Insect Repellents

What Is Deet?

DEET (diethyltoluamide) is contained in repellents and is the effective agent that repels insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and sandflies. It does not kill the insect.

How Does It Work?

DEET masks the odour of carbon dioxide and lactic acid given off by the body. It interferes with the mosquito's antennae.

How Effective Are Repellents?

No repellent is 100% effective and all should be used in conjunction with other insect avoidance measures.

What About Natural Repellents?

Most natural products (Citronella, Camphor, Clove, Geranium and others) only give short lasting protection – generally less than two hours. There are few studies that prove the effectiveness of natural repellents.

How do I use it?

What Percentage Of Deet Should I Use?

It is recommended by the World Health Organisation that no more than 30-40% DEET is applied to your skin. Concentrations above this provide relatively less additional protection, and excessive use can be toxic.

What Percentage Of Deet Should Be Used On Children?

For children who are travelling to high risk areas it is recommended to use no more than 20% DEET. Do a skin test to check that it is not too strong for your child's skin.

Special spray/roll-ons are available for children.

How Do I Apply A Sunscreen As Well As An Insect Repellent?

Apply your sunscreen first and allow it to dry for 2-3 minutes. Then apply your repellent.

How Often Should I Apply My Repellent?

Apply every 3-4 hours depending on the DEET% of your repellent. If you have been swimming or perspiring you will need to apply it more frequently.

Which Is Best – Roll-On, Spray Or Stick Application?

It is personal preference. We recommend that you use a product that you do not need to apply with your hands. It is most important that you are able to adequately cover exposed skin with the product that you choose to use.

TMCP Products DEET

Rid Tropical Strength 19% DEET 4-6 hour duration

Repel Tropical Strength Roll On, Spray & Sticks 30% DEET 4-6 hour duration

Repel Tropical Strength Wide Ball Roll On 125ml 40% DEET 6-8 hour duration

Kids Rid 7% DEET 3-4 hour duration

Updated August 2021.

© 2014, Travel Medicine Centre Perth