Repel Ticks & Bugs Without DEET

Warm weather brings more than ice cream and beaches. It also brings swarms of biting bugs. Families will do just about anything to stop bugs from ruining their summer or vacation fun. The trick is to use repellents that donít bite back.

At any moment, there are about 10 quintillion bugs on Earth. (Thatís a 10 followed by 18 zeros!) And the two insect repellents most commonly used to shoo them away are DEET, a chemical developed by the military, and permethrin, a synthetic version of substances found in chrysanthemums, which is used to treat clothing and other items.

Is DEET safe? Both DEET and permethrin strongly discourage mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and other pests, but they donít necessarily do it safely. Recent studies, for example, find that DEET is a neurotoxin that may cause long-term health effects on adults and children. Reports have linked DEET to rashes, headaches, seizures, and other conditions. For its part, permethrin is listed as a likely human carcinogen. Permethrin is suspected of disrupting the endocrine and nervous systems. Thereís also evidence that DEET and permethrin enhance each otherís effects when used together.

Another option is picaridin, a chemical based on pepper. Itís said to be slightly less effective than DEET but believed to have low toxicity. Additional, more complete information on it would be welcome.

For a healthier approach to repelling bugs, skip these chemicals and practice prevention instead. Cover up your children with long sleeves and pants tucked into socks, and wear colors that blend in with your background. Avoid wearing scented products, which can attract insects. When you or your children need a bug spray, try natural solutions like these:

Remember that natural repellents may need to be applied more frequently. They also donít contain many of the other ingredients conventional sprays do, like petroleum byproducts and synthetic fragrance, which can also be harmful to human health. After all, the point is to harm the bugs, not the humans or other animals theyíre nibbling on.

If you do choose to use DEET to repel insects despite the body of evidence against it, never use it on newborns under two months of age. Everyone else should apply a solution containing 30 percent DEET or lessóstudies show that higher concentrations offer no additional protection. When applying DEET, use sparingly, donít let children apply it themselves, and always keep it away from their eyes, mouths, hands, and wounds. And don’t let kids hug or snooze with a freshly-sprayed family pet.

Related:
6 Natural Mosquito Repellants

93 comments

Jenna Vaccaro
Jenna Vaccaro2 years ago

Many people aren't aware of the dangers caused by DEET. The most common products are insect repellent, and I've found an organic, DEET-free tick and mosquito spray (that actually smells nice ;)
It's called Dr. Fedorenko True Organic Tick and Mosquito Spray.. 100% organic, and as close to homemade as you can get! Here's the site if anyone is interested~ http://www.drfedorenko.com/

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Healthy Child Healthy World, for Sharing this!

Jink H.
Jink H.2 years ago

Deet is nasty. If you are desperate and I mean desperate and that's all there is then treat your clothes and. It your skin. It doesn't stop you from breathing it in but at least it won't absorb into your skin.

Yvonne Egan
Yvonne Egan2 years ago

I'm sure I've read something about Tea Tree oil being a good repellent for things like ticks and fleas. I use a Tea Tree spray from the local pet shop, which is for improving their coats, and I spray a fine mist and brush it through. It mustn't be used where they can lick, or on cats. I have very rarely used flea/tick drops or sprays as they worry me, about the affect they have on the health of our 2 dogs, and to be honest we have never had a problem with them.

Angela B.
Angela B.3 years ago

I don't use DEET because of the toxicity of the product. Our house is basically in a forest so we have lots of mosquitoes. We've learned to stay indoors after dark or close to a camp fire. I'm looking forward to trying some oil of lemon eucalyptus-based repellents to see how they stand up :)

Edith B.
Edith B.3 years ago

Thanks, good advice.

Christine Daniels

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Jane R.
Jane R.3 years ago

The chemicals we use to protect ourselves from insects should all be banned. I'm sure some company could come up with a sale alternative using natural and safe ingredients (if they wanted to) but they probably make more money using chemicals.
I'd like to try vanilla. I just wonder do you dab it on or put it in a spray bottle to use?

Sonia Minwer-Barakat Requ

Good to know,thanks for sharing

Christine Daniels

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