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Bug Repellent: Joy Dishwashing Liquid

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | June 1, 2010

lemonjoy.jpgI was talking with a friend recently, and she shared a heretofore-unknown-to-me use for Lemon Joy dishwashing liquid.  I was so surprised by it, and wanted to share it with ya’ll!

Turns out, Lemon Joy can be applied directly to the skin as an incredibly effective tick repellent.  In fact, it seems it’s so effective that my friend sends her toddler son outside into her deer tick-laden Westchester NY backyard, and he never picks up a bug.  This is astonishing to me!  There are so many sprays and cremes and lotions which aim to do the same thing, some on the natural side and most on the not-so-natural end,  but I’ve not heard of them being nearly as effective.  And in a part of the world in which Lyme Disease is a real concern, this seems like a minor miracle.

I was also told that it’s used at Scout camps as a mosquito repellent for large areas–  it’s mixed with water, and sprayed all over the ground in the areas where people congregate.  Apparently this is also a really effective solution.

So I got to wondering how safe Joy is to use directly on the body, and when sprayed directly on the ground and plantlife.  Obviously, Joy isn’t a “natural” brand–but does that mean it’s distinctly unsafe?  And if it is, how does it rank in comparison to other bug repellents such as, oh, say, DEET?

Wikipedia says that “Joy dishwashing liquid contains both anionic and nonionic surfactants (each of which are biodegradable) and no phosphate.”  That doesn’t sound so bad…  but when I searched for a list of ingredients, this is what I found: “Water , Sodium Lauryl Sulfate , Sodium Pareth-23 , C12-14-16 Dimethyl Amine Oxide , SD Alcohol 40-B , Undeceth-9 , PPG-26 , Sodium Chloride , Cyclohexanediamine , Polyacetate , Fragrance , FD&C Yellow #5 , D&C Red No. 33.”

Now, I’m not a chemist, but besides the first ingredient– water– the rest of those  don’t seem so healthy to me. Are they better for us than DEET?   I’m not at all sure.  But since I do resort to the super-harsh chemical potions once or twice a year, when I’m deep in the woods for extended periods of time, I’m willing to give this a shot instead.  I think the marketing brilliance of the product being named “Joy” and smelling of bright citrus and colored such a pretty yellow goes a long way towards me wanting it to be a useful buggie option, even though I really do know better.

Have you tried this trick?  Do you have other buggie-dissuading techniques to share with the class?

[Image by Noego via Creative Commons]

Topics: Health | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments

Comment by Pipp
2010-06-01 10:05:10

Well lets help out. Most of that stuff is surfactants of one sort or another (none are listed as toxic but all are considered irritants, which would be expected as they are surfactants). Then there is salt (sodium chloride) some ethanol (treated so you can’t drink it), the lemony smell, and the stuff to make it yellow. Better than DEET? Most likely but definately not something you should drink!
For keeping the bugs off, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. The bit where they dilute it and spray it about, that will work to keep any insects that are on the grass out of the air. The surfactants mess with their wings resulting in crap aerodynamics, so no flying. I would highly doubt it would in any way discourage other bugs from flying in. However if the new bugs landed on the treated grass they would also be affected. How safe that would be for your lawn in the long run, not so good but in small amounts occasionally I doubt you will see any plant death.

 
Comment by Sarah
2010-06-01 23:31:07

Considering the ways in which Lyme Disease has affected my life, I would try anything. I have 3rd stage neurologic Lyme that I contracted as a camp counselor in Westchester, NY in 1997 and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. If Joy works, I’d not be against applying it when I went on a hike or something. That said, a lot of that stuff does sound icky. DEET is pretty bad too though…

 

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