Homemade fly spray for horses


When picking a fly product for your horse, you have dozens of options at the store. You also have the option of making your own fly spray.  Get thee into the kitchen and whip up a batch of homemade fly spray for your horse.


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What’s the best recipe?


  • I have no idea. The internet is chock full of recipes, how do you know what’s best? I’m here to tell you that I don’t have an answer for this one. Not even close. I’ve often been fascinated by the simple ingredients and the “friendly” nature of making your fly spray, but for ME, the reality is that I like the convenience of picking up a bottle of fly spray at my feed store. There. I said it.


  • However, in the name of learning, having an open mind, and even being a bit more “green”, I have compiled some information about ingredients for homemade fly sprays. This will hopefully be informative and perhaps even entertaining.



Fly magnet.


Homemade horse fly spray ingredients


  • Avon’s Skin So Soft. This is the holy grail of fly spray ingredients for the do-it-yourself-er. This is a product designed as a mineral oil-based moisturizer for humans, and it does contain chemical ingredients. The entire line of Skin so Soft products includes some specific bug-repelling lotions, as well.


  • Citronella oil. There are two kinds of citronella oil – the highly concentrated pure essential oil and the highly dangerous flammable type used to make tiki torches burn. Go for the first type! Use these in a heavily diluted mixture, a little bit goes a very long way. For more information on essential oils and horses, you can read these amazing guest blogs, part one and part two.


  • Citronella oil is effective at repelling mosquitos and also stable flies, as well as having a nice smell. Some people report that citronella attracts bees.


  • Eucalyptus oil is another choice, although it is hard to tell from the lack of research what this oil repels. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an ingredient that is EPA registered for mosquito repelling. As with Citronella oil, eucalyptus oil is highly concentrated.


  • Dish soap. Many of the recipes for homemade fly sprays contain dish soap. I have seen recipes with just about every brand of dish soap. This is used as an emulsifier so that the oils and water in your concoction can mix, and stay mixed together.




  • Vinegar. About half of the homemade recipes specify white vinegar, the others say apple cider vinegar. Perhaps it depends on the smell that you prefer?


Gray areas


  • I was also unable to find any research on what types of bugs that vinegar repels, although there are tons of stories about vinegar as a bug repellent, and in some cases, a bug attractant. I also found lots of references to apple cider vinegar used as a topical treatment for insect bites. Vinegar used topically can also create a great sheen on your horse.


Attack all stages of the fly’s life cycle.


There is no use in making and using the best fly spray if you are not tackling ALL aspects of fly control at the barn. 


  • Keep your horse’s stall and paddocks free of fresh manure and urine.


  • Use fly predators to eat larvae so they don’t even hatch.


  • Bust out the fly traps. Put them in places away from your horse to lure the flies over there.


  • Use fly masks and fly boots. Stomping is no fun.


  • Remember that flies hunt for meals differently – some hunt by sight, some by smell. Your fly spray won’t cover all of them.



An easy way to protect your horse’s legs.



Use caution 


When choosing a fly spray for your horse, you have zillions of choices. If you do decide to go the homemade route, here are a few thoughts when it comes to being the chef:


  • Try a very diluted product first, lots of water, tiny amounts of oils. Oils (and any ingredient) can cause reactions.


  • Test on a small area. Don’t use your first batch and soak your horse!


  • Use in combination with fly sheets, fly masks, and fly boots.


  • Attack all areas of the farm, working to eradicate all stages of the fly life cycle!


Try this recipe:


  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 cups vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. oil (or less)
  • dollop of dish soap
  • dollop of Skin So Soft


Again – a patch test is critical here to be sure your horse won’t react. Use the upper inner portion of your horse’s leg for a patch test. Add fly protection and traps, and you will hopefully be ahead of the game!


How to do a patch test on your horse




For fly-busting products, you can pick up these to add to your arsenal. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which are at no additional cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Fly predators!

This fly spray is weird but also great for certain types of flies


Empty Plastic Spray Bottle 32 Ounce


Shoofly fly boots – AKA Shoofly Leggings


horse wearing sox for horses on mat

Sox for Horses – for any skin funk, fly problems, summer sore, stomping, etc.

Cashel Crusader Horse Fly Mask with Ears and Long Nose – select size


Cashel Quiet Ride Standard Horse Fly Mask with Ears for riding


Another style of long-nose fly mask for horses


How about some fringe?

                                                           This fly mask is also great for use under grazing muzzles to prevent rubs. 



Cashel Quiet Ride Bug Armor – 2 Piece Set

Amigo Mio Fly sheet – I love this one, the extra long tail prevents bugs up the butt, and the neckpiece is great. It’s also super light, which means it tears easily.

                                                                                                Zebra prints are said to confuse flies.


Thank you!