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 ourmeans 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.