How Insect Repellents are Made


Pests are unwelcome wherever they reside, as they tend to cause damage and destruction no matter where they go. That’s why, at the first sign of infestation, calling for pest control services is highly recommended. After all, getting the professionals to do take care of them is the only way to completely ensure that the job is done – and that it’s done right.

But for those times when the infestation is minor and a simple repellent can do the job, then a clean sweep is enough. Though, one does wonder where insect repellents came from, and how they were made.

Take a gander at its interesting history:



The ingredients of mosquito repellents are made from various materials such as muds, tars, plant extracts, oils, and even smoke. But back then, citronella oil was the first efficient active ingredient. In fact, the oil was used as early as 1901 for medicinal, fragrance, and hairdressing purposes which lead to the discovery that it contains a chemical ingredient which has a strong repellent activity if applied on a huge portion. By 1929, other ingredients were used to repel insects. Some failed but others were successful – the curiosity to find out which would work propelled scientists to conduct deeper studies to create the most effective repellent for the public. Dimethyl phthalate, Indalone, Rutgers 612, and DEET were just some of the major ingredients used to create repellents before, and they are still used today in the forms of oil, lotions or creams, and aerosols.


citronella natural insect repellent
Citronella plant, an early natural insect repellent.

Production of insect repellents

There are numerous structures and types of insect repellents but the production and materials used are usually somewhat similar. Majority of the factories that create insect repellents have the same process:


  1. Compounding

The initial step is to do the compounding, wherein the raw materials are combined altogether in big stainless steel tanks strong enough to contain all the ingredients. Aerosol, alcohol, DEET, fragrance, and emollients are the usual materials combined while propellants are added later on. These ingredients are highly flammable, so the compounding procedure is executed with extreme caution. Once this step is done, a series of tests occur before the product moves on the next procedure.

  1. Filling

Machines with conveyor belts are used to mix all of the materials to create the final mosquito repellent that will then fill up the empty cans in a nearby conveyor line. The machines also ensure to sterilize the product to remove debris or dust before it moves on to the next step – packaging. There, the product is placed in the can and is pressurized once propellants are added in. After that, they are then transferred to a hot tank and undergo crucial checking before it gets approved for public distribution.

  1. Boxing

After quality control, the repellents are then labelled and shipped out to retailers.

Unfortunately, due to the underlying similarities between repellents, most mosquitoes have become immune to them, some of which even evolved to overcome them completely. That’s why personal safety against them and the diseases that they bring is now more important than ever; always make sure that you are defended against possible sickness by keeping yourself and your environment clean.