DEET free bug spray

Has anyone tried the natural sprays such as catnip oil and pyrethreum? I’m looking for an alternative to DEET because it will melt paddle clothes and helmet liners.



Here I go again…
… with another “how about this instead” reply.

You are right that DEET will disolve a lot of plastic-based materials. The problem can be severe with 100-percent DEET products if you aren’t careful, but is miminal if you use bug juice with 30 percent or less. Also, how about just avoiding the use of spray? I’ve been using the liquid stuff that comes in little bottles forever now, and greatly prefer it to spray. For one thing, the amount of bulk for a given amount of repellant is about 1/100th that you get with spray, and you can control where it goes. Don’t use more than you need, and after you apply it, wash off the gripping surfaces of your fingers and hands so you don’t transfer it to other objects. I haven’t had any clothing or paddling gear get damaged by mosquito repellent, and I use the stuff very often.

they wash off more easily
They are fine. I like combos of ingredients best I used to have some Buzz Off (but that name was bought out by the company that puts permethrin in clothes) and now I cant find what it was called. Its a mix of lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint and a couple of other things.It was sort of effective for a short time and it unfortunately washed off with sweat and water. I use it on the dogs face where the black flies really bite. I am wary of DEET on the dogs face.

For me I use 100 percent DEET but I dont spray it on. Put it in the hat band, on the back of the hands and the ankles.

If you learn to apply bug repellent properly you will not dissolve your gear. Never get it on the palm of your hand. Use the back of your hand only. Use your knuckles to put it on your ear.

Every morning…
…I use liquid deet. In the tent before I finish dressing I put 100% deet on exposed skin (hands, wrists, ears, forehead, neck, back of hands). Then I wipe my hands on my socks. When I leave the tent I wash my palms. No problems with bugs the rest of the day. I camp in Maine 8 to 10 weeks every year with this ritual. All my gear is fine. Alternatives are not nearly as effective.

Rarely nend more than 20% DEET
Nothing is more effective and if ticks and black flys are a problem then you’ll want real DEET. Use a lower concentration and just don’t get it on your plastic stuff.

Deet Alternatives
Yep, I’ve tried the catnip oil, citronella, cedar oil, skin-so-soft, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, and every other alternative that comes out because I hate the smell, feel, and plastic dissolving properties of DEET. Some of the natural formulations work pretty good for a short time if the skeeters and flies aren’t too hungry. But when the buzzing critters are mean or you need long-term protection, the natural alternatives just don’t compare to DEET. I try keep it off my skin by applying to collars, sleeve cuffs, top of hat, pants legs and socks unless they are really viscious. You can avoid plastic damage if you just watch how you spray/apply and wipe your palms before you pick up anything plastic. I hope someday something better will come out.

Greenban extra strength
but herbs like pennyroyal are toxic as well.

Not waterproof, works pretty well though

DEET alternative
try Bite Blocker

Cutters Advanced Formula
Last year I tried a new product that may interest you - Cutters Advanced Formula. This is the new stuff that uses Picaridin rather than DEET. I used it in the BWCA and the stuff seems to work although it had to be reapplied often. It seemed like it got sweated off fast and had to be reapplied before every portage.

I had both the spray pump bottle and the wipes. Both were good but I really like the wipes.

Natrapel Plus

I have had reasonably good results with this product. It seems to work against noseeums and mosquitos, but I have not tested it against black flies and deer flies.

Make sure to get the “Plus” version - the older version did not work as well IMHO.


Natrapel Plus and Greenban
Have used them both and work well enough; they don’t work as well as high percentage DEET, but anything that makes my skin “Tingle” like that can’t be good for you! When the insects are really bad, I douse a bandana in it and wear it arround my neck and this works well. And ATTITUDE PLAYS AN IMPORTANT PART when the bugs are bad; try to focus on something other than the critters or they can drive you mad, especially when you’re in the BWCAW in late May and June! WW