Posted on 4 Comments

Don’t use DEET!

Several years ago I committed to keeping DEET away from my children. Every now and then I waiver and allow a DEET based mosquito repellent to touch their skin but it still makes me cringe. Why? DEET hurts them!

We’ve found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals [Source,, Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier]

I have since tried natural repellents using a concoction which included eucalyptus and lemongrass, and tried others with DEET alternatives such as Picaridin (which years from now may have as bad a rap as DEET). I have had good results with the natural products as well as the DEET alternative products. I am satisfied enough to know that I never need to use DEET again.

DEET is serious bad! You need to stop using DEET on your children!

The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides. [Source,, Popular insect repellent deet affects nervous system: study]

DEET was discovered in 1953. If it is truly neurotoxic to humans, what of today’s ailments and afflictions will be contributed to DEET?

See also: Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet from BMC Biology.

4 thoughts on “Don’t use DEET!

  1. What brain friendly brands do you like, and where do you get them?

    I’ve been thinking about this *a lot* lately, because our neighborhood has a crazy bad mosquito problem.

  2. I’ve tried several on various scout trips. Non-deet products may not last as long. A DEET based spray of 29% will last much longer than a DEET alternative. It simply means you have to reapply when it starts to quick working.

    MY FAVORITE: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus has been my favorite although the scouts really enjoyed poking fun at my aroma. I used the liquid not the lotion. It claims 6 hours of protection and I’d say it was good for that. Here’s a review

    The first non-DEET product we tried was Cutter Advanced 7% Picaridin. I’ve done no research on Picaridin but found it to be effective. Picardin has only been around since 1998 so maybe in 40 years we’ll discover its just as horrible as DEET.

    We also have in the house Off! Skintastic Clean Feel insect repellent which is 5% Picaridin. The kids seem to like this one.

    The final one I have is All Terrain’s Natural Herbal Armor Insect Repellent. Comes in a pump spray (aerosols are not allowed on scouting trips..think impulsive teenagers and fire). It is 10% Citronella, 5.6% soybean, % Peppermint, % Cedar, % Lemongrass, and % Geranium. (percentages have been worn off the bottle) Claims 4 hour protection. Noah says it works.

    Here’s some additional interesting information on natural remedies.

    OMG! The irony that defines my life. As I was typing this reply, inside my house, a mosquito flew over and landed on my right index finger! Guess I need to spray one of these repellents rather than just staring at them. (we have a mosquito source near the front door that I have not been able to identify – under the porch – and Cathy just came in so one from the swarm must have sneaked in)

  3. Well I wouldn’t toss the DEET just yet. Both those sources are the same study and we don’t know if the study was done well or not and like it says, more studies need to be done.

    But I can see as a parent not wanting to wait around to find out.

    Pesticides are scary but West Nile scares me more.

  4. I didn’t mean to imply that those were two different sources. It’s only one source restating things I’ve heard before.

    I tested the non-DEET stuff in the Okefenokee Swamp. I have complete confidence in the non-DEET products particularly the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. ymmv

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