Homemade Fly Spray Recipes for Horses

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock,but I’ve been making the switch from store-bought, pre-packaged products to homemade and all-natural products in many aspects of my daily living–from making my own natural laundry soap, dish detergent, and household cleaners to using only natural, whole foods and cooking everything from scratch (actually,this may be a shock for those of you that know me personally!)  Sure, it may require more work (especially in the cooking department), but I’m saving money and feeling much better about my reducing my impact on the environment.

I’m also making the transition to using more natural products for my horses and other animals.  This year, I plan to make my own fly spray.  I’ve done this before, but not with natural products.  I’ve put together a list of homemade fly spray recipes for horses–and most of them are all-natural.


Skin so Soft Recipe

  • 6 caps full of Avon’s Skin so Soft
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • a good squirt of Ivory liquid soap
  • mix with about 20 ounces of water


Citrus Insect Repellant


Easy Fly Spray

(Above recipes borrowed/ adapted from Moniteau Saddle Club)


Natural Fly Spray (from The Prairie Homestead)


Eucalyptus Oil Fly Spray (from The Cowboy Way)


Dr. Mary Brennan’s Recipe (from EquiSearch)


* An important note about the citronella oil–you need to purchase 100% pure citronella oil from a health food store or online.  Do NOT buy citronella oil from hardware or other stores that is meant for lanterns, tiki torches, etc., as it is flammable and not safe to put on your horse’s skin.

Of course, be careful not to spray any of these fly sprays into your horse’s eyes and remember, just because a product is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean your horse can’t have a reaction to it–although it’s much less likely to occur than with products containing chemicals.  A fly mask is always a good idea for keeping flies out of horse’s eyes and ears.  I tend to use these with my older horses (which the flies seem to bother more.)


fly mask


If you have your own homemade fly spray for horses that you’ve used with success, please feel free to add it in the comments section.

If you’re not the do-it-yourself type of person, you can always buy a natural fly spray like the one from Green Horse Organics.  See this post to learn more about Nancy and her products.



Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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56 Responses

  1. Summer says:

    Which one have you found works the best?

  2. jenn says:

    I’ve always used a version of the Skin So Soft recipe that also includes apple cider vinegar, water and citronella or eucalyptis essential oil and had really good luck with it against just about everything. It’s a 1:1:1 mixture. 1 cup sss, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 5-10 drops essential oil. Shake well before use.

    • then5925 says:

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Linda says:

        I have a question about 1 of the recipes it calls for light mineral oil and I don’t want to use mineral oil on my horse. I was wondering if I can substitute it with something else

        • then5925 says:

          I’m guessing the mineral oil is to help the fly spray stick to the horse better. You could probably replace it with Avon Skin so Soft or for a less oily version, maybe white vinegar or water. I haven’t tried that particular recipe though. . .

    • Chrfis says:

      Which Skin So Soft do you use??

  3. Lex says:

    Mineral oil????

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  4. Sierra says:

    Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe. Mineral oil is derived from crude oil and one of THE MOST toxic ingredients on the planet. Avon Skin so Soft is full of chemicals and harmful preservatives. Ivory liquid soap is for dishes, not horses.

    The skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs directly into the blood supply whatever you put on it. These products/ingredients are not safe for humans or horses.

    Essential oil blends are the only safe choice you have listed here, but still not the best. They are powerful elements that should not be applied to any animal unless by a trained professional animal aromatherapist.

    I would recommend a solution of pure aloe vera juice and neem oil.

    • then5925 says:

      Thanks for sharing, Sierra. I would still rather use the diluted essential oil fly spray recipes than a traditional chemical fly spray though. I use many of the oils on myself as well and have had great results.

    • Amy says:

      Though you comments were a bit harsh…not sure if that’s what you were going for or not…I have to agree. I wouldn’t put most of those ingredients on myself or my animals. My repellent of choice this year happens to be neem oil. I wouldn’t have thought of mixing with aloe. Thanks for the suggestion. Will it mix and spray on, or will it be too thick for that. How do you recommend applying it, and what ratio gets the right consistancy? Thanks again for speaking up.

    • Lorry says:

      How much of both? Aloe vera juice / neem oil Ratio?

      • Meika says:

        Does anyone know the ratios for Neem oil and aloe to make fly spray????
        Also- has anyone tried any of these home made fly sprays with any success??? We have 50+ horses on the farm right now and paying through the nose for commercial sprays that DON’T WORK!!!!!

  5. Michele says:

    I have a hard time finding a farrier in my area, let alone a trained professional animal aromatherapist. But I will definitely try the neem oil!

  6. Dianne C says:

    I’ve heard that Neem oil smells really bad, is that true?

  7. Butch says:

    I make my fly spray by the gallon in a plastic milk container. Use 2 cups white vinegar, 4 tbs citronella oil, 1 oz of 1 % permethrin (the kill ingredient in most fly sprays) and fill the balance of the container with water. The permethrin provides the quick knock down and is available at most any local farm store.

    This makes an inexpensive fly spray that is just as effective as the commercial sprays which cost $60+ per gallon. Don’t know why anyone would buy those… Like you should, I cover my horses eyes with a small towel if I am spraying around their head and ears.

  8. Kathy says:

    I am using 50/50 water and Pine Sol. Spraying on myself and works great to keep the flys away. But….is it safe to use on my horses?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kathy–are you talking about Pine Sol cleaning solution? I have no idea what’s in that, but I’m not sure I’d want to spray it on me or my horse! Do you know the ingredients?

      • Lin says:

        I’ve read pine-sol is a great fly repellent and I was interested in using it on our organic dairy. I went to researching it and found the following: “Contains toluene. Toulene has been linked to birth defects, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy complications, and even certain types of cancer. And yet it’s still included in tons of cleaners like Pine Sol.” Yikes! So, not using pine-sol here! Not cleaning with it anymore either!

  9. If anyone is searching for SSS for their horses. Please feel free to shop online with me!! I have alot of horsey friends who love this!! It is on special for March 2015… !


  10. Tony Smith says:

    All those recipes are good. Only a on skin so soft seems to work best for ticks.

  11. Jackie Thompson says:

    I have a fly spray system in my barn

    Have used Eco Exempt and Emulsifier

    What is a good mix for a fly spray system going into stalls?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Jackie–that is a good question that I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to. Maybe someone else will comment though. Something that I’m using instead of a spray though is the fly predators from Spalding. You should check them out if you haven’t heard of them.

  12. Kayla Martens says:

    My favorite fly repellent is all thrown in the blender at once

    leftover and dying geraniums –about 2 cups or 20 drops geranium oil
    2 cloves of garlic or garlic granules
    2 tablespoons neem oil-human grade
    1 cup white vinegar
    2 cups water
    Blend like mad for about 4 minutes, strain and put in spray bottle.
    Apply with a sponge around the eyes. Lasts 2 days but that’s about how long the natural stuff lasts. This is cheap and easy if you have a bunch of flowers in your yard like I do. Marigolds are good too since they contain pyrethrin.

  13. Jessi says:

    I didnt do any exact mesurements. Basically what i did was a cup of water, some gel baby oil (with aloe and something else) eucalyptus oil, some tea tree oil, white vinagear and mint water! Hopefully its good!

  14. Ivy says:

    How about using grape seed oil or olive oil as your carrying agent instead of mineral oil? That’s what I mix my oils in for use on myself. And I’m not crazy about the idea of using dish liquid. I have only just started researching essential oils so any input/suggestions/recommendations are much appreciated.

  15. Kay says:

    I applaude you for trying to feed yourself and family better! However, I hope you will reconsider using Skin So Soft and mineral oil on your animals. I would not use either. I’m sure you can replace them both with things that are not so toxic.
    Also, you didn’t say you were buying organic food but if not, I would encourage you to look into the GMO food controversy and stay away from GMO’s as much as possible.

    I am now feeding a fabulous NON-GMO feed to my horses called RENEW GOLD. It seems expensive but you will find that you feed far less of it than “tradition” feeds. My horses have never looked so good!

    • Casie says:

      Hi Kay–I don’t personally use the skin so soft in my fly spray. And thanks for your concern about our food–I do try to buy organic as much as possible and I’m fairly informed on GMO’s as well. I prefer not to eat them or feed them to my animals, but sometimes, it can’t be avoided. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic! Glad the Renew Gold is working well for your horses. I hope more and more non-GMO feeds will be on the market soon. I do think things are progressing, although I wish it would be at a faster pace sometimes!

      • Kay Butler says:

        Hi Casie,
        Glad to know….lol…I know that stuff works because we used to use it in FL at horse shows to kill the gnats.
        The GMO thing is a real problem. I have been working to get labeling. Not to make them stop but just to label it. I think we have the right to know what we are eating.
        Changing to a cleaner diet and cleaner products all around is a real challenge. The word “natural” is so misused.
        Have you read the information on the ReNew Gold? I have a 16.2 hand Warmblood mare and a 15.3 h Quarter/cross, and they are only getting 1/2 cup am and pm plus hay and are staying in really good weight.
        What kind of horses to you have?

        Have a great day!

        • Casie says:

          I totally agree on the labeling. I am religious about reading ingredients and labeling–especially since I’m gluten intolerant and choose to eat plant-based. But anyhow, my horses eat a forage-based diet. Very little in the way of concentrates. I have 2 pasture pets and 2 that get ridden a little these days. 🙂 They are all quarter horses. P.S.- you might be interested in my newer fly spray post:http://thenaturallyhealthyhorse.com/diy-natural-fly-sprays/

          Take care,


  16. jeanne says:

    what about garlic oil ?

    • Casie says:

      Do you mean taken internally? I don’t have any experience with that, but I know some people do feed garlic to keep flies and other insects away.

  17. Cathie says:

    My horse has a bad summer site on his neck. I drained it and mixed frankincense , myrrh and coconut oil. I soaked the site. Once a day. Not one fly! My day 3. It scabbed. It never reappeared. I made a spray bottle of it and now use instead of feedstore sprays. Whoo hoo

  18. Candice says:

    Here is a great blend of oils. I dilute it with coconut oil, witch hazel and water.


  19. Cindi Nave says:

    Candice, what do you mix with your oils to make a spray?

    • Candice says:

      Water, witch hazel and coconut oil. You can also you white vinegar, but my horses didn’t like that. Maybe it stings some.

  20. LORRI ALFORD says:

    Also, Avon still test on animals. Cruelly blinding them, maiming them, torturing them…until they gratefully die.
    Do you wan’t to promote that?

    • Beth Bailey says:

      Animal-testing is a major concern to everyone and as such is a hot topic. I understand that. The kind of animal treatment you describe is both horrific and unnecessary. However, Avon does not test, request testing, nor condone testing on animals. In fact, Avon was the 1st major company to stop that practice. Please do your proper research before bashing any company.

  21. Melanie says:

    My mare is allergic to Citronella , unfortunately most recipes have citronella in them ( probably because it is such a strong insect repellent. Neem oil does have a strong “garlic like” smell , but it works better than most commercial products , because , indeed the insect protection factor lasts up to 2 days. I can’t think of any commercial fly spray that lasts 1/2 a day , let alone 2 days. About the smell of Neem oil – my horses ( 3 Arabian Diva’s) like it. Isn’t it more important for the horse to be ok with the smell of things rubbed/smeared/sprayed on them ? I can endure the smell of horse droppings, amonia , cat litter boxes if necessary , so Neem oil ( also great for skin issues) is really no Biggy .

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