Easy Homemade Fly Spray

easy homemade fly spray
This quick homemade fly spray for horses is so easy there's no excuse NOT to try it! With just one ingredient it's perfect for those "I'm late for a lesson, the tack store is 20 min away, and there's flies the size of bats" kind of days (and we've all been there).

Thanks to my procrastination when it comes to buying fly spray, I've tested this out in many situations from horse shows to trail rides. While it doesn't pack the same kind of punch as a heavy duty spray like Absorbine, it's guaranteed to be better than nothing. Plus I'm always up for the challenge of a wallet friendly, DIY option.

Are you ready? Grab an empty spray bottle (here's a cheap 3 pack) and fill it with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). That's it! Now here's the catch: Not all vinegar is created equal. While the regular store brand can work, it's not nearly as effective as unpasteurised, organic ACV. I didn't believe this myself until I tried it, and now that I use it for my face & hair (check back for future posts on this) I REALLY notice. I order this Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar by Bragg (1 gallon) because it lasts forever, but some grocery and health stores carry it as well.

If you're feeling ambitious you can add more easy-to-find-around-the-house ingredients to  give you extra fly protection. Here's what I've had success with so far:

Avon Skin so Soft - This stuff smells great and is a perfect DEET free bug deterrent for both horses and riders.

Liquid Dish Soap - A little of this goes a long way so use sparingly! I've only tried DAWN , but other brands should work.

Citronella Essential Oil - You can order this online or pick it up at a health store. A small 10ml bottle will last quite a while since you only need a few drops.

Lemon Juice - Bugs seem to have a strong dislike for this stuff.

Commercial Fly Spray - Don't throw out those last few drops stuck in the bottle! Add it to this mix to stretch your budget.

If the smell of ACV happens to make you gag, or your equine partner is particularly sensitive I highly recommend diluting this mixture with water up to a 50/50 ratio. The less AVC, the more often you should reapply. Like all fly sprays, it shouldn't be sprayed near the eyes or nose (I spray it into my hands and rub it onto their face). Works great for dogs too!

Looking for more fly spray options? Check out Natural Fly for Horses + DIY Recipes.


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  1. I had a mare with extreme fly sensitivity. They would bite her non-stop and then she would rub or chew herself raw from the sting. I tried every kind of fly spray, repellents, sheets, kept her indoors and eventually had the vet give her a vetalog (?) injection. The relief she received from the injection was brief at best and I was warned of the possible complications of steroid injections of this type. I tried feed through supplements, garlic and added apple cider vinegar to her water. Still no relief. Then I read online that someone had misread a post about feeding ACV to horses for relief and instead applied to the horse directly. She had great success so I thought I'd give it a try. What do you know....it worked. Twice a day for 2 weeks I would soak a rag in ACV then wipe my mare down paying extra attention to her chest, neck and legs, the areas most bothered by the flies. Within days I saw a reduction of rubbing a chewing on herself. Then the sores scabbing over, healing and the fly stopped biting. After 2 weeks I cut down to once a day and then after all another week put the ACV in a bottle and lightly sprayed her down once a day. It was so wonderful to see my mare no longer suffering I almost cried. I have told dozens of people of my experience but they all seem hesitant. Try it, I tell them, what have you got to lose?!

    1. Thank you so so very much for sharing this story, those people may be hesitant but I certainly am so glad you shared your story..I have been using ACV daily..spraying them off but very little relief..so I will try soaking a rag and rubbing it on them the way you said..again thanks

    2. Does the ACV sting at all on bites or scratches? After Hurricane Harvey the mosquitoes have become unbearable & my poor mare is being attacked! I spray her down 2x's day but it isn't completely helping with the mosquitoes. Since she has bites I'd hate to use something that would cause her even more discomfort. Thanks for any advice

  2. Do you mix the cider vinegar with water or just in the spray bottle without an additive like water or anything.

    1. You can use straight ACV or dilute up to 50/50 with water.

  3. I just want to add in while lemon juice is harmless it WILL bleach hair when out in the sun! We used to use it before going to the beach to get blonde streaks...I'd hate for a beautiful blood bay to walk in someones barn looking like a bleached out buckskin lol

    1. Great advice! I wonder if it would bleach out the stains on my gray... :)

  4. Will this take care of the pain in the ...knats??

  5. How much of each ingredient and do you mix it with water?


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