Our ratings identify which products work best against mosquitoes and ticks. (We no longer test our products against ticks, but past test results and our research indicate that any product that protects you from mosquito bites is also likely to protect you from tick bites.)
Choosing the right repellent matters: Our top products provided several hours of protection, and some of our lowest-scoring ones failed in as little as 30 minutes.
Top 10 Mosquito Repellent
- Advanced electronic insect control; non clogging killing grid; 1/2-acre killing radius, requires plug.
- Recommended not to be used within 25-feet of area intended for human activity, should not be attached to house...
- Long-lasting repellent effective against Yellow Fever Mosquito, which can transmit the Zika Virus;...
- Reviewed by Consumer Reports as the Fisherman's Formula in its list of safe and effective insect repellents...
- MADE WITH OIL OF LEMON EUCALYPTUS: This DEET-free insect repellent provides you with protection during...
- REPELS MOSQUITOES FOR UP TO 6 HOURS: This repellent keeps you and your family protected for hours, so the fun...
- 15-Foot Area of Protection - Perfect for entertaining on lawn, porch, patio, pool or deck; proven technology...
- No Chemical Sprays, Wipes, DEET or Lotions on Skin - Patio Shield is more effective and repels mosquitoes...
- Not approved for sale thus cannot ship to CT, NM, or SD. Required to cancel ALL orders to CT, NM, or SD.
- ONCE MOSQUITO SEASON HAS STARTED, you need at least TWO BOXES PER ACRE in order to catch up and be effective...
- FORMULATED WITH 40% DEET: Sportsmen Max Formula repellents contain a higher DEET concentration to provide you...
- LASTING PROTECTION: Long-lasting protection ensures that you have the toughest repellent for any adventure....
- NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Our Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks are made with Citronella, Lemongrass and Rosemary...
- DEET FREE - Our Repellent Incense sticks are completely DEET FREE.
- DETER MOSQUITOES WITH ICOOKER'S HANDS-ON INNOVATIVE BRACELETS - are mosquitoes giving you a hard time in your...
- SAFELY AND EFFORTLESSLY RESOLVE THE MOSQUITO MENACE - are you looking for a safe and efficient solution to get...
- Repels and kills mosquitoes and other annoying insects
- Controls up to 4 weeks, even after rain
- Environmentally Sound Biological Mosquito Control
- Sprinkle Mosquito Bits to quickly annihilate the larval population; Corn cob granules coated in Bti, the Bits...
How We Test
We begin our insect repellent tests by applying a standard dose of repellent to a measured area of skin on our test subjects’ arms. (The standard dose is determined from the EPA product testing guidelines.)
After 30 minutes, these brave volunteers then place their arms into the first of two cages of 200 disease-free mosquitoes for five minutes. Our testers watch closely to see what happens inside the cage, and they count up every time a mosquito lands on a subject’s arm, uses its proboscis (its long mouth) to probe the skin in an attempt to find a capillary, or bites the subject’s arm and begins to feed—which the testers can tell by watching for the insect’s abdomen to turn from gray to red or brown.
You may not think to read the label before buying an insect repellent. That’s a mistake because of the active ingredient and concentration matter to both effectiveness and safety.
The top-performing products in our tests contained one of these three active ingredients: DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin. And all are safe, even for pregnant women, when used as directed.
The Buzz: Things to Think About
Be Wary of ‘Natural’ Repellents
Several makers of “natural” insect repellents (which typically contain essential plant oils such as cedar, citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary) claim that their products can help ward off mosquitoes, including those that carry the Zika virus. But our tests show that these active ingredients aren’t very effective.
Don’t Buy Based Only on Ingredient or Concentration
Some of our top-rated products contain picaridin, but so do some of our lower-rated ones. Concentration and form probably explain some of that difference: High-scoring products are sprays that contain 20 percent picaridin, and the low-scoring ones contain less picaridin or come in a lotion or wipe form. Our tests have shown that products with diet, in concentrations of 25 to 30 percent, are more likely to provide reliable protection.
Don’t Use Combination Sunscreen-Insect Repellent Products
We’re not fans of these combo products—sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, which could overexpose the user to the chemicals in repellents.
The Right Way to Apply Repellents
Proper application and use are essential, both for maximum protection and to avoid possible side effects, including skin or eye irritation. That means:
• Apply repellent only to exposed skin or clothing (as directed on the product label). Never put it on under clothing.
• Use just enough to cover and only for as long as needed; heavier doses don’t work better and can increase risks.
• Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth, and using sparingly around ears.
• Don’t let young children apply. Instead, put it on your own hands, then rub it on. Limit use on children’s hands because they often put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
• Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating or drinking.
• At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.
• If you’re planning to use repellents on your clothes, note that most of the ones we tested damaged leather and vinyl, and some of them stained synthetic fabrics.
What is DEET? Is it dangerous?
The DEET is a synthetic chemical originally developed as a pesticide, again developed as an insect repellant topic for the United States Army, and then sold as a consumer product. It has existed since the 1940s. One of its main attractions is that it is well researched: it has more than 70 years of studies to support its effectiveness, which is a definite advantage if you are traveling through an area with a high rate of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
How long does a mosquito repellent last?
The active ingredient in the mosquito repellent will not expire, but the inactive ingredients, like the components of the fragrance, will do so. Shainhouse told us that you can expect your mosquito repellent to last about three years, and explains how to know if it is wrong: ” If you spray it in the air and it smells bad, throw it away “. If you have a cream or gel formulation, and it has changed color or separated (yellow, brown, oily, watery) or the texture is off, discard it. If the bottle is rusted, throw it away “.