What does bug spray smell like?

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
Often wearers say a perfume they don’t like smells like bug spray. I never use bug spray (not that many bugs) and don’t know what its notes are. Maybe some perfumes I wear do smell like bug spray but ignorance is bliss and If so I would have no clue.

So what exactly is the bug spray accord?
 

hednic

Basenotes Institution
Oct 25, 2007
There are so many different masking agents manufactuters use to make the lethal chemicals smell as pleasant as possible. The one our household uses smells slightly citrusy, slightly soapy. I imagine they don't all smell alike.
 

donna255

Basenotes Institution
Jul 16, 2004
I have fly spay which I use now and then but for me, it has no real smell. Yes, it smells but quite bland, they may have changed what old style sprays used to smell like. As a child, my granny used one called Sniff It And Snuff It, which was quite chemical as I remember. It might've had DTD in it?

Lancôme Magie Noire, I once had someone tell me it smelt like fly killer:ROFLMAO:
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
As others have said, there are many different scents used in bug sprays so it is hard to know precisely what someone means by the description.

Citronella might a one note that could make someone think “bug spray.” It has been used as an only mildly effective natural mosquito repellent. Perfume ingredients such as citronellal and geraniol are isolated from citronella. The smell is citrusy, grassy, and somewhat terpenic.
 

Castingshadows

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 14, 2020
We have a natural bug spray that uses peppermint oil, citronella, various citruses, rosemary and something else I don’t remember. I think the peppermint oil and citronella are the biggest culprits for things smelling like “bug spray”.

I think that coupled with a sharp alcohol aroma will make someone think of bug spray.
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
My posts so far are an ongoing roundup of what has been posted by others. I’m keeping note of the suggested components to hopefully end up with a good overview of the bug spray accord.

So far except for the “chemical” and “alcohol” notes it smells pretty good to me!
 
Jul 14, 2017
I have fly spay which I use now and then but for me, it has no real smell. Yes, it smells but quite bland, they may have changed what old style sprays used to smell like. As a child, my granny used one called Sniff It And Snuff It, which was quite chemical as I remember. It might've had DTD in it?

Lancôme Magie Noire, I once had someone tell me it smelt like fly killer:ROFLMAO:
“SNIFF IT AND SNUFF IT” oof…this is fantastic. Marketing at its apex 🤣🤣🤣
 

Toxicon

Basenotes Dependent
May 29, 2021
I suspect this might tie back to my jokey rant about bug spray in the Friday sync - I agree with everyone that it comes in many “flavors”. What I was describing was a harsh chemical smell only lightly masked with some kind of synthetic fragrance, and in this particular instance, it was actively irritating to my nose (much like the harsh chemical vibe I get from bug repellant like Off or Cutter, or even the sharp pesticide stench of Raid).

For this particular scent (Bois Imperial), which I think is mostly akigalawood dosed very high and padded out with ambroxan for even more longevity, it reminded me of the Frontline flea & tick treatment I put on my cats. Not sure if that’s helpful as a descriptor, but something in that scent does not agree with my nose!
 

PrinceRF

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 3, 2020
I'd add that there's a noticeable level of synthetic feel. The notes were put together by various synthetics which is something I find in many mainstream designers.
Yes, in my experience, bug spray is very synthetic smelling with pleasant notes added that attempt to mask the smell of the harsh chemicals, much like household cleaners.
 

Bonnette

Missing Oakmoss
Basenotes Plus
Jul 25, 2015
Just go get a can of insect repellant that contains DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), and give the air a spritz. Then you'll know what "bug spray" smells like. You'll spot similarities to some perfumes forever after.
 

StylinLA

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 9, 2009
I think the term covers a variety of scents, most often a kind of harsh chemical smelling citrus. Usually smelling more chemical than citrus.

Deet is a mosquito repellent that has a certain aroma. Some bug repellents use citronella.

It might also depend on age of the person claiming "smells like bug spray." My ex wife used to wear a scent with opening notes that smelled to me like Raid bug spray from the 1970s. I think the bug spray scenting technology has evolved over the years.
 

StylinLA

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 9, 2009
For this particular scent (Bois Imperial), which I think is mostly akigalawood dosed very high and padded out with ambroxan for even more longevity, it reminded me of the Frontline flea & tick treatment I put on my cats. Not sure if that’s helpful as a descriptor, but something in that scent does not agree with my nose!
Well, it's certainly specific.
 

Goldweave

Basenotes Member
Jan 14, 2018
I can't describe the bug spray accord, but for me, bug spray is the Ortho (a brand) bug bomb smell from the early 90s. I suspect they still make bug bombs for your house, but whether they smell the same now or not, I can't say. I never used them myself - fortunately I never had roaches to any degree, plus that smell made me gag. And I'm pretty sure that stuff really does rot your brain.

But anyway, back when I was married to the wrong husband (ahem) he took a dislike to one of my perfumes and would complain to high heaven that it smelled like bug spray. :rolleyes: So we're taking a walk one evening through our neighborhood, and all of a sudden he freezes, head goes up like a dog who has caught a scent. "OMG! What IS that smell??? (sniffing some more) It's glorious!" I just stared at him like he had lobsters crawling out of ears. For the length of the entire block we were walking, I had been getting whiffs of an Ortho bug bomb. Someone was obviously airing out their house after using one. This guy complained that my perfume smelled like bug spray, while thinking that actual bug spray was the most glorious perfume he'd ever smelled. If that doesn't illustrate the total subjectivity of "good" and "bad" in scents, nothing does. :rolleyes:
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
I suspect this might tie back to my jokey rant about bug spray in the Friday sync - I agree with everyone that it comes in many “flavors”. What I was describing was a harsh chemical smell only lightly masked with some kind of synthetic fragrance, and in this particular instance, it was actively irritating to my nose (much like the harsh chemical vibe I get from bug repellant like Off or Cutter, or even the sharp pesticide stench of Raid).

For this particular scent (Bois Imperial), which I think is mostly akigalawood dosed very high and padded out with ambroxan for even more longevity, it reminded me of the Frontline flea & tick treatment I put on my cats. Not sure if that’s helpful as a descriptor, but something in that scent does not agree with my nose!

I did see your post, Toxicon, and it evoked memories of how often the bug spray phrase is used to describe unliked perfumes, thus the thread trying to pin it down.

Just go get a can of insect repellant that contains DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), and give the air a spritz. Then you'll know what "bug spray" smells like. You'll spot similarities to some perfumes forever after.

I’ll take a pass on that, Bonnette, and take your word for it. They try to make the bug spray chemicals smell like perfume and instead they end up making perfume smell like bug spray.
 
Aug 16, 2022
Just go get a can of insect repellant that contains DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), and give the air a spritz. Then you'll know what "bug spray" smells like. You'll spot similarities to some perfumes forever after.
I did just that, Sportsmen Deep Woods OFF! with 30% DEET, and it's nothing like it was ages ago. It smells like powder fresh deodorant and I couldn't discern any of the unique chemical smell it used to have. Was it an additive to make it smell powerful? Possibly because you wouldn't smell this and think anything such as bugs will hate it. I have access to some old cans so I'll see if I can place the accord...
 

woodnotes55

Basenotes Dependent
Oct 27, 2016
I did just that, Sportsmen Deep Woods OFF! with 30% DEET, and it's nothing like it was ages ago. It smells like powder fresh deodorant and I couldn't discern any of the unique chemical smell it used to have. Was it an additive to make it smell powerful? Possibly because you wouldn't smell this and think anything such as bugs will hate it. I have access to some old cans so I'll see if I can place the accord...
Someone gave me a big box full of many sprays and I haven't bought any in a long time. But it's hard to imagine bug spray smelling like powder. Maybe you are onto something and they made it stink just so people would think it was effective???

Fiveoaks, I saw the thread but had no good answer and wondered what others would say. Not to be over critical, but not sure about the others either!!!! To me, bug spray is just one of those things....... you know it when you smell it!!! But it doesn't really smell like anything else I can think of. An example.... maybe not a good one.... but gasoline. What does gasoline smell like? IT smells like gasoline!!! I can't really describe it.... and bug spray is kind of the same. I guess you could describe it as dark, perhaps pungent or not pleasant smelling.... after that I"m out of adjectives, sorry! The best suggestion maybe spray it if you know someone that has some. But even then... it may be if it's not vintage it won't match what people are referring to. Vintage bugspray!!! This post is definitely off the rails......

(If you were in the states I would spray a piece of paper and send it to you!!! Maybe someone in CA can do that??)
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
Someone gave me a big box full of many sprays and I haven't bought any in a long time. But it's hard to imagine bug spray smelling like powder. Maybe you are onto something and they made it stink just so people would think it was effective???

Fiveoaks, I saw the thread but had no good answer and wondered what others would say. Not to be over critical, but not sure about the others either!!!! To me, bug spray is just one of those things....... you know it when you smell it!!! But it doesn't really smell like anything else I can think of. An example.... maybe not a good one.... but gasoline. What does gasoline smell like? IT smells like gasoline!!! I can't really describe it.... and bug spray is kind of the same. I guess you could describe it as dark, perhaps pungent or not pleasant smelling.... after that I"m out of adjectives, sorry! The best suggestion maybe spray it if you know someone that has some. But even then... it may be if it's not vintage it won't match what people are referring to. Vintage bugspray!!! This post is definitely off the rails......

(If you were in the states I would spray a piece of paper and send it to you!!! Maybe someone in CA can do that??)

Woodnotes 55, It’s probably fairly easy to sniff a few bug spray brands in a hardware store here, something I can look into. Lots of people here go camping and there should be a good variety. For my part, after one episode with black flies decades ago I have not gone camping since.

Reading about the question of vintage vs. modern bug spray made my day! 🙂 I agree with Pheusinger it’s quite legitimate. We don’t know, when someone accuses a perfume, to which they are referring. Definitely something to include in a sound critique.
 

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