quickly noticed a problem. Extremely tiny ants, marching from the kitchen window ledge a few inches over into the food cupboard, where they infiltrated a tightly closed jar of peanut butter! I needed an effective natural insect repellent.

Unfortunately, the solutions I tried didn’t work, and I resorted to Raid drops (kept carefully away from the cupboard, but pretty much doused the window ledge they were coming in from.

We were ant-free for six years… and then those same tiny little ants had found a new way in. Monkey or Fang had left small bit of food on the living room window ledge, which I didn’t notice. To my dismay, those itty bitty ants did notice. I needed an ant repellent.

I couldn’t use the Raid I used previously, because I now had two small children, and our four kitties frequented that window ledge. It had to be a natural insect repellent that was going to work, but be safe for my family. That’s why I sought out the help of Devin, a stay at home mom of five, who is an avid essential oil user and has a strong focus on keeping her home natural and healthy.

Raising five kids can be stressful to say the least. Add to it circumstances where two of the kids are split between two homes, the stress of changing schedules, changing rules, and different expectations from two households can get the best anyone. Along with that, germs get passed from house to house and back again.

Devin was tired of being stressed and tired of the constant doctor appointments and missed school days. So she did something about it. She educated herself on how they could stay above the wellness line and find relief from the daily stress.

Join her over on Happy Healthy Oily to see how they have discovered joy and well-being with essential oils. But first, check out her amazing natural insect repellent suggestions. (They worked quickly when I used them against those pesky little ants!)

Leave the Outdoors Outside, Please

My kids love playing outdoors.

They also love bringing the outdoors inside with them.

Many items become part of their precious “collections”: Things like rocks, leaves, flowers and even bugs.

I tell them time and time again, “the bugs belong outside”.

Their little sad faces turn around and take their new pets back outside where they belong. But they don’t always stay there and that’s no fault of the kids.

Like many homes, little insects and bugs like to find their way into ours. And while my kiddos are more than thrilled to have them in the house, I am not. Things like ants, spiders, flies… they belong outdoors.

Bugs Are Actually Pretty Gross

A poem about flies: If it's a fly, it should die.
Not only are bugs and insects flat out annoying, they can also carry diseases that we don’t want to be associated with.

Take a look at ants.

They are tiny. Oftentimes found in a long trail from some entrance of your home into a cabinet filled with sweet treats.

This trail of ants (or even a few ants) can carry and transmit serious disease pathogens. They are hosts for bacterial and fungal organisms.

And what about flies?

Ever stop to think about what flies often land on? Feces, decaying trash, animal corpses…

Then they find their way into your home and walk on your food, your countertops, tables, etc. Because of a fly’s lifestyle they are carriers of things such as salmonella, dysentery, typhoid, anthrax, cholera, and more!

Nobody wants to welcome these bacteria, pathogens, fungal organisms, and illness into our homes.

So oftentimes we resort to harsh chemical sprays or poisons to rid our home of these bugs.

The Problem with Pesticides

Here’s the problem.

As mentioned, these pesticides are poison!

Not only do they kill the bugs but they harm our bodies as well.

Many are known to have nasty immediate side effects such as causing headaches, nausea, vomiting, eye and skin irritation, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and more.

And what about the long term side effects we don’t immediately realize? The chemicals in these pesticides oftentimes contain endocrine disruptors, ingredients that cause cancer, reproductive issues, and long term serious illnesses.

I won’t even get into how dangerous these products are for our planet. The harsh chemicals are meant to kill and destroy and that’s exactly what they do. But to more than just the targeted pests – they are also harmful to you, your children, your pets, and the planet in general.

Natual Insect Repellent is the Solution

So how else can you help the annoying pests to “get out and stay out!”

Clearly, the best and easiest way is to keep them from coming in in the first place.

Make sure all your food items are sealed up tightly, and secure your home to keep them from coming in.

I don’t mean keep your doors and windows shut all the time. The fresh air is amazing and you should have your doors and windows open several hours a day. (By the way, did you know the air inside your home is more toxic than the air outside? Just another reason to keep those windows open.)

Make sure your screens don’t have any holes for ants or flies to come in through. Don’t leave any food out. Make sure the counters and dishes are cleaned immediately. Keep your floors clean and free of all food debris or sticky food residue. And very importantly take your trash out regularly, daily if possible.

There are also plants that can help. Check out this infographic:

Natural Prevention Using Essential Oils

There are also some natural, safe, and healthy methods you can use to keep the bugs away.

Many essential oils have natural insect repellent qualities, because they are derived directly from plants that have a biological defense system in place.

When distilled properly, this defense system ends up in the essential oil itself. (If not distilled properly, the essential oil compounds do not maintain their integrity and lose some of the effectiveness).

It’s also important to find a truly pure essential oil where there have been no additives or fillers. These additives and fillers can affect the quality of the essential oil thus rendering it ineffective or less effective than the pure essential oil.

There are many different essential oils that are a natural insect repellent so the bugs stay away.


Some of those natural insect repellent essential oils include lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, lemon, clove, cinnamon, and citronella.

How to Use Essential Oils for Natual Prevention

So, how can you effectively use these oils as a natural insect repellent in your home?

Here are my four favorite methods.

  • Vinegar and essential oil spray.
    1. Fill an 8 oz spray bottle ½ way with equal parts white vinegar and water.
    2. Add 10-15 drops of the essential oil of your choice and spray around your home. Ideally you would want to spray where you have seen the bugs as well as find where they are getting in and spray there, too.
    3. Leave the spray: don’t wipe it up.
  • Cotton balls and essential oils.
    1. Add 8-10 drops of the essential oil to a cotton ball.
    2. Leave in the area that is prone to attract the ants or flies, such as a food cabinet or near the trash can.
  • Alcohol (either rubbing alcohol or Vodka) and essential oil spray.
    1. Fill an 8oz spray bottle with water plus about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol or vodka (it helps the essential oil mix with the water better).
    2. Add 10-15 drops of the essential oil.
    3. Just as with the vinegar and essential oil spray, spray where you have seen the bugs. Find where they are going in and spray there, too.
    4. Again, don’t wipe it up.
  • Diffuse. This works better for flies than it does for ants.
    1. Pick one or two of the above mentioned oils and diffuse away.
    2. Not only will the flies not want to go near it, but your home will smell amazing as well. Bonus!

Homemade Ant Repellent and Fly Deterrent

I'm very much for making everything safe. The more natural the means we use to raise our vegetables and get rid of bugs, the better. ~Julia Child
But even with all our preventative maintenance, sometimes bugs happen.

Once they get in, then what?

There are several options for you to try.

Essential Oil Sprays

I always resort back to the spray solutions mentioned above. You can spray the solutions directly onto the bugs (clearly the ants will be easier to spray oils on than the flies lol).

They die immediately.

After you spray them and they die wipe them up and then spray the area again with the solution.

Borax and Powdered Sugar: Homemade Ant Repellent

This is one that works for ants, not so much flies.

Mix one part borax and 3 parts powdered sugar.

The ants are attracted to the powdered sugar so come to eat it, then the ants take it back to their home. But they are also taking the borax back, which is deadly to the ants.

Diffuse Essential Oils: Fly Deterrent

Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse.

You can use the essential oils mentioned above or try one of basil or ginger essential oils. Make turning on the diffuser part of your morning routine, and turning it off (or changing the scent) as part of your evening routine.

Pick one of these oils to diffuse in the area or room where the flies are present and they should fly off (hopefully to the outdoors) to a place that isn’t so repulsive to them. However, it could be tricky to get them to go back outdoors without more flies coming in.

If you get that contast exchange of flies (the flies leaving after smelling the oils only to be replaced by new flies that haven’t smelled it yet), I recommend the vinegar trap suggested below.

Natural Bug Repellent: Vinegar Trap

There are a couple different ways you an approach this option.

The first is to take a shallow dish and fill it about an inch with apple cider vinegar, then add dish soap.

The typical ratio would be two parts vinegar to one part dish soap, but exact measurements are not necessary.

The flies are attracted to the vinegar, but the dish soap helps to trap them.

You could also add a little bit of sugar to sweeten it up if you would like.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and poke some holes in it. The point of this is to easily let the flies in, but not let them escape so easily.

The other option is to take the same mixture but put it in a tall container such as a cup or soda bottle. Then make a paper cone to put in the cup (be sure not to touch the vinegar mixture with the paper). The flies will go down the cone and into the vinegar but won’t be able to get back out.

Consistency is Key

So there you have it.

Some of the best, tried and true natural ways to get bugs, such as flies and ants, out of your house and to keep them out.

As with any sort of pest control, consistency is key with upkeep.

You will want to spray frequently.

Also, be consistent with taking trash out, keeping dishes clean, and food tightly sealed and put away.

I know we enjoy our summers much more when we aren’t on a mission to eliminate bugs from our home, so keeping them out in the first place is best.

For more information on how I use essential oils in my home to keep us healthy and happy, please visit me at Happy Healthy Oily where I welcome you to discovering joy and well-being with essential oils.

Have you used an effective natural insect repellent in your home? What have you found to be your best solution when ants or flies find their way inside? Let me know in the comments.

A natural insect repellent, such as an essential oil diffuser like in this picture can be an effective fly deterrent.

A bug spray made from vinegar and essential oils, such as in this picture, or strategically placed scented cotton balls, among others are all great natural insect repellents to deal with unwanted insects indoors.

Spread the love and share with your friends. Or, love yourself and save it for later.
Devin Spies Contributor
This author would love for you to check out the links shared in the article above. Have a lovely day!

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10 thoughts on “Natural Insect Repellent: Fly Deterrent and Homemade Ant Repellent”

  1. My daughter loves bugs. She gets very upset when we even see a big truck out. Vinegar is our friend. She gets bit by ants because she sits on their ant hills. If there was only a way to stop her. Lol. Thanks for sharing!

    • I am so thankful we don’t live in a place with biting ants. (I mean, they exist here, but not at all common.) The only real time I’ve had an “encounter” with biting ants was on a camping trip with Cat… it was a B-grade horror movie scenario. It was terrible and rather terrifying. I think that’s the only time we gave up a camping trip because of wildlife.

  2. Loved the way you narrated everything. You gave a personal touch to the story. I totally agree with not using chemicals especially when kids are around. Go natural is my mantra too! Luckily we don’t have the bug problem in the place we live currently. But, all these tips will be definitely useful for me when I go back home. Thanks a lot!

    • We’ve been pretty lucky, too regarding bugs inside our home. A few flies make their way in each summer, and in six years, ants only twice. Hopefully, you’ll continue having good luck keeping the bugs outdoors where they belong.

    • I hope the solutions find you some relief. I successfully used some of these recommendations to get rid of some tiny ants that came visiting (kids left food crumbs on a window ledge and neither Mr A nor I noticed). During our summer, I plan to use them again for flies, which always seem to make their way inside.

  3. I will share this with my hubby. He does a lot of gardening. Bugs are the worst during a cookout! I will try this once spring comes!


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