DEET, or diethyltoluamide is the most common active ingredient in retail insect repellents. It was originally created during World War II for the United States Army. It protects against biting and sucking insects.

DEET mosquito repellent

DEET is colorless, but can stain clothes a yellowish color. It gives off a faint odor and comes in sprays, lotions, and sticks.

How Does DEET Work?

DEET disrupts the neurons and receptor in a mosquito’s antennae and mouth. The smell deters them from landing anywhere that has had contact with diethyltoluamide. Ensure you have the right concentration of DEET. You only need a product containing about 25% to 30% DEET for several hours of protection.

There is no need to overexpose yourself to chemicals, since it won’t improve results. Retail products range from 5% to 98% DEET concentration.

This ingredient does not kill insects, but rather repels them. It stops them from landing anywhere on or around people who have been sprayed with a DEET product.

DEET products can be used to repel biting and sucking insects such as mosquitos, fleas, and ticks.

 Is DEET Safe For Humans?

Yes! DEET is relatively safe for humans. Always be sure to read and follow the label of any product you’re using.

Keep all products away from eyes and mouth. Some individuals may have adverse allergic reactions to DEET products. If you find that you are having an allergic reaction after using DEET, be sure to wash the affected area thoroughly, and contact a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen.

People have reported irritated eyes and skin if overexposed to DEET. People who have accidentally swallowed DEET have experienced upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.

In rare and severe cases, overexposure to DEET has led to seizures. There are very low reports of overexposure, and most are from misuse of product.

DEET is broken down through the skin into smaller chemicals and eliminated through the liver. There are no conclusive reports of DEET causing cancer. Read and follow the label of any DEET product you’re using and:

  • Don’t apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated and sensitive skin
  • Don’t apply to hands, eyes, or mouth
  • Don’t allow young children to handle DEET products
  • Don’t over-apply DEET products
  • Don’t apply in enclosed areas

Wash hands and clothing thoroughly after using and applying. Stop using any products that give adverse reactions. 

Is DEET Safe For Animals?

DEET is extremely toxic to aquatic animals like fish and insects. Use caution around fresh water and properly dispose of any diethyltoluamide products when finished. The ASPCA does not recommend using DEET on your pets, exposure to DEET can cause adverse reactions such as:

  • Pink eye
  • Swelling eyes and eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Vision issues
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

If your pet is experiencing any adverse reactions after being exposed to DEET products, contact your vet immediately. 

What Products Contain DEET?

Diethyltoluamide can be found in almost every retail insect repellent. Be sure to read the concentration on the product you’re using and always follow the label. DEET products can be found in sprays, lotions, and sticks.

DEET vs Other Products

There are lots of products out there to help you ward off pests. Let’s look at some other retail products that compare to DEET. 

DEET vs. Eucalyptus Oil

If you’re bothered by the smell of DEET, try eucalyptus. This has a stronger, medicinal smell, but can’t be used on cats or dogs.

DEET vs. Citronella

Is another natural alternative to DEET, and has a far less invasive smell. Citronella is okay with cats, but cannot be used on dogs. 

DEET vs. Cedarwood Oil

If your issue with DEET is needing a solution to protect your dog, try cedarwood oil! Always be sure to check your pet for adverse reactions if you’re using a new product on them. Call your vet if you need more information on using essential oils on your pet.

If you’re unsure if DEET products are the right solution to repel pests, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 to see what other solutions they recommend.