5 tips for wearing insect repellent


April 17, 2017

PHOTO: National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/repel.html)

PHOTO: National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/repel.html)

Whether it’s protecting your technicians as they work outdoors this season, or sharing insights with your customers as an extra measure for the tick and mosquito work you’re doing for them, here are five simple tips on the most effective way to use over-the-counter, personal insect repellent products.

  1. The label is the law. Like any chemical treatment, the labeled directions on the repellent product should be followed to a T.
  2. Repellent vs. sunscreen. Because we often tend to use insect repellent in tandem with sunscreen, make sure that you know which product to use first. Generally, it is advised to use sunscreen and other sun protection products first, let them dry and absorb into your skin and only then apply insect repellent. There are two reasons behind this. First is the fact that most insect repellents have the ability to lessen the efficiency of sunscreen. Second, you usually need to reapply sunscreen more often than insect repellent, and this type of application makes sure that the repellent stays efficient even if you reapply the sunscreen over top of it.
  3. Over the clothes only, please. Do not spray insect repellent under your clothes, because it can cause rash and allergic reactions. You can, however, spray your clothes and any exposed skin with repellent, as most products don’t leave any residue. (Source: U.S. EPA)
  4. Use your hands to apply to your face. By not spraying directly on your face, this lessens the risk of accidentally swallowing the product or getting it in your eyes. Don’t forget to use the repellent on your ankles and knees, two common bite spots. And never put it on children’s hands, as they tend to touch their eyes and mouths.
  5. More isn’t better. Pest management professionals already know that recommended doses on labels are there for a reason — but their customers might still be in the “more is better” mindset. It’s time to educate them about that myth.

For more information to pass along to your customers (and your team), check out the “Choosing and Using Insect Repellents” page of the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


About the Author

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Contributor Karen Thompson is editor of InsectCop.net, which focuses on all things mosquito control.

Leave A Comment

  1. Is there any spray in Particular PMP recommends for Applicators during the summer/spring months? Our technicans are often long sleeved, full pant and work boot but their necks and hands are exposed to the insects and are looking for relief. This article goes over the basics of repellant use but not any particular brand or formulation. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. PMP Staff says:

      Great question, Aaron! We don’t endorse any product in particular, but the National Pesticide Information Center link in the article has a lot of great info. One of the links it goes to is from the EPA itself, titled “Find the Insect Repellent That’s Right for You.” You take a little quiz and it returns with some options: EPA.gov/insect-repellents/find-insect-repellent-right-you. Hope this helps! — The Eds.