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Repelling Mosquitos Without DEET

06.18.13 Repelling Mosquitos Without DEET


There's word on the street that this year, it's gonna be a record year for mosquitos. In search of body heat, lactic acid and carbon dioxide, mosquitos are on the hunt. If you are one of the lucky ones (with genes to better disguise yourself) who isn't really bothered by mosquitos, because they just buzz by your ear and occasionally give you a few small ankle bites, than this is of little concern. But if you've been blessed with that something special sweetness (my daughter and I have it) that mosquitos find and love, you want serious bug protection. Good, effective protection. Especially when you or your kids are prone to huge dinosaur welts that itch like mad!

But DEET? Let's face it - this chemical is a pesticide and it's meant to pack a punch. And it does (just unfortunately beyond repelling insects). Especially if it's used regularly and for prolonged periods of time. And DEET is used (in varying amounts - up to 100%) in over 200 bug repellent products. 

But it's important to remember that DEET is particularly dangerous to use on children because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals - up to 56% of DEET enters the bloodstream! According to a Duke University study, DEET can damage brain cells, cause behavioural changes, and can create harmful interactions when used in combination with other medication.

For effective, safe and DEET free protection, we recommend these bug repelling products

Badger's Anti-Bug Shake and Spray is made with the effective essential oils of citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint and geranium. What is absent from this bug repellent is petroleum, synthetic chemicals and DEET. So, unlike products that contain DEET, you don't have to haul your kids into the bath before they make it to their beds. Yes, it's true - DEET isn't supposed to go directly on the skin and if it does, parents are advised to wash it off before hours of soaking-in slumber. Ok, for me, that is a hurdle that I don't want on my nightly checklist before bedtime.

If you're looking for a balm base bug repellent, Badger also makes a Natural Anti-Bug Balm that has the cache of working well in the fierce biting climates of Tamil Nadu, India and the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia. You can count on this to work for several hours and isn't too difficult for a kid to apply themselves. Both the spray and the balm scored 0-1 on EWG's Skin Deep rating.

LuSa Organics also makes a natural bug repellent spray that is offensive to bugs but not to humans. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is a key ingredient in this spray.

And if you're up to making your own, we recommend using essential oils of lemon eucalypus, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, and mint in various combinations. A good recipe includes 1/4 cup of witch hazel plus 4 drops each of the above mentioned essential oils. 

Some other natural bug-repelling options include:

  • catnip - yes, a study at Iowa State University found that the essential oil in catnip was 10 times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitos.
  • lavender - luckily this essential oil has a lovely scent for people but not for mosquitos. If in fact you do have a bug bite, this essential oil is also very effective at minimizing the itch. Use in combination with organic soy oil for twice the guard.
  • citronella - in pure essential oil form.
  • neem oil - combine with coconut oil for a mosquito relief. Also found to be effective when added to citronella candles.

And if you are really adventurous with making contraptions, here's a DIY mosquito trap.

What do you use to keep your family bite-free?


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