Mosquitoes may be small, but they are mighty. These tiny annoyances can cause some big problems, so we’ll go to great lengths to protect ourselves and our families from getting bitten.
Whether we light citronella candles on our porch, wear long pants and socks when we set out on a hiking trail, put up mosquito netting, or douse ourselves in bug repellent, we all have our favorite mosquito repelling traditions. But are they safe?
It can be easy to forget that some of these sprays we’ve used for as long as we can remember are filled with potentially harmful chemicals.
Most mosquito repellents contain DEET or its cousin Picaridin. DEET is a harsh, potentially dangerous chemical substance made by the military in the 1940s. That’s nearly 100 years ago! Times have changed, and there are many natural alternatives that can safely protect our families from mosquitoes.
Throughout the years, families have learned more about the dangers of synthetic products and gravitated towards natural alternatives—mosquito repellents included.
What’s The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Bug Repellent?
Almost every bug repellent you see on store shelves is synthetic. For a long time, synthetic mosquito repellent seemed like the only viable option to keep our babies bite-free. As parents like us have grown more conscious of what we’re putting on and in our children’s bodies, bug repellents have been re-examined from a more health-conscious point of view.
DEET is toxic enough to dissolve hard compounds such as plastics and nylon, so why would we put it on our children’s skin? Our ancestors survived for millennia without these lab-created toxins, and we can look towards the natural world for a better alternative.
Natural mosquito repellents often use essential oils to keep these pesky pests away. They don’t need to be tampered with in a lab to become more potent, and they’re extracted from plants we know and love, like Lemon Eucalyptus oil, peppermint, or lavender. These natural repellents can even be mixed together for an even stronger, longer-lasting effect.
Is Bug Repellent Even Necessary?
We love taking our families out into nature. Seeing butterflies, ladybugs, and other beautiful insects can enrich our lives and fill our children with a love for the natural world. Sadly, not everything in our local parks and hiking trails have our best interests at heart.
Mosquitoes are not our friends.
That may sound harsh, but mosquitoes can spread diseases like Zika virus, West Nile virus, and malaria, in addition to leaving those nasty, itchy bites.
Mosquitoes are drawn in by smell. Pregnancy, type O blood, sweat, carbon dioxide, and alcohol all make us targets for mosquitoes. Thankfully, knowledge is power, and we’ve been able to create natural mosquito repellents with smells that overpower our natural odors.
Why Are Chemical Bug Sprays Bad?
Technically speaking, everything is made up of chemicals, even water! But there is a difference between natural chemicals that you can find in nature and synthetic chemicals produced in a lab. Synthetic chemicals like DEET always carry some risk, but the levels in some mosquito repellent sprays are downright dangerous.
Kids under 12 should be using a bug repellent with 10% or less DEET—if you’re okay with putting DEET on your children in the first place. The top four products on Walmart’s website when you search “bug repellent” contain 15%, 25%, and 40% of DEET. So what are parents supposed to do?
Even adults should use products with no more than 15% to 30% of DEET, if they choose to use this harsh compound at all. Some of the repellents are well over the recommended amount for adults as well. That’s a scary fact when you remember that DEET can melt plastic.
While we know we should never put bug spray directly on our skin, it’s hard to avoid skin contact when spraying an aerosol on our clothes and belongings. The negative effects of DEET can appear slowly over time, and our risk is heightened the more we reapply.
Worst of all? These dangerous sprays aren’t even 100% effective, and your family may end the day with bites all the same.
What About Picaridin?
Picaridin is the most common substitute for DEET. Although it’s not as potent as DEET, it is still a synthetic chemical compound known to cause skin irritation. It won’t melt your camping supplies when you spray it a little too close to your campsite, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for your little ones.
Plus, you need to use a spray with over 20% of Picaridin for this chemical to effectively repel mosquitoes. When you have to use more to get less, you end up exposing your family to tons of potential toxins—and you still get bitten.
So if you should not use DEET or Picaridin, then what do you use? There are other ways to keep mosquitoes away. Thankfully, there are more than a few types of natural mosquito repellents on the market for your family.
How Does Natural Bug Repellent Even Work?
As we mentioned above, natural bug repellents primarily work by covering up our natural scents that attract mosquitoes. However, some essential oils also have qualities that specifically keep pests away.
Some of the natural resources that have been proved to successfully repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other pests through various studies include:
- Citronella oil
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)
- Clove oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Geranium oil
- Neem oil
- Thyme oil
- Witch hazel
- Cedarwood oils
- Cinnamon oil
- Soybean oil
Combine these active ingredients in the right way, and you have a pretty strong repellent without the harsh chemicals (and a much better smell).
Remember that essential oils, and oils extracted straight from these substances, should not be put on the skin by themselves. Instead, they should all be used in a mixture with a carrier oil like coconut oil or soybean oil to dilute them a little bit and prevent skin irritation.
Where Can I Find Natural Mosquito Repellents?
Although you may already have all of these oils in your cabinets, that doesn’t mean you should DIY a natural mosquito repellent at home. Companies like The Natural Patch Co. have created the perfect blend of natural ingredients to keep your family safe, so you can experience all of the benefits of natural repellents without any of the guesswork.
The Natural Patch Co.’s BuzzPatch can protect the whole family from our least favorite bugs. These DEET-free, Picaridin-free patches use many of the essential oils listed above to make the most potent, most effective, and safest repellent mixture.
Also, forget about that nasty scent that you’ll find in most chemical mosquito repellents. BuzzPatch’s sweet-smelling ingredients will make any day better, whether you’re having a family dinner al fresco or going on an outdoor adventure.
We created BuzzPatch with our kids in mind—although they’re perfect for children and parents alike. Instead of making your kids wait for your spray repellent to dry, all you have to do is stick this patch onto your kid’s clothes. Plus, these stickers have adorable emoji faces your kids will love. This hassle-free interaction will make getting out the door a whole lot easier.
What If I’ve Already Been Bitten?
Eek—sometimes, we get bitten when we least expect it. Take a deep breath, and find some awesome mosquito bite relief.
For as many harsh chemicals that mosquito repellents and insecticides contain, many anti-itch relief creams carry those same ick-inducing ingredients. Thankfully, there are natural bite relief products on the market as well, if you know where to look.
MagicPatch provides a safe, DEET-free formula to stop itching in its tracks. Its simple, gridded shape drains the mosquito saliva that’s causing all of these unwanted reactions for relief without any chemicals.
MagicPatch lasts up to seven days, it’s waterproof, and perfect to stick anywhere. Whether you or your kids were bitten on your faces, ankles, arms, or anywhere else, MagicPatch has you covered.
A Beautiful Day Is a Sticker Away
Ditch the DEET. Natural mosquito repellents like BuzzPatch are a safe alternative to chemical sprays and other harsh products, so you can keep your family bite-free while still looking out for their long-term health.
Remember to always read the product label before purchasing a repellent product, and enjoy your time in the sunshine bonding with your loved ones.
The 10 best natural mosquito repellents | Medical News Today
10 Natural Ingredients That Repel Mosquitos | Healthline
Insect repellent: Scientists find insect DEET receptors, develop safe alternatives to DEET | Science Daily
Natural vs. Chemical Bug Spray | HealthNetwork
DEET Fact Sheet | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)