In this article, we have listed the best mosquito repellents on the market to help you choose the most ideal mosquito repellent based on these main criteria – Application method, protection time, active ingredient, and budget.
Mosquito repellent comes in a few versions – Spray, Lotion, Wipes, Candles, Bracelets, Coil, Electrical Ultrasonic and there are also many natural plants with repellent essences. Some works better than others.
Here’s what we recommend when choosing the best mosquito repellent for use:
Picking the Best Mosquito Repellent
- Repellents with 15 to 30% deet, 20% picaridin, or 30% OLE work best.
- Avoid repellent products made with natural plant oils (i.e citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil) as they are not as effective if you are looking for a highly effective one.
- Opt for repellents that are registered with the EPA, as they have been tested for safety and effectiveness (look for its registration number “EPA Reg.” on the back of the label).
>> Related article: Best Mosquito Killers
|1||OFF! Deep Woods Mosquito Repellent||DEET|
|2||Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Repellent||Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus|
|3||Repel 94100 Sportsmen Repellent Wipes||DEET|
|4||Sawyer Products Premium Repellent||Picaridin|
|5||Sawyer Products Premium Clothing Repellent||Permethrin|
|6||Natrapel 8 Hour Repellent Pump||Picaridin|
|7||Ben’s 30% DEET Repellent Wipes||DEET|
>> A Quick Note About DEET
DEET might be synthetic but it’s really effective and has been used for decades. No other product has been tested for safety and effectiveness in repelling insects more than DEET. DEET is also the only type of repellent that the CDC recommends for tick protection.
The downside to DEET is that it can damage fabrics, surfaces and on materials like rubber, plastic, spandex, leather, vinyl and even paint.
Side-note: Insect repellents that use deet ranges from 4% to 100% concentration. Tests have shown that concentrations of 30% provides the same protection as repellents with higher concentrations. Higher concentrations of deet can actually lead to rashes, disorientation, and seizures.
>> A Quick Note About Picaridin
Picaridin is another synthetic repellent that works effectively at keeping mosquitoes at bay for extended periods of time.
A repellent with 20% picaridin can repel mosquitoes for up to 8 hours and does not damage your belongings the way DEET can.
Side-note: The CDC recommends sticking to DEET if you’re going to be in a tick-heavy area. Picaridin may also protect against ticks.
The OFF! Deep Woods Repellent is a powdery base repellent formulated with DEET as the leading active ingredient,
It contains 25% DEET which provides up to 8 hours of protection.
Aerosol spray allows for easy application in a continuous sweeping motion where the repellent dries instantly on skin and leaves an invisible finish.
The Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Repellent contains 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus (naturally derived) and 45% ethanol. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is one of only two non-DEET chemicals approved by the CDC.
It’s an effective DEET-free repellent that works effective with mosquito (Lemon Eucalyptus doesn’t really work as well repelling black flies, ticks, or chiggers). As such, it’s an awesome alternative for those uncomfortable or allergic with DEET.
Can give off quite a (persistent) smell that’s too strong for some to accept (despite having no fragrance ingredient), hence be sure to avoid applying this in small enclosed space like an elevator or a car.
>> For family version: REPEL HG-94136-1 Scented Family Formula
The Repel 94100 Repellent Wipe is designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts.
It contains 30% DEET and provides wipe-on protection that repels mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, gnats and fleas
It comes in a travel size pack that is flexible and makes on-the-go application easy. The new convenient flexible pouch reseals well without causing the wipe to lose any potency.
>> Consider treating clothing, backpacks, shoes and even entrance of tents with a permethrin-based spray when doing outdoor activities like hiking or camping.
[May: 1 pack of the wipe lasted the three of us 3 days in Costa Rica and pre-treated our clothes with Sawyer permethrin spray with about 1/3 of the Repel MAX spray.]
The Sawyer Products Premium Repellent features a 20% Picaridin mixture that is highly effective at deterring a wide array of insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies, biting flies, chiggers, gnats and fleas.
It can be used on skin as well clothing, outdoor gear, backpacks, fishing line, plastics, or other synthetic fabrics (something deet-based repellents can’t offer).
The long-lasting topical spray is effective for up to 12 hours against mosquitoes and ticks (14 hours for lotion). Both the spray and lotion also provide up to 8 hours against gnats, chiggers, sand flies and biting flies.
As the name suggests, the Sawyer Premium Permethrin Clothing Repellent is designed to treat ‘items’ like clothes and gears, in addition to the skin protection (above).
It features non-toxic active ingredient Permethrin, the synthetic version of pyrethrum (a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum).
It’s odorless after drying and does not stain or damage fabrics, clothing, plastics or outdoor gear. Each application can last up to six washings.
Sweating and exposure to water will not significantly deteriorate the Permethrin application. However, movement in the washing machine causes agitation that will deteriorates the application by knocking the molecules loose from the fabric (hence, re-apply after wash).
How to Apply
Sawyer recommends treating clothes and gear outdoors in a well ventilated area.
Apply spray lightly on the garment with a slow sweeping motion, keeping the distance of about 6 – 8″ away and applying spray to each side of the treatment garment for about half a min.
Do not add Sawyer Permethrin into the washing machine for treatment — it should be sprayed directly onto clothing and gear.
Single application lasts up to 40 days of sun exposure (or 6 washings).
* A complete outfit includes a top, a pants, and pair of socks (each garment needs 3 ounces of Permethrin to be effective).
The Natrapel® 8-hour uses a (CDC-recommended) 20% Picaridin formula. It provides 8+ hours of protection from mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects.
Like other products that uses picaridin formulations, it gives off a light and flowery scent which eventually goes away.
Unlike DEET-base repellents, it is safe to use on clothings, gears, jackets, fishing line, and other synthetic materials.
The Ben’s DEET mosquito repellent offers up to 8 hours of effective protection with their unique formula that is made to provide longer lasting repellent thanks to its slow evaporating formula that has minimal absorption by the skin.
Its wipes are individually wrapped and uses the minimum DEET concentration recommended by the CDC for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and biting insects.
[May: wipes are most ideal in terms of application on toddlers. Keep a few packets in the car or backpack when going to the playground.]
- Can Repellent be worn with Sunscreen?
Yes. Apply the sunscreen before applying the repellent (it is always a good practice to wait 5 – 10 mins before applying the repellent).
There are also repellents in the market with sunscreen protection formula (i.e. Sawyer Stay-Put Stay-Put Sunscreen Lotion).
- Lotion vs Spray Repellent – Which is better?
Lotions last considerably longer than sprays due to evaporation of the repellent. However, sprays have the advantage of being able to be applied to clothing (even on skin).
>> Related article: Best Mozzie Killer Spray
Things to Note:
- If you suspect product cause skin reactions (in rare cases), discontinue use and wash treated skin.
- Mosquitos can bite through clothes, hence be sure to apply repellent on clothes as well.
[May: I did some searching online and it seems like no study can conclusively prove why some people are attractive to mosquitoes more than others.]
Over to you…
Which type of repellent do you generally go for? Have you tried any of the listed mosquito repellent? Or have we missed out any awesome ones? Leave a comment and let us know!