Vinegar wins the day! How cool is that! It’s cheap, easy to get, totally natural and I personally love the smell of it.
CowboyWay.com did this awesome experiment on four different recipes which are all fairly easily sourced and then compared them to find which worked best.
(Another common solution not part of this experiment below includes a 50/50 Pinesol and water mix in a spray bottle however it must be noted this can be an irritant to the horses, is not made from natural ingredients and is probably much better used around the barn.)
Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #1
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Eucalyptus oil
- 1 cup water
NOTE: To learn more abut Eucalyptus oil please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.
For house flies and stable flies this recipe worked very well. In our opinion it worked better than several store-bought fly sprays we had recently used. It wasn’t perfect – the house and stable flies still landed on the horse but the actual bites he experienced were definitely less.
However, it was a different story with deer flies. When we rode the horse away from the barn and house and out into the pasture the deer flies swarmed to him like he was a free, all-you-can-eat buffet. The fly spray seemed to be of little or no help as the deer flies bit him constantly, all over, and in large numbers.
How Long It Lasted
This fly spray lasted between 45 minutes and an hour. It did work well for house and stable flies during that time.
For house and stable flies we liked this fly spray recipe. It only has three easy-to-mix ingredients, and the ingredients are all natural (remember, as we stated above we’re defining “natural” as an ingredient that is not a man-made insecticide). However, it did not work at all for deer flies.
Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #2
- 1/2 cup hair conditioner for humans (the kind you leave on for a minute or two then rinse out). We used an inexpensive generic brand without a strong scent (Suave).
- 3 Tablespoons Eucalyptus oil
- 1/2 cup baby oil
- Enough water to fill the remainder of a 32 ounce spray bottle
Mix the ingredients in a 32 ounce spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.
Like recipe #1, above, this homemade horse fly spray worked well around the barn and house, but was of no help in the pasture for deer flies.
How Long It Lasted
Also like recipe #1, above, this fly spray lasted between 45 minutes and an hour.
While this recipe worked about the same as recipe #1 it has more ingredients to purchase and mix, so is therefore slightly more complicated to make. We also didn’t like trying to get 1/2 cup of thick hair conditioner out of a measuring cup and into the top of the spray bottle. The conditioner kept plugging up the top of the bottle and using a kitchen funnel wasn’t much help. Since this recipe worked about the same as recipe #1, we prefer recipe #1 because it has fewer ingredients and is easier to mix.
Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #3
- 1 teaspoon Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 1 teaspoon Citronella Essential Oil
- 1 teaspoon Peppermint Essential Oil
- 1 teaspoon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 1 teaspoon Lemongrass Essential Oil
- 3 ounces Coconut Oil
- 12 ounces of water (after first putting the above ingredients into a spray bottle, this is enough water to fill the bottle to the 16 ounce line)
Note: Coconut oil is a liquid in hot summer temperatures (above 76 degrees Fahrenheit). In cooler temperatures, it is a solid. Therefore, coconut oil may not be suitable for a fly spray recipe unless the temperatures are warm.
Put all of the essential oils and the coconut oil into a spray bottle. Add enough water (which should be about 12 ounces) to fill the spray bottle to the 16 ounce line. Shake vigorously before every use, and occasionally during use. This mixture separates very easily.
Since essential oils can cause skin irritation, the first thing we did with this fly spray recipe was spray our own forearms and wait 24 hours. When we didn’t have any kind of skin irritation we tested it on the horse.
Epic fail. Unlike with the other homemade fly spray recipes on this page we never even got the horse groomed or saddled before this recipe failed. We sprayed him, and there was a brief pause when he was really damp that the flies and other insects slowed down for a few moments. Then, after mere moments, he went back to fighting flies as if nothing at all had been sprayed on him. We had to follow with a different fly spray in order to groom and ride him.
With this “fly spray” recipe, if you can call it that, our horse did smell heavenly, but as an insect repellent this homemade recipe was totally useless.
How Long It Lasted
This recipe is a total waste of essential oils and coconut oil. We like essential oils for some things, and love coconut oil as a mane and tail conditioner and homemade hoof conditioner, but when used together in this recipe as a fly repellent for our horses they didn’t work at all.
Homemade Horse Fly Spray Recipe #4
This is actually a semi-homemade fly spray recipe that is NOT all natural since one of the two ingredients is store-bought horse fly spray.
- 1 part white vinegar
- 1 part store-bought horse fly spay (we used a brand that had permethrin .25% as its active ingredient)
Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and store-bought fly spray in a spray bottle. Shake well before every use and spray the horse.
We feel like this semi-homemade fly spray recipe worked just as well to keep house and stable flies from biting our horse as when the store-bought fly spray was used alone. In fact, though it was hard to tell for sure, we thought it may even have worked slightly better. Although flies still landed on the horse the actual bites were greatly reduced.
When it came to deer flies, the mixture of vinegar and store-bought fly spray was helpful to keep them from biting the horse, but not as helpful as we had hoped. However, when the store-bought fly spray was used alone the results were only marginally better. In both cases deer flies still bit the horse in noticeable numbers, but slightly less than when no fly spray was used at all.
How Long It Lasted
This semi-homemade fly spray lasted about an hour, perhaps a little less. This is about the same amount of time the store-bought fly spray lasted when it was used by itself.
In our opinion the mixture of white vinegar and store-bought fly spray worked just as well for house, stable, and deer flies as when the store-bought fly spray was used alone. The mixture also lasted about the same amount of time, and since vinegar costs quite a bit less than store-bought fly spray using the mixture cut our costs significantly.