Best Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito repellents make use of two main methods of getting mosquitoes off your back. First, they have a layer that spreads on the surface of your skin. This layer is toxic to mosquitoes. Second, they play around with the sense of smell of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes identify you because of the chemicals in your skin and breath. When you apply a mosquito repellent, they won’t be able to sense these chemicals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) has a terribly scary “33% mortality rate” and “significant brain damage in most survivors.” We’re talking about a real threat, not just something that happens in other parts of the developing world; and EEE isn’t the only mosquito-related virus out there today.  So how do you protect yourself?

There are many options for mosquito repellents on the market.  In case you’re not sure which is best for you, we’ve put together a list to help you decide and while also answering your questions on all things mosquito repellents.

Last Updated: September 12, 2018
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By Mackenzie Jervis:

We've updated our list to get you a mixture of options from natural products to options with DEET, to give you the best of all types of mosquito repellent. Our newest addition to our list is the Repel Sportsmen Max Lotion. This is a crowd favorite and great option for serious adventurers.

Our Top 3 Picks

Repel Sportsmen Max
  • Repel Sportsmen Max
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Long-Lasting
  • Very effective
  • Price: See Here
Off Deep Woods
  • Off Deep Woods
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Long-Lasting
  • Effective
  • Price: See Here
Burt's Bees Herbal
  • Burt's Bees Herbal
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very effective
  • Natural
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Mosquito Repellents

 

Repel Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent Lotion

Developed especially for campers, backpackers, fisherman, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the Repel Sportsmen Max formula is made with 40% DEET and repels mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. It is long-lasting, non-greasy and provides excellent protection for when it really matters.
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While not the most chemical-free on our list by any means, sometimes it's important to bring out the big guns for when it really counts. It's good to know that DEET, while many people want to avoid it, is safe when used properly and has been used as an insect repellent for more than 50 years. DEET is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting bit and the Repel Max lotion is just one option of DEET options on our list, though by far the crowd favorite.

The benefit of the lotion from Repel is the long-lasting and effective nature. Because the lotion lasts on the skin longer than a spray or candle, you can be assured that your skin will be protected from getting bit for up to 10 hours. Another benefit of the lotion is that it won't leave you feeling greasy like most sprays do. After being rubbed into the skin reviewers notice very little smell and no residue or oily feeling.

Not only does it work on mosquitos, but it also repels ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers, and fleas. So you can be assured that those nasty annoying bugs aren't going to be bothering you any time soon.

Pros
  • The use of it is quite safe
  • Long-lasting
  • Very effective
Cons
  • Must be careful when using around kids

Off Deep Woods

This Off product is quite different than the others on our list. While most lean toward the natural or DEET-free category, this Deep Woods product definitely contains DEET. But that shouldn't put you off the product right away. There might be moments where you would like a bit stronger of a product and this is definitely the one you should look at.
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Price: This is a decently priced product, especially compared to some of the others on our list. This won't break the bank while trying to keep the mozzies off you.

This aerosol spray is fantastic for instantly drying on your skin. You won't feel weighed down or sticky after applying.
Pros
  • Long lasting product
  • Dries instantly when applying
  • Inexpensive
  • Can apply directly to your skin
Cons
  • Not natural
  • Not as pleasant to smell as some other options on our list

Burt's Bees Herbal Mosquito Repellent

Burt’s Bee Herbal Mosquito Repellent, also given the name of The Defender, denies access to all sorts of bugs. From crawling to creeping, winging to stinging, to bugging and sucking. Rosemary oil, among other things, boosts the fact of it being 100% natural. Better yet, it’s very safe to apply.
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Weight: 14.4 ounces. It’s somewhat “heavier” in comparison to the two first products suggested
Price: it is within the reach of anyone. Easy to get. And won’t really hurt your pocket.
Contains rosemary oil
It’s 100% natural. No need to worry about getting stuff on your body that your skin won’t appreciate much.
Pros
  • Works on various insects
  • All natural
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Not as long-lasting as others

Simba Natural Mosquito Repellent Stickers

Simba Natural Mosquito Repellent Stickers
Simba Natural Mosquito Repellent Stickers are the best option for parents to immunize their kids against mosquitoes and their irritating bites. They are designed to fit carry around in wallets.
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Ingredients: Natural citronella and lemon with fresh, extracted herbal oil. Best mixture!
DEET-Free, which keeps you away from the danger of toxin
Price: It is a bit pricey, but it is so effective that it is worth the price
Weight: 3.2 Ounces. Barely noticeable
It requires no batteries whatsoever, which spares you any stress or worry about it not working.
Pros
  • Wide-reach for stickers
  • Long-lasting.
Cons
  • Not to touch skin
  • Can't be in direct sunlight

Babyganics DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent

Babyganics DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent
Because babies aren’t meant to stay indoor 24/7, this insect repellent is very useful to give them a well-protected outdoorsy life. Its strong, yet great-smelling scent is very pungent to all insects out there, especially nasty, little blood-suckers. So, play smart, play safe, and keep your babies at ease.
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With its base made upon 100% natural gentle-plant, you shall fear no chemical residue for your baby’s soft skin
Ingredients: 100% natural essential oils—Citronella, Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemongrass & Geranium
It is DEET-Free and grease-free as well
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Price: With this affordable price, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your hands on it
Pros
  • Targets many insects
  • Safe for daily use
  • Pleasant smell.
  •  It isn't sticky.
  • Safe for kids
Cons
  • Not useful on adults

Osana All Natural Mosquito Repellent Soap

Osana All Natural Mosquito Repellent Soap
Osana soap bars are great smelling soap bars that are 100% herbal, and that rid you immediately of mosquitoes. It is sufficient for you to use it in the shower to guarantee yourself a whole 24 hours mosquito-free. Getting a bar for yourself gets you another donated on your behalf to places most suffering from malaria.
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It is 100% herbal. It spares you the discomfort and bodily reactions that come with using chemicals
It is free of any animal products. 100% vegan
It is not toxic and friendly for children- this product does not contain any toxins that can harm the body in any way and it can also be used on children of all ages. It also does not contain any animal products.
It helps in the fight against malaria- every time you buy it, many others benefit as well. This is because Osana company donates soap to people around the world suffering from malaria. In addition to this, you also get a chance to be protected against malaria and other deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes.
It has a really pleasant smell- unlike other herbal soaps, Osana has a fragrance that is pleasant to the nose and is also gentle on the skin. It'll leave you smelling fresh all day long and keep you protected.
It is natural. Osana soap is made from natural plant products and comes in two forms; Citronella and Menthol. You'll get to enjoy nature's way of fighting mosquitoes when you use it.
It carries out more than one function. Osana not only protects the skin from the nasty and irritating mosquito bites but cleanses it from any impurity that may be brought by sweat and other impurity and keeps the skin moisturized as well.
Ingredients: Citronella Oil, Mentha Leaf Extract, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Safflower, Natural Fragrance, Water, Plant-based Preservatives
Price: Around $30 (Minus $5 with the sale Amazon offers)
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Pros
  • Safe for kids and adults
  • Proceeds help those with malaria
  • Healthy on the skin
Cons
  • Very pricey
  • It needs water to be used

Bug Bam! Insect Repellent Wristbands

Bug Bam! Insect Repellent Wristbands
Another all-natural bug repellent bracelet to be introduced and the last as well. Bug Bam! Is a great tool for kids and parents to keep mosquitoes and other insects away. Like the one before, it covers the scent that enables the little bloodsucker to detect its prey and leaves it in massive confusion. It comes in several colors for you and your kids’ joy and comfort.
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It's natural. Bug Bam makes use of products from nature, guaranteeing you only the best from our natural environment as you fight mosquitoes.
It comes in a variety of colors- get variety from the same wonderful product. It comes in colors such as black, pink and blue, just in case you love experimenting or you love something different once in a while.
It can be recycled- you don't have to throw it away once you've used it once. Bug Bam can be used more than once and still be effective at every round.
Works for a long time. Researchers have confirmed that it has the power to be effective for up to 100 hours.
Its package is resealable. If you choose to store it after use, the resealable package offers a tidy and conducive storage for your product.
Weight: Half an ounce. Too light to feel bothered with
Price: Varies between $7 and $5 if it is on sale. Amazon has a discount that goes up to 29% from time to time
Waterproof
100% recyclable
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Multiple color options
  • DEET-free.
  • Long-lasting
Cons
  • Not usable if very active
  • Limited sizes

Natural Citizen Insect & Bug Repellent

Natural Citizen Insect & Bug Repellent
Ours is a natural DEET-free insect repellent made to produce an essential oil based spray strong enough to match the bug’s synthetic counterparts. Our mixture of lemon eucalyptus, cedar, and other oils is a bug’s worst nightmare, but to you, is an alright, yet not-close-to-perfect perfume choice. With it filling the atmosphere, bugs shall immediately flee your territory. Should there be any bodily reaction to our essential oil based product, quit use straight away. Like any other bug spray, this one should be stored in a cool, dry place.
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Price
It’s not that expensive, but it’s worth it. And as they say: “If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain”
Natural spray guaranteed to rid you of bugs and insects

DEET-Free

Strong scent

Lasts about four hours per use, so three uses per day, maybe four, are more than enough to keep you comfortable.
Not recommended for kids under the age of 6

Weight: 9.6 ounces
Pros
  • DEET-Free
  • Guarantees a bug-free area
Cons
  • Not to be used by kids
  • Potential rash/bodily reaction to the use of it.
  • Not the best smell

Kinven Insect Repellent Braided Bracelets

Kinven Insect Repellent Braided Bracelets
Here’s a product that screams “Cool, stylish, effective”. Those wristbands are infused with special insect-repelling oils. They are perfection: Waterproof, non-greasy, long-lasting and wearable wherever you desire, ankle or wrist, it does not matter. What matters is that with those bands on, mosquitoes dare not come near you, wherever you are.
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When humans and animals exhale, they let out a portion of CO2. This latter, mosquitoes have a receptor to detect. With the help of certain oils that these bands have, such as citronella oil, mosquitoes find it really tough to locate a prey, since this oil covers the scent of humans/animals.

Weight: 0.8 ounces. They are almost weightless, so there comes no bother or discomfort with wearing them
Made out of fashionable PU leather. Designed to be easy to attach and reattach
Price: With the discount Amazon offers, you can easily get it for around $10
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Long-lasting
  • Good for adults and kids
  • Easy to use
  • No chemical smell
Cons
  • The protection tends to wear off after some time.

Murphy’s Natural Incense Mosquito Repellent Sticks

Murphy’s Natural Incense Mosquito Repellent Sticks
This product, like each of the ones suggested, is, in its form and effects different than the rest. Murphy’s are twelve incense sticks, which repels mosquitoes and other annoying bugs as they burn out. They take around two hours to burn.
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Strong scent. It has a scent that is strong and repellent to insects.
Made with essential oils. It's made from natural oils that are known to repel insects.
Price: The price is reasonable, compared to the high standards this product has.
Like the rest, it is DEET free
Weight: Its weight is probably the second thing worthy of mention here, as it weighs only 6.4 ounces. It is ideal for outings and safaris.
Pros
  • Great price
  • Lightweight
  • Long-lasting
  • Works on many insects
Cons
  • Not long-lasting
  • Strong scent
  • Not for small children

Criteria for Evaluation

 

Here are the criteria to follow as you search for a repellent:

Ingredients Matter

Mosquito repellent comes in so many varieties that you have to be cautious about the one you buy. They can be in the form of lotions, oils, foams, wipes or incense sticks. Examples of repellents are permethrin, citronella oil and picaridin. It is best to get the type that is fast and effective. Experts recommend the use of repellents with active ingredients such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, and diethyltoluamide or DEET in short. Don’t be too quick to put all your trust in commercials and their endless songs of praise for various products. Take it upon yourself to prioritize your well-being and that of your loved ones.

Read Instructions

Many people have the habit of using products without taking the time to study the information on the product. This is dangerous since it may have negative effects on you. You can learn how to use a mosquito repellent if you read the instructions. In addition to this, you’ll learn if it’s ideal for you and your loved ones. For example, products with DEET should not be used on young children below two months of age since their skin is still sensitive. Any false move could hurt them. Reading instructions helps to let you know if the product repels mosquitoes or not. You can know about the ingredients in the product and how much of them is contained in it to know if it’s safe for you or not. Mosquito repellents are supposed to help you, not harm you.

Test The Product

It is possible that the products may contain ingredients that are higher in composition than what your skin can take. The best way to determine this is by using it once. If it burns your skin, don’t assume that it’s working. Your skin is communicating with you. It’s saying that it’s uncomfortable. Marks and swellings on the skin are also an indicator that the product is doing more harm than good on you. The best way to test a lotion is spreading it on your hands first before applying it to the rest of your body. If it’s friendly to them then it’s alright for use. Also, if you’re still bitten even after applying the repellent, this means that it isn’t serving its purpose. Don’t waste your precious money on buying it.

How long the product stays active?

Different repellents have different durations of activity. Those that are made from plant ingredients, such as vanilla and citronella, have the shortest time. If you’re a heavy sleeper or you love spending time outdoors at night then these products aren’t the best for you. They last for approximately 20 minutes, meaning that you’ll use more of it within a short duration of time. Choose a product that offers over one hour of protection within the first application. Those with DEET offer up to 90 minutes of protection. The repellent you choose should suit the kind of lifestyle you live and how active you are at night. The one you use when you’re sleeping outdoors won’t be effective if you engage in sweaty activities such as jogging.

Don’t buy combined repellents

This means that you should avoid repellents that are mixed with other substances such as sunscreen. This is because their effectiveness is reduced and come to think of it, why would you need sunscreen at night? It is valid only when the sun is up. If you want to buy these products when they’re separate it’s alright. Sunscreen needs to be applied after every 2 or more hours, which means that if you apply a combined repellent it will wear off first and leave your skin vulnerable to the effects of the sunscreen. It may seem like a good idea to get a combined product since it’ll reduce the effort of applying both sunscreen and repellent at different times of the day but think of the consequences before buying them.

How and when it should be applied

A mosquito repellent should be applied in the right way based on what kind it is and the person using it. This means just the right amount should be used, they shouldn’t be used on cuts and wounds, adults should apply them on children, you should wash skin with soap and water before applying it once more, don’t use them near food and don’t use it on undergarments. If the repellent should be applied on clothes alone, use it in that manner only. These are just some of the directions given on repellents that you should look out for.

Who should use it

Different mosquito repellents are designed for a specific group of people only. If you’re pregnant, think carefully about the fetus inside. Some repellents can affect them and the mother as well. People with skin conditions and cancers can also be greatly affected if the wrong kind of repellent is used on them. If it gives you allergies or affects your health, consider another alternative. Old people and children have very sensitive senses of smell and their health is fragile. If the repellent has a strong smell, don’t buy it if you intend to use it on them. They will only be sharing in the pain of the mosquitoes. The good news is there is a mosquito repellent for everybody.

FAQs

Q: Which is the most recommended repellent?

A: The one that offers fast protection from mosquitoes within a short period of time. There are a variety of repellents but each has their own level of performance. When you’re buying a repellent, look at the ingredients in it and consider the time of the night you’ll use it. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn during the summer months. Also, it should be friendly to your skin. You’ll realize that though mosquito repellents vary from one individual to another, the uniting factor is their ability to protect from mosquitoes.

Q: If I’m frequently attacked by mosquitoes, should I use a strong repellent?

A: No. Using a strong repellent may harm you in one way or another. The best way to repel mosquitoes is using repellent frequently or going for repellents that can protect for long periods of time, such as those with DEET. It’s important to note that the level of ingredients that repel mosquitoes doesn’t matter. Those with a high percentage of DEET offer similar results to those with a lower concentration. Highly concentrated repellents only last longer on the skin before being applied once again.

Q: Which are the best repellents to use on babies and young children?

A: There are several types that have been shown to be safe to young ones such as Endurance Cream that can be used on children who are 2 years and above, Mosi-Guard repellent that can be used on children who are 6 months and above and Expedition Sensitive repellent that’s best for children above 2 years. Always remember to read the instructions on the label and follow them to the letter if you want them to protect your lovely ones.

Q: Is there any difference between a mosquito repellent and insect repellent?

A: Not exactly. The only difference is the term ‘insect repellent’ is a more general term, meaning that the product not only repels mosquitoes but insects in general. Mosquito repellents deal with mosquitoes only. Insect repellents can be used even during the day and on clothing, but mosquito repellents are only to be used at night when mosquitoes are most active. But this can vary depending on your country. Some countries have a larger number of mosquitoes than others.

Q: Can mosquito repellents be used at other times of the year apart from summer?

A: Yes, they can. People mostly use them during summer time because this is when mosquitoes are in large numbers. The hot weather at this time is conducive for them. Summer nights are also hot and can attract many mosquitoes. It isn’t a rule that mosquito repellents are only for the summer. Feel free to use it even during autumn, spring or winter.

Q: Why is mosquito repellent important?

A: Well, for one, they drive mosquitoes away from you. But this isn’t the only advantage. Mosquito repellents protect you from bites that have been shown to cut the skin, therefore allowing bacteria from outside to get into the body. Mosquitoes spread a variety of sicknesses such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, chikungunya virus, and dengue. These, along with the uncomfortable feeling of being bitten and the scratching that results, should be reason enough to get a repellent as soon as possible. Even if you’ve never been bitten, don’t take chances. There’s a first time for everything.

Q: Are repellents containing DEET safe to use?

A: This largely depends on how they are used. DEET, which is diethyltoluamide in full, can be harmful to the skin. While this is true, it’s also the most effective ingredient in repellents. Don’t use these products more than once in a day. It is also advisable only to use them as a second option after a repellent with another ingredient. All in all, it deals very well with mosquitoes, so you should put your state of health first and the risks it brings second.

Q: Is it safe to use mosquito repellents that have expired?

A: Mosquito repellents do not expire. However, their appearance, smell and feel change when they have been in use for more than a year. Their effectiveness reduces with time. If they’re still repelling mosquitoes no matter how long you’ve been using them, then you should continue using them until they finish. Make sure that they are stored under the right temperatures and they’ll be of use to you for as long as they’re available.

Q: Should a pregnant woman use mosquito repellent?

A: Yes, she should, as long as it has DEET and it’s used according to the instructions given. Pregnant women should use them for their safety and the welfare of the fetus. With the many sicknesses that mosquitoes transmit and the health risks they give, expectant mothers should make it a point to, first of all, consult a specialist to confirm if the repellent will have any effect on them, then go for the type that suits them. Avoiding the right repellents, especially if you’re a pregnant woman who likes spending time outdoors, is a very risky move.

Q: In what forms do mosquito repellents come in?

A: Mosquito repellents have been made in different ways to suit different people. They come in the form of incense sticks that are lit and produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes, aerosols, oils, sprays, lotions, liquids, and creams. Each variety is similar in effectiveness. When buying a repellent, go for the one that you can use with ease. For example, if you love sprays, you can use the repellent that is in the form of a spray. Make sure to wash your skin before and after using them and use them according to the instructions given. Each has a unique instruction. Never use repellent with sunscreen because the sunscreen will reduce their effectiveness.

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