The Vinegar of the Four Thieves

Herbal Mixes: The Vinegar of the Four Thieves

Contains: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage and Wormwood.



Combine 12 tablespoons of the premixed herbs and 2 quarts of vinegar in a sealed glass jar, and steep in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks or so, shaking daily. Then, strain out the used herbs, and retain the herbal liquid mixture.

Add several cloves of crushed garlic, and close lid. Let soak for three days, and strain out the garlic fiber and discard.

This liquid tincture needs to be stored in a cool place, like the refrigerator. It can be preserved for a very long period of time by canning. To do so, fill canning jars with boiling liquid tincture to within one-half inch of top. Cap with rubber seal canning lid, tighten ring, and turn hot jar upside down; leave it undisturbed until it cools to room temperature. This will cause the jar to seal. Don’t forget to date and label it.

From our Reading and/or Experience...

  • DO NOT use on broken skin.
  • The Vinegar of the Four Thieves can be used to benefit anyone: men, women, children and animals.
  • It can be used as often as you would like, and in any external application you choose.
  • Storage is not a critical issue with this herb mixture. However, we keep ours in a dark, dry and cool place (refrigerator is very good).

Lately, with all these awful threats of plagues in the news, I have been spending my free time reading medical reports and ancient history books that discuss the times of the great plagues.

The last great plague of 1664-1665 covered all of Europe, Turkey, India, and China. It is estimated that at least one-half of the population of those areas died. The people knew the disease was somehow related to the rats and mice, because as the rodents died off, so did the people. They just didn’t understand it was the fleas leaving the dead carcasses of the rodents and finding human hosts that were spreading the disease.

The latest insect-carrying virus that could prove to be a nightmare plague is the West Nile Virus. When we welcomed in the year 2000, the West Nile Virus was almost unheard of. After all, it only concerns people living around the Nile River, right? It is now in almost every state of the union. It kills over 2% of those who get infected. Thousands upon thousands of dead birds, dogs, horses and chickens are being found infected with this exotic killer. Mosquitoes carry it from mammal to mammal to mice to people to pets, and from pets back to people. Thousands of people here in the USA were infected last year. A simple mosquito bite is no longer an unimportant little red spot. A quick research project is to look at a map posted on the web displaying infection rates; it is quite sobering.

In reading personal accounts of the different plagues, I noticed some important points. There were usually 3 completely different expressions of the plague: bubonic (swelling glands), pneumonic (lung congestion with flu-like symptoms), and septicemic (pathogenic bacteria in the bloodstream). Often nurses, doctors, and those who buried the dead never contracted the plague. The survivors telling their stories never agreed upon a preventive, yet I noticed several different authors mentioning vinegar and smoke as a possible defense against the plague.

I read of one old couple who served the sick and never got ill. They strongly believed their immunity was the result of the use of herbal vinegar, which they put on their hair, clothes, and even a vinegar-drenched rag placed in front of their faces when they were attending the sick. They lived to tell their stories and to promote their preventive.

Many families survived by staying in their homes at all times and creating acrid smoke in their homes every 3rd day. They thought the smoke was purifying the air of disease. The smoke was made by burning a variety of things, from gunpowder to Rosemary. They suspected that the rats and mice might be carrying the disease, and by creating the strong odor, they believed it would drive the rodents and fleas from their homes.

Burning Rosemary, which is a pleasant odor, proved to be so effective in ridding homes of pests that its use has continued down through the years. Even as late as World War II, rosemary incenses were burned in the hospitals of France to “cleanse the air.”

The most famous and interesting story of healing coming out of the great Black Death plague was the story of the four thieves and their amazing concoction that came to be known as The Vinegar of the Four Thieves. History records that the four thieves were arrested for stealing from the homes of the many dead victims. After their arrest, they were taken from prison and forced to bury the dead with the promise that if they lived, they would go free. One of the thieves was an herbalist, whose herbal wine vinegar purportedly kept the four thieves alive all during the Black Death. As their resistance to the disease became obvious, others started using their vinegar tincture—reportedly with great success. They lived to credit the vinegar potion for their survival.

The old records document several recipes that are very much alike. I looked up each of the herbs comprising the tincture and marveled at how effective the tincture would be in place of today’s insect repellents. Of course, superstition was rampant during those times, and disease was not understood, so the old history books confuse superstition with herbal healings. Common sense and more recent medical understanding have made it possible to comprehend why this herbal vinegar worked so well.

Rosemary, being a strong antiseptic, was one of the choice herbs. Wormwood and Rue are the bitterest of herbs. Both are antiseptics and vermifuges (kill worms). Wormwood has been used internally but can cause convulsions. Lavender and peppermint are high in volatile oils, hence excellent ingredients for a very good insect repellent, as well as being pleasant smelling. Sage, among other good things, is a lymphatic, which is an important fact to remember in case of a bubonic-type disease outbreak. Of course, garlic, as the king of herbs, is a wonder drug. Within its paper-thin wrapping is found a host of beneficial properties, far too many to list. But it does have specific properties that are antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibiotic and, antifungal—chemicals that kill parasites. If I were ever lost in a sick, hostile world, I would not take medicine; I would take garlic. Always keep a sack in your kitchen, and go to the library to learn how to use it.

The Vinegar of the Four Thieves is a super-strong insect repellent. It should be diluted with water to half strength if you spray it directly on your skin. This repellent can be used in many ways. Splashed on your socks or shoes will discourage ticks, chiggers, and mites. An herbal cloth kept in your pocket and rubbed on your skin ever hour or so would be very beneficial during outdoor work or recreation. Or, a nightly bath with a little herbal vinegar and oil will keep it on your skin for many hours and could prove helpful for families who live in the country or while out on camping trips.

Customer Reviews

Please, take a moment and comment on this product.

Wormwood, internal use.
by kkicons on Mar 12, 2015

I found wormwood is good for me, but I started small and gradually got used to it. I learned that slight dizzyness is a sign that the dosage is too high. This might be something especially to watch for in an alcohol tincture. Mugwort is a good substitute for those who can't tolerate wormwood. Shoshanna's Vinegar of the four thieves Sore Throat Spray has been used by my daughter and I to stave off strep for several years.

Lemon Balm and Peppermint substitutions
by Faith on Jun 2, 2014

I'm so thankful for your wonderful service! My order arrived so quickly which was wonderful since we were really wanting to try making the bug spray. Only I completely forgot I wanted to order the tansy and lemongrass to add in too. On a Web search I found ( that lemonbalm and peppermint are also great insect repellents and since I had just ordered them I added them to The Vinegar of the Four Thieves mix.

internally or externally
by Carol on Feb 28, 2014

I am confused-sorry. Is this to be sprayed on for pests or do you take it internally for whole body effect? If internally--how much? thank you.

    Re: internally or externally
    by Bulk Herb Store on Feb 28, 2014

    You wouldn't take this internally. It could be used as a bug spray externally! Enjoy!

love it
by Dustbunnyland on Feb 10, 2014

This is going to be great for hunting (ticks) and all around annoyances of bugs. You encourage me so much. I am a 54 yo lady long passed having babies and one of my favorite books lately is Making Babies. I have loved up the library's copy but good and now know, I am just going to have to buy a copy. Thanks for all your help living a healthy life!

essential oils?
by christine on Jan 23, 2014

How would you make this using EO's instead of making a tincture with the herbs?

    Re: essential oils?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jan 31, 2014

    I am not exactly sure how to make it with Essential Oils since I haven't done it personally. I did however find this recipe on the internet that you could try to use.
    80 drops of Clove Oil
    70 drops of Lemon Oil
40 drops of Cinnamon Bark
30 drops of Eucalyptus Oil
    20 drops of Rosemary Oil

For Horses
by Patricia du Plooy on Dec 25, 2013

Hi there, I am considering buying your mixed herbs and would like to know if it can be diluted with medicinal liquid paraffin to last longer on the horse? Live in South Africa and need something that works but with staying power.

    Re: For Horses
    by Bulk Herb Store on Dec 30, 2013

    I would recommend mixing it with beeswax to make a salve. Thanks!

by Lauren Derby on Sep 26, 2013

Could you clarify the recipe please? I can't seem to view the video (it just shows a black box on my screen).

2 quarts of vinegar just seemed like a lot. That would take a pretty large container. I just wanted to make sure that it's 12 Tablespoons and 2 Quarts of Vinegar? Thank you.

    Re: Recipe
    by Bulk Herb Store on Sep 27, 2013

    Good Morning,
    Yes, it is 12 tablespoons of herbs to 2 quarts of vinegar. Thanks!

this is great!!
by Lori on Jun 26, 2013

We have been battling fleas for the last 2 months or longer. I just put down pesticide in the yard and under the house. But I have been looking for an alternative to chemicals for inside the house. I made this and started using it today. As i spayed this on my outdoor cats and dog i watched the fleas crawling off them and jumping off!! I nearly hosed the back deck in it. I am spraying the furniture and carpets i am gonna add it to my mop water too! I am thankful to finally have something that works!! The best part is that I don't have to worry about the effects it will have on my children!

Insect repellant
by Stephanie Bill on Jun 25, 2013

Hi! I want to make bug spray from the vinegar of four thieves. I recently purchased the herbs from you and am excited to try it! We already have mosquitos so bad though I'd really rather not have to wait 2-6 weeks for the herbs to steep. I was wondering if I can use the crockpot method you talk about for making tinctures for this as well? Thank you so much for your help and for all your wonderful products!

    Re: Insect repellant
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jul 16, 2013

    I would not recommend heating as this product is used with vinegar. It needs to have the 2-6 weeks for the herbs to steep correctly. You do not want to heat this mix up. Thank you!

by Julie on Jun 22, 2013

How many cups are in the 1/2 pound mixture of Vinegar of the Four Thieves? We are wanting to mix a large batch to use for our horses but don't know how much to order. Thank you!

    Re: Quantity?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 27, 2013

    There is approx. 2 - 2 1/2 cups per half pound bag.

Use for animals
by Elizabeth on Jun 12, 2013


Is it possible to spray this product on dogs to protect them from ticks? My dog had a severe case of Lyme Disease several years ago and I was wondering whether this could help?

Thank you.

    Re: Use for animals
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 13, 2013

    Yes it is safe to spray on pets as well as humans to repel insects, including ticks. This is a combination of herbs that repel ticks and other insects so I would definitely use it on my dog to protect against ticks.

Question on broken skin
by Sarah on Jun 8, 2013

I was wondering why does the information say not to use on broken skin? I want to make this for my son who is VERY allergic to mosquitos. He usually has a few bites on him that have blistered and sometimes bleed if he is able to scratch them. What will the problem be other than possible burning sensation from the vinegar? Is it one of the herbs that can cause a severe reaction in the blood stream?

    Re: Question on broken skin
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 17, 2013

    It would just be that it will burn and possibly irritate broken skin. As far as I know none of the herbs would cause a reaction in the blood stream.

Need to be refrigerated?
by Heather on Jun 7, 2013

Hi, I'm wondering if this tincture needs to be refrigerated while it is brewing for the 3 weeks?
Thank you!

    Re: Need to be refrigerated?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 7, 2013

    No it does not. We recommend setting it in a cool dark place such as a kitchen cupboard.

Orange peel instead of lemon grass?
by Anne on Jun 3, 2013

Can I use dried orange peel instead of lemon grass and get the same or similar results? Do you add lemon grass to get a citrus scent which mosquitos don't like or does it have other beneficial properties for the bug spray? We have two orange trees in our yard so I have plenty of dried orange peels.
Thanks so much!

    Re: Orange peel instead of lemon grass?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 5, 2013

    Yes you could use the orange peel instead of lemongrass as it is also a bug repellent!

Safe while breastfeeding?
by Tiffany on Jun 3, 2013

Is this safe while breastfeeding and for infants?

    Re: Safe while breastfeeding?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Jun 5, 2013

    Yes it is safe to use externally while breastfeeding and as long as it doesn't irritate the infant's skin, it should be fine to spray some on them too. If it does irritate the skin, you could try spraying some on their clothes instead.

Incredible Product!!
by Sharon in TN. on Jun 2, 2013

I bought this and made it up then put it into squirt bottles in our bathrooms. It is used daily if not more and I love it! The hint of mint with the rest of the herbs is pleasant to smell. It cleans great and disinfects better than store bought products. I've tried "natural" products as well and still come back to this!!
Thank you Bulk Herb Store for this product.

Doesn't work :(
by Kate on Jun 2, 2013

Tried this last year. We smelled strongly like salad dressing and seemed to attract MORE bugs. Bummer. I usually like herbal mixes from this site.

longevity of product
by andy gold on May 28, 2013

Possibly questions were answered in video, but I'm unable to view it...
How many hours do the effects last on the skin once sprayed? Does sweat remove the product? Is it greasy? Does it stain clothing? How long will it last if stored in the fridge? Can it be stored, mixed half strength with water, or should it be mixed with water just prior to use? Once I've mixed it with water for use on the skin, how long can the diluted mix remain at room temp before it goes bad (or should it be promptly put back into the fridge)? How does one tell that the mix is too old to work, other than getting bug bites?

    Re: longevity of product
    by Bulk Herb Store on May 29, 2013

    1. How many hours do the effects last on the skin once sprayed?

    Depends on the person and there activities- about 60- to 90 minutes.

    2. Does sweat remove the product? It could.

    3. Is it greasy? No.

    4. Does it stain clothing?

    Not if it is dry on your skin. It could being wet, depending on the material.

    5. How long will it last if stored in the fridge?

    Full strength can be stored like vinegar and keeps 6 months.

    6. Can it be stored, mixed half strength with water, or should it be mixed with water just prior to use?

    Depends on the water you use. Clean, boiled water is what you want. You can keep in the fridge for 6 weeks with water.

    7. Once I've mixed it with water for use on the skin, how long can the diluted mix remain at room temp before it goes bad (or should it be promptly put back into the fridge)?

    It could last a week or longer out of the fridge, with good water.

    8. How does one tell that the mix is too old to work, other than getting bug bites?

    No herb smell.

VFT Bug Spray
by Jennifer Easterbrooks on Apr 22, 2013

Your recipe says apple cider vinegar and the video says white vinegar. Is one more effective than the other? I already missed the two additional ingredients in the video, so I would like to make it the best way. Thanks!

    Re: VFT Bug Spray
    by Bulk Herb Store on May 1, 2013

    The apple cider vinegar is better than the white, but both will work!

substitutes for vinegar
by Anonymous on Apr 21, 2013

I would like to know if I can make the bug spray with alcohol instead of vinegar. My husband gets sick to his stomach at the very smell of vinegar. Could you recommend a substitute?

    Re: substitutes for vinegar
    by Bulk Herb Store on May 1, 2013

    I can't think of any other substitute that would be suitable other than trying vodka or some form of alcohol and I'm not sure how great that would be on the skin!

by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2013

In the video, you did not add garlic. Is it necessary to use garlic in the vinegar mixture? I was wondering about the above comments that it did not smell. Did they make it without garlic?

    Re: Garlic
    by Bulk Herb Store on Apr 30, 2013

    You can make it without the garlic, however it will give it extra power if added!

by Paula on Jan 29, 2013

I was excited to get my Four Thieves mix in the mail and watched the video with my girls this afternoon thinking we'd assemble the tincture afterwards. But now I'm confused, because the video mentioned Tansy & Lemongrass, but those are not in the mix or in the list of ingredients on the recipe. How vital are they to the Vinegar?

    Re: Tansy/Lemongrass?
    by Bulk Herb Store on Apr 12, 2013

    They will make your tincture stronger and possibly even more affective, but it can definitely be made without those two!

A bit confused...
by Kristina Aguirre on Jan 6, 2013

Do I use the prepared herbal mix and two other herbs mentioned in the video? Do I use the recipe on this page? Can I use the 4 thieves mix alone?

Also, can I make a lotion with this? And, does this have other benefits besides bug repellent.

Thank you!

    Re: A bit confused...
    by Bulk Herb Store on Mar 29, 2013

    You can just use the pre-mixed herbs, (the recipe on the page is basically giving you an idea of how much to use if you have each individual herb), however I would probably follow the recipe in the video for extra power!
    We have never tried making a lotion with it but I think it would be worth a shot! You would want to infuse it in oil rather than vinegar, of course! It can also be used as a foot soak for foot fungus etc.

4 thieves vinegar
by JoAnn on Dec 5, 2012

Without the wormwood, this would be perfectly safe internally, and I believe it would be a good tonic for health.

Finally something that works
by Madeleine on Nov 9, 2012

My daughters have really bad reactions to bug bites. It looks like they are diseased for day or 2. One daughter worse than the others.I hated buying the chemical stuff, but summers were misrable, every year, so I decide to try any natural repellent I could get my hands on.

Most worked ok, but they still got bug bites here and there.

I came across your sight and found this video. I quickly ordered the supplies and made it, hoping for that 'miracle cure'.

And it was!! It was a miracle!

My 24 year old daughter is confined indoors once the sun starts to set. Everyone else is still enjoying ouside ativities while she sat indoors. I pulled out the mixture and told her to try it. she was sceptical, I was hopeful.

Not one bite!!! We were all thrilled! She has new found freedom, and we couldn't be happier. She loves it, as her baby has the same reations to bites as she has. Now they both spray up and enjoy the summer life.

Thank you!

termite repellant
by Day on Aug 16, 2012

I have a batch of the 4 thieves that i use on my dogs for repeling fleas and ticks it works great. It also works for chiggers and i recently found out it works for repeling termites. Thanks

Uses for this mixture
by Nancy Mock on Jul 9, 2012

Hi, Just thought I would let you know that I have used the Thieves Oil to help keep swelling and pain down for an abscessed tooth. Then, while away from home, I used a pinch of your Thieves Mix on the spot in my mouth with the same success of taking the swelling down. Yes, it does not taste very good, but it works and that is the important thing! Why do you recommend it to NOT be used internally? Thanks!

    Re: Uses for this mixture
    by Bulk Herb Store on Dec 4, 2012

    We don't recommend taking it internally, especially if nursing/pregnant, because the wormwood in it can make you sick if you take too much. A very small amount would not hurt you but you just don't want to take it in large amounts. Also if you add tansy to it then it is really best to not take it at all.

very pleased with
by Pierce on Jun 19, 2012

My wife and I work as Bible translators in the South Pacific. On our next to last village trip we were eaten up by sand flies. We ordered this product especially to repel those on our last trip out. It worked as well as it was advertised. Getting in and out of canoes washed it off quickly, so we still got some bites on our feet. However, the next application acted as a natural antihistamine and took away the itchiness. We have definitely recommended this product to the other missionary families here and we would do the same for you.
As a side note... it has also healed/cured the athelete's foot that I've had.
Another side note... I've had a large healed wound from ant bites that has had a ring of black skin around it for almost two years. After using the "vinegar of the 4 thieves" that black ring has disappeared. That is two unintended consequences that I am very happy about! :)

Amazing flea repellant!
by Angela S. on Jun 11, 2012

Our house was infested with fleas when we moved out. Three weeks after we moved we returned to get some last minute things done. In those three weeks the fleas had no host to feed on so they attacked us with vengeance that night we returned. We have six young children, ages eight and under. Everyone put commercial spray on before bed, but the 2-month-old and I used Vo4T. The others had flea bites the next morning. The baby and I didn't.

Works Better Than Anything Else
by Amy on Aug 24, 2009

The Vinegar of the 4 Thieves is now a necessity for our family! I just came home from a week vacationing with friends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I ordered the mix of herbs and "brewed" my bug juice. I also warned my friends that I was going to smell like salad but hoped I wouldn't be bug-bitten! You see, bugs must view some kind of invisible, neon sign over my head saying, "Bite this one!!" and the biting flies and mosquitoes have a wonderful time dining on me in Michigan. I have tried all kinds of commercial bug repellents, going for the highest percentage of DEET possible for relief. Nothing has ever worked until I found this! I am now a believer in the Vinegar's properties and have made some other believers as well. No bug bites!!

I also can say that I DIDN'T smell like a salad after the spray dried on my skin! No offensive odor to drive my dear friends away! There's also no greasy feel afterward as with the commercial products. My dear husband and kids are also converts--they only got bitten when they didn't get themselves sprayed or spent time in the lake without re-treating themselves afterwards! One friend sprayed one leg and not the other--the bare leg had welts all over from mosquitoes and nothing on the "treated" leg. I am so thankful to you for offering this mix and recipe--maybe I'll even make it for gifts!!

Works in Amazon
by Chris on Aug 24, 2009

I purchased the Vinegar of the Four Thieves from you a few months back. I bought it for use around my home, but the main reason for my purchase was a mission trip to the Amazon basin. I just wanted to let you know that the product worked very well there also. Thanks.

Helps Hunters
by John & Caryn on Aug 24, 2009

Hi! Just wanted to tell you one of the ways we used the Vinegar of the Four Thieves. Our 12 year old son just bagged his first buck (YEAH! 11 points, 200 lbs-HUGE!!) My husband and our older boys were processing it, and out come the yellow jackets. After my husband got stung, I quickly ran and got a couple of jars of the Vof4T and sprayed it all over him AND the deer carcass. No more insects trying to get into the deer. Thank you!

We love this stuff!
by Mary in Alabama on Jun 2, 2009

We love the repellent properties. At camp last year it was dubbed ‘pickle juice” by campers, a canoe trip proved its ability to keep away the critters. Thank you for a great blend. We are brewing up a new batch as the drought has passed and the critters abound already.

Relief for Horses & Humans
by Esther on Jul 17, 2008

Just wanted to thank you for the VFT mixture. We were training our horses today and tried it out. Those dear miserable animal friends found such relief! Even more than the commercial repellant used before, and they didn't fight this spray like other sprays.
Of course, we used it too with the same results. :)

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