Deter Compared to Other Insect Repellents

Types of Insect Repellents

Before we get to our comparison, it’s important to know that there are two general types of insect repellents. Synthetic repellents use man-made active ingredients, the most common of which is DEET. Natural repellents use botanic active ingredients that are found in the natural world. Deter is one example of a natural insect repellent. For the purposes of this article we will compare Deter to DEET (the most popular synthetic repellent) and to the range of other natural repellents on the market.



DEET is a chemical that was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, and it has been used as a civilian insect repellent for over 6 decades. All skin-applied synthetic insect repellents must be registered by the EPA to indicate that they have been tested for human safety. DEET products are registered, meaning that they have been tested for safety and effectiveness.

However, this determination is the conclusion of the overall body of evidence against the product. This means that most studies find DEET to be pose minimal risk, but not all of them. For example, Duke University conducted DEET studies in the early 2000s and found that “the chemical causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use.” Other studies have linked DEET to learning and memory problems, motor deficits, seizures and gastrointestinal problems. Because of the many studies that suggest a safety issue for DEET, Health Canada has banned insect repellents that contain over 30% DEET.

Natural Insect Repellents

Insect repellents that use natural or botanical active ingredients do not need to be registered by the EPA. In the 1990s the EPA evaluated these natural ingredients and “determined that the active ingredients posed minimal risk to human health in the percentages found in products on the market” thereby exempting them from registration. Some examples of active ingredients in this category include citronella oil, cedar oil, geranium oil, peppermint or peppermint oil, and soybean oil. Deeming these products to be “minimal risk” is not quite the same thing as deeming them safe though, and very few companies take the time to do safety tests on their products.


Unlike other natural insect repellents on the market, Deter has taken the time to perform an independent scientific test evaluating the safety of Deter insect repellent. In a 6 week study, Deter insect repellent was tested for skin irritations and skin sensitization on a panel of subjects. The results showed no signs of irritations or sensitization on any of the test subjects, making Deter Insect Repellent the only DEET-free natural insect repellent on the market that has been clinically tested for safety.



DEET was synthetically created to repel insects and is quite effective. There are some concerns that it may be losing its effectiveness, but in general DEET is the most recommended and the most widely used insect repellent ingredient.

Natural Insect Repellents

Natural insect repellents have not typically held up to tests for effectiveness. A 2015 Consumer Reports study evaluated a number of natural repellents whose active ingredients included plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass and rosemary and found that none of them held up for more than 1 hour against mosquitoes.


In 2013 Mariner Biomedical, the makers of Deter Insect Repellent, put Deter up to the test against other popular insect repellents on the market – Cutter with 7% DEET, Off Deep Woods with 25% DEET, and two botanical repellents, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Bite Blocker Xtreme Sportsman. Insect repellent was applied to test subjects who were then exposed to mosquitoes every 10 minutes for the duration of the 6 hour study.

The results showed that Deter Insect Repellent significantly out-performed Cutter 7% DEET, Repel and Bite Blocker. Deter was shown to be as effective as Off with 25% DEET, and it effectively repelled mosquitoes for the entire 6 hours.

Based on independent scientific studies, we are confident that Deter offers the safest and most effective form of insect repellent available on the market. Deter Insect Repellent outperforms other natural insect repellents in terms of safety and effectiveness. It also offers a safer alternative to synthetic insect repellents while being just as effective as 25% DEET. Deter Insect Repellent proves that you do not have to sacrifice safety or effectiveness when choosing an insect repellent – you can have them both with Deter.