Ditch the DEET: Safe, Chemical-Free Insect Repellents for a Bug-Free Summer

Natural Insect Repellents

Summer in the Fox Valley is off to a hot start so break out the shorts, tank tops and flip flops – and brace yourself for the bug bites!

With summer vacation in full swing, you’re all for the kids spending time outside, but pesky mosquitoes and other biting insects can put a damper on your kids’ summer fun, and even their health – especially if they’re exposed to dangerous chemicals in common insect repellents.

Fortunately, we’ve got some great tips to keep the whole family protected without the use of harmful chemicals.


What’s in your Bug Spray?

With the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus or a tick that could infect you with Lyme disease (click here for eye-opening information on Lyme disease), insect repellents are about more than avoiding itchy bites. The well-known chemical DEET has been a staple in the war against bugs for decades, but is it safe for you or your kids?

Current guidelines from organizations like the EPA consider “normal use” of DEET to be of little to no risk to human health. However, products containing DEET must contain warnings on the label such as:

  • Avoid over-application
  • Do not allow young children to apply this product
  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water

And while in the U.S. you can purchase products containing up to 100 percent DEET, in Canada the legal limit is just 30 percent, which is the maximum concentration recommended for children by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP also advises against the use of any DEET on infants under two months.

So if DEET is considered safe for normal use, why so many warnings and limits? According the Natural Resource Defense Council, more recent research shows there may be more risks than indicated in the EPA’s safety review of DEET that was conducted in the 1990s.

Newer research classifies DEET as a neurotoxin capable of producing long-term effects. It also shows DEET may increase the toxicity of other chemicals, including the Agent Orange ingredient 2,4-D, which is now commonly used on lawns to kill weeds.

As if the risks aren’t scary enough, they may be even greater for children since their developing bodies have a lower threshold for tolerance. In fact, a Duke University pharmacologist advises to never use DEET on infants. First of all, babies have very thin skin – too thin to act as a barrier to keep out powerful chemicals. Secondly, an infant’s body is unable to metabolize chemicals as effectively as older children and adults.

Children may also be at greater risk because of their tendency to put their hands in their mouth. If any bug spray chemicals are on their little hands, those toxins can be given easy access to inside the body when a finger goes in a mouth, around the eyes or up a nose.

If these facts have you nervous, maybe this will be the summer to switch a more natural option.

Natural Bug Spray

Natural Insect Repellents

Natural Healthy Concepts is passionate about promoting health with natural and safe ingredients, and we’ve got a great selection of natural bug repellents featuring essential oils – and NO DEET – to keep your kids safe from bugs and chemicals this summer.

1. All Terrain Herbal Armor Insect Repellent

This DEET-free formula received a Best Gear Award from National Geographic Adventure. It’s made with natural essential oils to keep away mosquitoes, ticks, deerflies and more. Perfect for active kids, it’s water and sweat resistant and completely effective for a full two hours. Even after three hours, it still works at more than 95 percent.

2. Buzz Away Extreme DEET-Free Towelettes

These towelettes make it easy to apply insect repellent to even the wiggliest kids. You have complete control over where it’s going so you don’t end up losing your kids in a cloud of aerosol bug spray or getting it too close to their eyes and mouth.

3. Acure Organics Baby Bug Stick

Even the non-chemical bug repellents can be too much for an infant’s skin. That’s why Acure Organics included a special repellent in their new line of baby products. With zero chemicals, synthetic fragrance or estrogenic ingredients, it’s perfect for baby. It’s made with natural moisturizing oils that are super gentle on soft, sensitive skin. And the stick application makes it easy to use and pack.

4. BugBand Insect Repelling Band

For application-free protection, there’s this handy little wristband. Infused with the plant-based repellent geraniol, it emits a vapor to create a protective shield around whatever it’s on. And that could be anything – wrists, ankles, backpacks, belt loops, pet collars, strollers and even indoors. For a longer band, the individual wristbands can be strung together. Made with a break-away strap, if the strap ever gets caught on something, it will safely snap. And get this: They glow in the dark so you’ll be able to keep an eye on your little firefly on all those late summer nights.

5. Wondercide DEET-Free Cedar Lemongrass Insect Repellent

Don’t forget to keep the bugs off Fido! Pets can be a big target for insects, drawing them near your kids, too. Wondercide, a small Texas-based company, makes an array of great products for keeping pests away from pets and your home. This repellent is super versatile and can be used on pets, kids and you.


Other Tips

In addition to using a good, chemical-free repellent, there are a few basic tips you can follow to keep yourself safe from bugs.

  • Cover Up – It may be hot, but keeping skin covered with pants and long sleeves is one of the best ways to keep the bugs from biting. This is especially important if you’re headed to the woods or brushy areas where you’re more likely to come into contact with ticks.
  • Avoid Standing Water – To keep the number of mosquitoes in your yard down, be sure to limit the amount of standing water. Kiddie pools, bird baths, ponds and buckets or other containers that collect rain water are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Maintaining a yard with good drainage will also prevent puddles after a rain.
  • Screens are your Friend – To keep pests out of the house, make sure all windows are covered with screens. Special screens and mesh can also be used to cover strollers and baby carriers. And if your family likes spending a lot of time out in the yard, consider setting up a shelter or gazebo with mosquito netting to enjoy a meal outside without become a meal for mosquitoes.



What are Your Tips?

Do you have some tricks up your sleeve? Share your safe, chemical-free ways to beat the bugs during summer.

For more information about four of the worst summer pests to watch out for, check out our post, How to Avoid Disease-Spreading Insects.

Looking for other natural remedies? Here are 5 natural sunscreens options and seasonal allergies tips.

Or stop by Natural Healthy Concepts to talk to one of our knowledgeable employees about the best bug solutions for your family. We’re on Westhill Blvd, right across from Woodman’s. You can even shop online at www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com for all your supplement and beauty needs – you’ll even get free shipping!

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