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What are the best, safest insect repellents?

June 1, 2011

Remember the good ol’ days of your childhood summers? Bare feet, tube tops, Dr. Scholls and no mosquito bites? (So maybe I totally dated myself, but I do have a point…). Back then, our parents sprayed us with that awful smelling insect spray that was chock a block full of DEET.

So, what’s wrong with DEET?

“Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home” is a great book put out by the CEO of the nonprofit environment group of the same name. Their website is a fount of information including an article about how to choose the right insect repellent for your child. The main point? Stay away from DEET. “The most frequently reported symptoms of DEET toxicity in children are lethargy, headaches, tremors, involuntary movements, seizures, and convulsions. Sounds pretty horrific.

So, of course the question is: what is an alternative to DEET?

“Products containing less than 10 percent DEET ward off mosquitoes for approximately one to two hours. In stark contrast, the citronella and herbal products kept mosquitoes away for less than 20 minutes. A product containing IR3535 was about the same. The only natural product that lasted more than an hour was a soybean oil product called Bite Blocker for Kids, which the US Department of Agriculture found to be as effective as a 15% concentration of DEET and lasted for 4-8 hours.”

Which then led me to Bite Blocker’s website. They have a variety of products that have coverage for various time periods: 2 to 8 hours. They also have insect repellents for your pets and for pest control.Bbherbalspray4

So, we tried it last summer and it totally works. But you need a lot of it. One bottle will not get you through the summer.

I’m always on a hunt for alternatives too- and so that led me to: Safemama.com (great site!). Her 2010 Bug Repellent Cheat Sheet list products that are free of DEET, parabens, phtalates, PEGs, Sulfates, Dioxanes, Proplyene Glycols and synthetic frangrances (basically just trust in that she is choosing the best most natural repellents.)

On her cheat sheet? (Just a few that I selected for higher reviews and lower ratings on the Skin Deep)

Bubble & Bee 100% Organic Insect Repellent

Brittanie’s Thyme Organic Insect Repellent

Purple Prairie Bug Stuff

Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent

Bite Blocker® Herbal Spray

Read her entire Cheat Sheet for reviews, prices and their Skin Deep Rating.