DEET on panels?

I can grab some pics soon, but I was camping for 4 days in the Salmon, ID area a couple weeks ago and was getting eaten ALIVE. Bugs have been bad this year. I sprayed some concentrated deet around my camper to cut the bug swarms. I had 75% deet. It looks like the deet permanently discolored the black panels on my camper. Has anyone had a similar experience? I guess I should have thought twice, because some bear cans say to not put deet “on or in”.

Interesting, deet is no joke. I do keep a small bottle of JungleJuice which is upper 90%s in my backpacking kit for the backcountry. I once had it leak a bit and it melted/dissolved the bag it was in!

When I was in the Army we’d put that on things and it seemed to eat everything. I had a set of sunglasses that arms just melted on.

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Hey @steezeman - Honestly, I’ve started to avoid deet-based products due to the negative health impacts (skin irritation related) and mainly due to how it interacts with most materials. While it’s not a solvent, it can act as one, particularly against stuff like plastics, synthetic fabrics, and painted surfaces. Mosquitos suck, but ruining your gear and possibly your trip is even… suckier?

I’d suggest looking towards Picaridin-based products vs. Deet as it’s less of an irritant, and it’s also way less greasy. However, due to Deet’s long standing popularity there are more products on the shelf in comparison. This stuff from Sawyer is a pretty solid 20% solution for skin, and unlike deet, I can apply it to gear too. However, Permethrin is what I’d suggest if you’re looking to apply it to gear/equip specifically. Don’t put the stuff on your skin, but it’s most effective I’ve used when in a ground tent.

I’m not fully anti-deet, but I’ve transitioned away to what I feel are safer and more efficient options and just can’t help but get concerned for my skin when something eats away at plastic and varnish.


I too am a huge fan of the Permethin treating of stuff. I actually get the higher concentration stuff at the Local IFA or Cal Ranch that is for livestock and such and thin it down (have to do some math to get to 20%) in 5 gallons of water, then just soak my clothes in there for a few hours, hang them to dry and I am good for a few months, I also spray my tents, sleeping bags, backpacks etc…

It will probably be stinky for a few days until the petroleum based thinners evaporate away completely so give yourself some time.


I totally agree, I avoid those most of the time and actually had to buy this stuff at the grocery store in Salmon because there weren’t any non-Deet options available. I was going insane because I was in an unfamiliar place all alone and every time I stopped on the forest service roads, swarms of at least 50 mosquitoes would appear out of nowhere on both sides of my camper. It was fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.

Thayne, deet is the most proven safe chemical for topical use on humans in history. Like ~9 billion uses and counting. But it does eat petroleum-based materials. We don’t yet know if picaridin is as safe, and it’ll be a long time until that happens, if ever.

The product you want for fabric impregnation is permethrin. Just avoid it if you have cats, it’s toxic to them (fine around dogs).

For area pest control, use a ThermaCELL, which releases alethrin to scare off skeeters.

And look! We’ve just listed the only 4 chemicals demonstrated by science to work against mosquitoes.


I have been meaning to try thermacell. Does it work against flies too? The mosquitoes are scary because pathogens, but the flies are just plain annoying.

They have a new formula out that works on flies I believe.

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Good to know. I’ll have to try one out.

We use the EX90 and it works really well. At this point, it comes along on every trip. Last weekend the flies were really bad where we were camping. Can’t say it kept them all away, but at least anecdotally, it helped some. We have switched from DEET to Picaridin, but still carry a small tube of DEET for extreme cases.


Us military uses permethin on uniforms to protect against bugs so there have been a few examples… then again we did test nuclear bomb effects on our soldier’s so not sure if that is a good or bad example

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Check out AliExpress for some cool rechargeable portable options options and cheaper pads for your thermacell, I have some USB pad heaters that work well for keeping everything out of the truck bed and tent

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Great thread. Agree with Wes about DEET human safety. Agree with Thayne about picaridin being less greasy. Agree with all about permethrin. Do those thermacells really work? Seemed to good to be true!

Great thread for sure, @Nevadan!

I should elaborate a bit though. I’m not anti-deet and will rock it if I’m unable to buy what I personally prefer. I’ve just used a few deet products that caused skin irritation, and so far the picaridin products have been pretty effective. So while I might not like the idea of it eating away at products, the science around its use is solid.

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If you think discoloring your panels is bad, spray it on your headlights/tail lights/ or any other plastic components :wink:


Thermacells work pretty good for me… Gnats, Mosquitos and chiggers for sure… they only slow down the flys though

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I haven’t done much research on things like thermacells, but have had a few trips with terrible bugs this year and need to look into it!

I have also had deet completely destroy a dry bag that it was stored in, it’s gnarly stuff.

I have had pretty good luck with a thermacell. Only con is it takes awhile to warm up and start working in the area. However, after a good 30-45 minutes, I do notice a significant decrease in mosquitoes.


To be honest here, most of us carry some sort of electrical supply and some are pretty large. I have a small version of this that’s battery powered, but I think this might be a better idea if you’ve got the power for it. Plus you get the satisfying sizzle.