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SC Johnson Statement: Repellents with DEET Can Be Used with Confidence When Label Directions are Followed

From time to time, rumors or articles surface that raise questions about the impact of the ingredient DEET. We want to make it very clear that when used according to label directions, all SC Johnson products can be used with confidence, including those that may contain DEET, such as many of those sold under our OFF!® brand of insect repellents.

About the Repellent Ingredient DEET

N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, also known as DEET, is an active ingredient found in many personal repellent formulas. It is a nearly colorless liquid with a faint characteristic odor. In 1946, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed DEET for use by the U.S. Army. The liquid became available for civilians in 1957. Today, DEET is registered as a personal insect repellent for direct application to the skin and can be used on both adults and children when used as directed by the label.SC Johnson makes a variety of DEET products under the Autan® and OFF!® brand names. While our Greenlist™ ingredient selection program means we are always looking for better and better ingredient options, DEET has a solid, long-standing reputation. It has been applied many billions of times by people for over 60 years.

What do Authorities Say about DEET?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend repellents with active ingredients including DEET and Picaridin. According to the CDC, DEET provides effective and reliable protection from mosquitoes. Additionally, insect repellents containing DEET are approved for use on people when applied according to the label instructions.

The World Health Organization and the CDC have declared DEET effective in repelling mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which may carry the Zika virus, dengue fever virus and chikungunya, which are of concern in many parts of the word. Product with higher concentrations of DEET also are effective at repelling ticks, which may carry Lyme disease.

How Does DEET Work?

DEET is an active ingredient found in many repellent formulas. Think of repellents as radar-jammers. Many insects, including adult female mosquitoes, are attracted to us by the odor of the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas that we exhale. The repellent affects the scent receptors in biting insects, making it difficult for them to recognize us as a source of food.

Generally, the more DEET a personal repellent contains, the longer it will last. However, a higher concentration of active ingredient does not mean the product will repel mosquitoes. Higher concentrations of DEET work well during activities that involve being outside in mosquito infested areas for an extended period of time, while lower percentages work well for activities that keep you outside for only a few hours.

How to Use Pest Control Products

Before using a personal repellent, always read the product label first to make sure you are using the product that’s right for you and your family. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the particular repellent you choose.

  • Personal repellents should be used on exposed skin and clothes to prevent mosquitoes from biting. Be sure to apply repellents only to exposed skin and clothing and never underneath clothing. 
  • If you plan to wear sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and then insect repellent over it.
  • When using personal repellent, avoid contact with the eyes, lips and ears, and never spray or rub the product over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. 
  • To use repellent on the face, apply it to your hands first, and then distribute it over the face and neck. 
  • If a personal repellent comes in contact with the eyes, wash them with water. 
  • After applying, wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap.
  • Do not allow children to handle repellents. Either spray or apply cream on your own hands first before putting it on a child. 
  • It is also important not to apply repellents in closed rooms or apply in excess – heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.
  • Remember that every repellent has specific instructions for application, so always consult the product label before applying.

As a family company, nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of the families who use SC Johnson products. Our products meet or exceed the high standards and regulations set by government regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other global markets in which they are sold.

We want to make it clear that, like all of SC Johnson's products, our repellent products that contain DEET can be used with confidence when label directions are followed.