Is Bug Spray eco-friendly? Here’s what you need to know about DEET

Oh, summer. The days keep getting longer and longer. More time is spent outdoors at beaches, national parks and swimming pools. You can dine alfresco with friends and enjoy s’mores around a campfire.

With all the happiness and fun that summer brings, there are also a few not-so-fun things to cook up. Depending on where you live, an increase in biting insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, is either a slight concern or a big problem come summer. And that means it’s time to stock up on insect repellent.

Besides the irritating itchy red bumps, these bugs can also carry disease. For this reason, it’s important to protect yourself (and your little ones!) from them.

DEET Bug Spray: How toxic is it to you and the environment?

Bug sprays can be a controversial topic. Especially when it comes to ingredients and their impact on you, animals and the environment in general.

Namely, DEET is the buzzword that gets the worst rap. DEET is used as an active ingredient in many insect repellents, and the discomfort surrounding it comes from the thought that it’s toxic to you, toxic to animals, and toxic to the environment. But, are all these arguments valid? Let’s dive into it.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have reported that the use of DEET as an insect repellent when used normally and correctly is safe for adults and children with no age limit for its use. They also concluded that the effect on animals and the environment is minimal enough not to be of concern. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it “breaks down quickly in the environment, so it’s not considered harmful to wildlife.”

However, the EWG recommends using DEET in concentrations of 20-30% because it’s best to “avoid overexposure” and this amount is enough for “all-day protection.” It has been shown to be effective in preventing insect bites and, in turn, helps consumers avoid Lyme disease and West Nile virus.

Effectiveness aside, not everyone is on the DEET bandwagon. While it’s great at repelling insects and easily accessible, the Cleveland Clinic notes that it’s also been known to cause issues like rashes or irritated skin in some people. It also has a strong odor which can be overpowering.

If this isn’t the right option for you and your family, there are herbal alternatives you can try instead.

Herbal Bug Spray: What Are My Options?

is an environmentally friendly insect repellent spray

1. Lemongrass Oil

According to the EPA, lemongrass oil is a non-toxic biochemical. It is registered as an insect repellent and animal repellent that poses a limited risk to wildlife and the environment.

If you want to try citronella oil-based insect repellent this summer, check out Brightly Shop’s Kinfield Golden Hour Deet-Free Insect Spray. It’s free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates, and the one-of-a-kind formula uses a unique strain of Indonesian lemongrass to effectively repel mosquitoes.

Another advantage: there is no unpleasant smell. The vanilla and citrus scent is a nice change from the harsh smell of DEET. If you want to try it, just be sure to grab a bottle fast – we’ve already sold out once this month and it’s only available in the store for a limited time.

2. Lemon eucalyptus oil

According to the Mayo Clinic, lemon eucalyptus oil is considered one of the most effective active ingredients in insect repellents, and it’s completely plant-based. The only downside? You cannot use it on children under three years old.

Once applied, Mark Fradin, MD, a dermatologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has researched insect repellents, told Harvard University it should last about four hours, an endurance similar to DEET-based repellents.

Is there a good choice for insect repellent?

The right choice for an insect repellent is the one you choose. What works for someone else may not work for you, so choosing the best option for you and your family is essential.

The good news is, DEET-free or not, there are plenty of options to safely protect you from bugs this summer without negatively impacting wildlife and the environment.


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