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How to Use Repellent

EPA-registered insect repellents come in wipes, sprays, and lotions

​You are most likely to find insect repellent in a spray can or bottle for applying on skin or clothing.
Insect repellent in any form should always be applied according to label instructions, which are usually listed on the back of the product container.

General Instructions for Spray Repellent

To prevent mosquito bites:

  • Spray your entire body with repellent, including your clothes and exposed skin — don't forget the top of your feet and the back of your neck and hands.

To prevent tick bites:

  • Spray your body from the waist down, including legs, ankles, and shoes — ticks usually crawl onto you from the grass, ground, or places where you sit.

Remember these important points to use repellent safely: 

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          • Hold the spray can 6 to 8 inches away from yourself in an open area, and spray slowly and evenly across your clothes and exposed skin
          • Apply repellent to your face or a child’s face by first spraying repellent into your hands, and then applying on the face
          • Wash your hands with soap and water after applying repellent, especially before eating or drinking
          • Keep repellent out of reach of children

red XDON’T

          • Spray repellent in enclosed areas 
          • Spray repellent at insects to kill them 
          • Spray repellent under your clothes
          • Spray repellent directly on your face or in anyone’s face
          • Spray repellent near the eyes, nose, mouth, or on cuts or open wounds
          • Allow children to apply insect repellent themselves
          • Spray repellent on your child’s hands (children often put their hands in their mouth)
          • Reapply repellent more often than directed by the product label

For more information about how to use insect repellent, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Using Insect Repellents Safely and Effectively webpage


  • Frequently reapplying repellent will not make it work better. Look for labels on the repellent container that tell you how long the product will protect you from mosquitoes and ticks.

  • To reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and ticks, wear long sleeves and pants, and spray repellent on your clothes. (Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, like yoga pants.)

  • Check your entire body for ticks after returning indoors. Don't forget to check children and pets!

  • Wash your clothes and bathe after using insect repellent and returning indoors.

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