How to Apply Deet

DEET is an acronym for N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, a chemical repellent that can repel biting pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, and chiggers. DEET was originally used as a pesticide on farm crops in the 1940s and by the late 1950s it was approved for human use. DEET is added in various concentrations to bug repellent products for adults and children.


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    Choose a DEET product that is appropriate for your outdoor activity and age. The lower the concentration of DEET in any bug repellent product, the shorter it will remain effective. While you can apply DEET on children as young as 2 months of age, remember that the lower concentrations of DEET are safer for kids but you will need to reapply DEET more frequently.
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    Using DEET products simultaneously with sunscreen has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen by as much as one-third the SPF. Remember to reapply sunscreen more frequently when using a DEET product. Only reapply DEET if bugs start bothering you again.
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    Pour liquid DEET-based insect repellents onto your hands and spread evenly over exposed skin. If using a spray, don't aim it at your face but instead spray it into your hands and rub over your face while avoiding eyes, lips and nostrils. Remember that DEET can burn the eyes and taste unpleasant if ingested.
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    Watch insect activity around you to know when to apply DEET to yourself again. Younger children tend to be bothered by insects first. By watching kids, you'll know when the effectiveness of your DEET-based product has diminished. Dusk and dawn are typically the most active times for biting insects to bother people.
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    Reapply your DEET-based product as needed. Utilize your product label's instructions and remember its effectiveness ratings to know when you will probably have to apply DEET once again.
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    Wash and remove the DEET-based product you previously applied after your outdoor activity is finished. Although DEET is considered safe to use on humans by the Environmental Protection Agency, you should always reduce and eliminate any DEET residue on your skin as soon as possible.


  • Select clothing that will enable you to perform your outdoor activity but provide as much protection as possible. The more clothing you can wear, the better you will be protected from biting insects and the less DEET you will need to apply.
  • Do not apply DEET underneath your clothing. Your goal is to minimize exposure to this chemical while maximizing the protection it can offer when properly applied. Avoid using DEET-based products on or around plastics, Lycra or Spandex-type fabrics. DEET will damage plastic-based products.


  • DEET-based products can irritate broken skin. Never apply over sunburns or damaged skin.
  • Never apply DEET products to children's hands, since they often wipe their hands on their faces or eyes and DEET can sting if it makes contact with these areas.
  • Do not apply DEET products to pets' fur. Pets will lick their fur and ingest DEET, which is not considered safe.

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Categories: Pest Control