Don’t Waste Your Money: Bug Repellent Safety

Posted at 5:28 PM, May 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-15 17:28:40-04

Summer is around the corner, and so are swarms of insects. Consumer Reports has some important advice on how to avoid bug bites and at the same time limit exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals in insect repellents.

Consumer Reports has tested both types of repellents, those with DEET and plant-based ones without DEET, and thinks that DEET is an insect repellent that you should use as a last resort. And you should certainly not use it in any concentration of more than 30 percent. Consumer Reports’ tests show 30 percent DEET works very well, so products such as Jungle Juice 100, with almost 100 percent DEET, aren’t necessary.

And with DEET exposure there are possible side effects, such as skin blisters, slurred speech, and even seizures or coma.

Consumer Reports advises you to also avoid devices that clip on and use a fan to circulate repellent around you. Products such as Off Clip-on contain the active ingredient metofluthrin, which can pose risks to your nervous system. And Consumer Reports’ tests, done several years ago, found it doesn’t work very well anyway.

Consumer Reports says instead consider using repellents that contain no DEET, such as Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus, or products with picaridin, which is similar to a compound in black pepper. One caution: The Centers for Disease Control says not to use repellents with eucalyptus on children younger than 3.

Here are some other tips to avoid bugs — when you’re sitting outside, use a fan. It will help blow mosquitos away. And after a hike, put your clothes in the dryer to kill any ticks you brought home with you.