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5 DIY Homemade Fly Sprays for Horses (with Pictures)

Oliver Jones

There’s probably nothing that irritates your horse more in the warmer months than swatting flies away constantly. Any equine owner knows that flies can be a massive pain for your trotting buddies. Many commercial cleaners are harsh and not the best options for sensitive horse skin.

Luckily, there are several options that you can make right in the comfort of your own home. With minimal ingredients that are both natural and fresh, you can repel those pesky flies once and for all—letting your horse enjoy a lovely day grazing in the pasture without any discomfort.

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The Problem with Flies

Flies can cause considerable irritation for horses over in the warmer months. Imagine just standing there minding your own business and having hundreds of flies crawling on you. It sounds miserable, right?

Not only are flies just pesky, they can also bite your horse and irritate her skin. Some horses might be sensitive to the bites and suffer rashes or itching. No matter how they react, you need to make sure that you try to remove the problem as much as you can.

horse with flies_Shutterstock_JADA photos
Image Credit: JADA photos, Shutterstock

Irritant Disclaimer

Before you read about how to make these bug spray products, it is essential to understand that every ingredient has the potential to affect your horse negatively. Some horses will be more sensitive to other ingredients, so it’s necessary to look out for the signs.

If there is any visible skin irritation or unusual symptoms, discontinue use immediately. It will be important to learn exactly what the trigger was to avoid it in the future.

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DIY Homemade Fly Spray Recipes

These homemade DIY fly sprays are from several different equine-loving websites. Many hands-on, experienced owners have developed their own unique sprays that are inexpensive and easy to make.

Below are the ingredients and measurements for each of these sprays. You can check out each one to determine which you think would work best with your horses.

You can even take a few of these ideas combining them to make your very own concoction. Many horse owners get creative and come up with all sorts of these recipes and test their effectiveness.

1. Homemade Fly Spray

This simple but effective recipe combines the power of a few simple ingredients. This combination repels flies quickly, as they don’t like any of the components. You can mix this concoction and pour it into a spray bottle to spray on it at your leisure.

Unlike some others you will see on the list, this spray does not contain any water, so it isn’t diluted. For that reason, you need to be slightly careful about how many drops of essential oils you put in. Measure precise drops, and don’t overdo it.

  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 20 drops basil essential oil
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap

2. US Forest Service Bug Spray Recipe

If you know any Avon sales reps, you might be able to pull this one off. Avon skin so soft has been widely revered for being a product true to its word.

This recipe combines Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil with natural ingredients that should soothe and protect your horse’s delicate skin. Not to mention, this is a mixture that flies do not enjoy.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 tbsp eucalyptus oil
  • Optional: 2 tbsp citronella oil

3. Prairie Homestead Fly Spray Recipe

This next recipe will take mostly natural ingredients mixed with a little bit of dish soap. This concoction is extremely easy to make, you just have to make sure that you have all of the listed essential oils to begin.

This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of oil which can be any you so choose. The recommendation would be olive oil, canola oil, or mineral oil. However, you can also use cold-pressed organic coconut oil as well.

The only problem with coconut oil is that it can thicken depending on temperature. You need to make sure that the recipe is thin enough to mist through a squirt bottle.

  • 4 cups raw apple cider vinegar
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 20 drops basil essential oil
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons liquid oil
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap

4. Cowboy Way Basic Fly Spray

If you are looking for something inexpensive with a limited amount of ingredients, this one might be your pick. Combining only basic white vinegar with eucalyptus essential oils and water, this combination is said to be effective and repelling flies.

This is arguably the least expensive option depending on the items that you already possessed. White vinegar is generally very inexpensive, and eucalyptus oil is easy to come by. That shouldn’t take long to add these ingredients together and give your horse the relief they need.

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 cup water

5. Saddlebox 3-Ingredient Fly Spray

This incredibly simple DIY fly spray by saddle box is convenient and safe. If you worry about all of the extra chemicals or worry that you will use the wrong essential oils, look no further. This simple recipe only takes three ingredients which are Apple cider vinegar water and dawn dish soap.

Most people already have these items at home. Don’t worry about the effectiveness of this one, as many swear by its potency.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 squirts of Dawn dish soap

6. Reformation Acres Best Homemade Fly Spray

This DIY fly spray combines a few unique essential oils with Bio Kleen concentrate. If you don’t have that on hand, you can always use regular dawn dish soap.

This recipe was thought up after an owner was mortified by the number of chemicals they discovered in commercial fly sprays. This is supposed to be a natural alternative that is safe and healthy for our equine friends.

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1cup mineral oil
  • ½ teaspoon lemongrass essential oil
  • ½ teaspoon bitter orange essential oil
  • ½ teaspoon citronella essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
  • ¼ teaspoon clove essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons Bio Kleen concentrate or Dawn dish soap

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Fly Spray: Final Thoughts

Flies are annoying, and we all know that it’s true. Because many commercial sprays are dangerous to our beloved equines, throwing together your own recipe can provide them with relief while keeping them safe.

If you decide to go off track a little bit with any of these recipes, make sure that you study each essential oil to make sure that you’re not going overboard with any of them. Some essential oils are toxic, especially in large quantities. Just make sure you’re mindful and keeping your horse’s best interest at heart.


Featured Image: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.