Choosing the Best Mosquito Repellent

What to expect from the best mosquito repellent. What is better a DEET or an organic mosquito spray? What are the Best Insect Repellents? Here you'll find the 14 best mosquito repellent products.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has evaluated information published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from EPA to identify products that are safe and provide repellent activity. Products containing the following active ingredients provide long-lasting protection: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), PMD, IR3535 and Permethrin. 

Mosquito repellents can be classified in 3 categories:

  1. Personal repellents (sprays, creams, lotions, repellent wristbands and clothing)
  2. Group repellents (sticks and candles)
  3. For covering large areas there are concentrated chemical/natural fogging liquid repellent for backyard; pellets and mosquito dunks for ponds.

Table of Content:

The Best Mosquito Repellent Sprays & Lotions

Modern mosquito repellents are quite cheap and therefore are most in demand when it comes to combating mosquitoes: their average cost varies from $5 to $25. They are a simple and convenient way of getting rid of these blood-sucking insects. 

What repellents are most popular among the buyers? According to Amazon sales statistics, an organic mosquito spray is the sales leader, while a more powerful product containing DEET and popular with the fishermen and hunters is a runner-up.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent, 4-Ounce Pump Spray

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent,

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent is one of the best selling mosquito sprays in the Pest Repellents category on Amazon.com is (its price is $8.97, and its rating is 4 stars out of 5). This is as inexpensive spray containing only natural components, lemon and eucalyptus oil, for instance. The spray’s action lasts for 6 hours; it cools your skin, smells nice and deters mosquitoes.

Consumers praise durability of the repelling substance: “It's interesting to note that the front of the bottle claims it repels mosquitoes up to 6 hours, but the CR tests indicated it was still going strong after 8 hours which is equivalent to greater than 15% DEET”. The only drawback is that it can cause allergies and, in particular, severe skin itches.

Price: ~$8.97

Repel 100 Insect Repellent

Repel 100 Insect Repellent

A powerful repellent Repel 100 Insect Repellent, 4 oz. Pump Spray (with the 4.5 stars rating out of 5) is a market follower. This product repels mosquitoes, flies and harvest bugs for 10 hours after application. However, it contains 98.11% of DEET, not the most environmentally friendly substance. No rival product has a higher concentration of DEET. Although it is not entirely safe for use, it is not prohibited in the US. In addition, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, DEET products don’t cause any harm to health if used in accordance with the manual.

The manufacturers claim that Repel 100 is a perfect choice for camping or any other extreme conditions. Customer feedback is left mostly by hunting, safari and extreme fishing fans. The only drawbacks identified by them were the grease which gets stuck on the hands after usage and the strong odor. The effectiveness of this product was confirmed by 82% users.

You should know, DEET has undergone stringent testing and has a good safety profile. DEET has been used since 1946. Its toxicology has been more closely scrutinized than any other repellent, and it has been deemed safe for human use, including use on children, pregnant women, and lactating women.

Price: ~$8.97

The same manufacturer launched another DEET-based repellent, though its percentage is considerably lower and thus more safe – it is only 40%. We’re talking about Repel 94101 Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET Pump Spray for ~$8.72.

Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin

Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin

Sawyer Repellent is an actual repellent because it contains Picaridin (the percentage is 20% here), which is used worldwide since 1998 and is one of the best sold active ingredients of insect repellents in Europe.

The manufacturers claim that the product will provide up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitoes and harvest bugs and up to 8 hours of protection against moths and sand flies. You can pick the convenient volume of the repellent as it is sold in 3 to 5 oz packs.  

Price: from ~$8.07

Bite Blocker Organic Insect Repellent Spray

natural mosquito repellentIt costs ~$7.50. Bite Blocker Spray does not contain active synthetic components, only the natural ones, such as the oils of soybean, castor and geranium. This oil mixture along with the other inert ingredients ensures 7.2 hours of protection against mosquitoes, carrying the dengue fever, according to the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, FL studies. Another scientific work claims that “A soybean-oil-based repellent protected against mosquito bites for an average of 94.6 minutes”, which can be compared with the use of low-concentration DEET- repellent.

Price: ~$7.50

Avon SKIN SO SOFT BUG GUARD Plus PICARIDIN Aerosol Spray

Avon PICARIDIN Aerosol Spray

This product is the least severe of all the artificial products in our rating, as Picaridin concentration in its makeup is only 10%. Amazon.com rating of this spray is 4.3 stars out of 5, and its price is only ~$14.95. The users praise its light odor, effectiveness and being gentle on the skin. Some, though, claim that the spray was completely useless for them. To each their own, I guess.

Price: ~$14.95

Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535

Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535

Among cream and lotion repellents another Avon product is a true bestseller. Such cosmetic repellents not only protect you from multiple types of insect, but also moisturize your skin. The mosquitoes, meanwhile, are repelled by the chemical IR3535. What can this Avon product do? It has a high rating of 4.5 stars for a price of ~$21.95. This is a regular “anti-insects” cream, the type which was sold 10, 20 and even 30 years ago. You pay for a small 4 oz pack, an SPF 30 sunscreen, moisturizing aloe extract and vitamin E. Avon claims that Avon Bug Guard Plus IR3535 is the best choice for having a quality family time outdoors without extreme trips to jungle full of mosquitoes. Probably the target audience rates the product as the best. 85% of the customers have given it positive feedback.

Price: ~$21.95

What is the difference in the action of a natural mosquito repellent and DEET?

Natural repellents act differently that DEET-based synthetics do. So, the above mentioned scientists Sarah and Marta prove that repellent plants, such as peppermint, can repel the insects, but they won’t suppress the mosquitoes’ reaction to human smell. The synthetic DEET-based repellents inhibit this reaction and it becomes harder for the mosquitoes to identify human smell.

Moreover, such artificial chemical products are tested more meticulously than their organic counterparts due to the fact that everything synthetic is considered to be far less healthy. In reality, they are rather safe for people. The organic products are often disregarded and become the Trojan horse, especially if you’ve risked using pure essential oils.

We can therefore see that the use of synthetic repellents is more supported by the scientists and thus it increasingly replaces the use of their natural counterparts from the battle against the mosquitoes. Add the fact that DEET is way cheaper to that and the conclusion will be obvious. It is not in vain that every 4th USA resident (which adds up to 78 million people annually), every 4th UK resident and 200 million more people across the world trust the synthetic repellent.

Do Vitamin B1 and Brewer's Yeast Repel Mosquitoes?

There are lots of myths regarding natural mosquito repellents online. One such misconception is that apparently, Vitamin B1 (thiamine chloride) and brewer's yeast repel mosquitoes if taken orally. The manufacturers claim that a single pill will give you 24-hour protection! Tempting, isn’t it?

We’ll have to disappoint you, though, as the North Carolina State University scientists don’t trust the effectiveness of these “magical pills” and state that the results of several scientific studies do not support the claims that these materials are effective repellents for mosquitoes or other biting insects, mites or ticks.

Mosquito Repellent Bracelet & T-shirt

Looks like wearable gadget trend is flourishing not only in the fitness gadget industry, as several repellent wristbands are found on Amazon.com.

Invisaband 5 Pack All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Invisaband 5 Pack All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

This is the most popular repellent bracelet online (its Amazon rating is 4 stars). For $23.99 you get an opportunity to repel insects without having to rub the cream on your skin or to spray all over the place. All you have to do is wear a blue band, and mosquitoes won’t approach you. There are 5 bands in one set.

Surprisingly, Invisaband Bracelet is made of organic components, and it drives the insects off with the smell of geranium. The band itself can be adjusted for any wrist size, which means that even kids can wear it. A single set lasts for 120 hours. You can go hiking, play soccer or take up any other sport while wearing it. You can also wear it as an anklet.

When it comes to Amazon customer feedback, it is very inconsistent. 20% of customers complain of the device’s utter uselessness, while the majority notes its effectiveness. Why so? Perhaps, some of the users receive a stale package.

Price: ~$23.99

Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, iCooker®

Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, iCooker®

This sales leader works similarly to other products as the mosquitoes are deterred by a mixture of essential oils. Although the manufacturer doesn’t give a list of the oils in question, the users suppose that they are citronella, geranium, peppermint and lavender oils. Unlike the previous band, iCooker bracelet doesn’t have an expiry date as you can use special repellent refills (2 are supplied with the bracelet, and additional ones cost $4.99). Each refill can last up to two weeks, which means that the original package of a bracelet and two refills for $5.49 will serve you for an entire month.

Judging by its high Amazon rating of 4.5 stars out of 5, this device has gained approval from the customers as only 10% of over 200 users are not entirely satisfied with this repellent wristband. Some customers tried to save their dogs from mosquitoes with this band, which worked well. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend you to use mosquito repellent for dogs for this purpose.

Price: ~$5.49

Zorrel - Insect Shield Apparel Long Sleeve Tee Shirt

Zorrel - Insect Shield Apparel Long Sleeve Tee Shirt

A Zorrel Tee Shirt (for a price of $27.95 - $31.35 and rated 4.5 stars out of 5) is an interesting item. Its manufacturers claim that it would drive away many types of insects. It is made of cotton and microfiber and it is resistant to moisture and heat. Permethrin, a synthetic analogue of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemums, is added to the fabric. Earlier permethrin was used in anti-lice shampooing and dog collars. Permethrin in this t-shirt’s fabric doesn’t wash away after 70 washes at most. According to the customer reviews, it truly works. The only condition of that is that you can’t bleach the shirt or wash it in the machine. Funny, but the something along the lines of “it wasn’t really useful against mosquitoes, but it looks nice” was something we came across occasionally, although 86% of customers consider this product to be useful.

Price: $27.95 - $31.35

Permethrin is a highly effective insecticide-acaricide and repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and other biting and nuisance arthropods. The U.S. Army has used permethrin for more than 20 years to treat uniforms. You can buy Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent (from ~$10.75) and spray it to your clothing. The effect lasts for up to 6 weeks or 6 washings.

permethrin based mosquito repellent

Natural Outdoor Mosquito Repellents

Citronella candles are a rather popular mosquito repellent when you’re having a barbecue or a picnic outside. Let’s discover its advantages and disadvantages in the example of Cutter HG-95784 CitroGuard 20-Ounce Insect Repellent Triple Wick Candle.

Cutter HG-95784 CitroGuard 20-Ounce Insect Repellent Triple Wick Candle

Cutter HG-95784 costs $7.47. Each candle can burn up to 40 hours and consists of real citronella oil. That is, we’ve got a natural repellent here. The area of coverage of this “aroma fog” can protect a whole family or even a group of campers. It won’t protect those who move along the shore or across the forest from insects, though. However, once they want to sleep or have a rest, they can very well use these candles as a natural mosquito control.  

Price: ~$7.47

There are of course popular and well-known All-natural Premium Citronella Outdoor Garden Incense Sticks for $17 with the pleasant andiroba, citronella, rosemary & thyme smell, which can be used both for outdoor eating and romantic evenings. They’ve got a high rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 and they received over 400 customer reviews on Amazon.com – you can read them here.

mosquito repellent sticks

The customers love it that these citronella sticks are completely safe. This is a great alternative for those who love reading on the patio at home on quite summer evenings. You can simply stick this product in a sand pot, light it and keep it around your patio.

Price: ~$17 (for the set of 12 sticks)

What is the best natural mosquito repellent? Read Getting rid of mosquitoes naturally: How do plants can help you

The Best Mosquito Repellents for Your Backyard, Patio, Lawn & Garden

Let’s now focus on the situation when you have a large territory near your house and there are so many mosquitoes that you can’t leave your house without using a whole bunch of products simultaneously. This is especially true if you live in the area of damp climate, for example in Florida or somewhere near water. Concentrate chemical mosquito yard spray, natural liquid repellents and special granules are the solution to your problem.  

Cutter Backyard Bug Control 32 oz Ready-to-Spray Hose End Insect Repellent Concentrate HG-61067

Cutter Backyard Bug Control

For eight bucks you get a vial of a deadly mixture of 0.16% LAMBDA-CYHALOTHRIN which will repel and kill the insects within 5 000 sq. m. Lambda-cyhalothrin is an insecticide, belongs to a group of chemicals called pyrethroids (manmade chemicals that are similar to the natural insecticides pyrethrins).

It is supposed to be used outdoors as even the rain can’t wash away this solution which will stay put in your backyard for up to 4 weeks. We’ll warn you that this option won’t do for a small cottage or a private house backyard. Cutter Backyard Bug Control is obviously to be used in large yards in regions  infested with mosquitoes.

The main perk of this product is its versatility. It can exterminate underground, lawn insects as well as those which inhabit tree branches, such as mole crickets, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, crickets and harvest bugs. This spray’s rating is 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon. It is praised for its effectiveness and is accused of causing harm to helpful insects, such as bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Price: ~$8.35

Mosquito Barrier 2001 Liquid Spray Repellent

Mosquito Barrier 2001 Liquid Spray RepellentThis is an all natural liquid product. Mosquito Barrier 2001 is a 1 quart concentrated product. The active repellent is garlic. Its effect lasts for 3-4 weeks. According to the manual, you have to dilute the product in water in order to get the solution. Many users use such proportions as 4 oz/1 gal of water or 8 oz/1 gal of water and 2 oz of canola oil. For spraying, you’ll need a special garden sprayer, such as Chapin 20000 1-Gallon Lawn and Garden Sprayer for $14.50.

Another detail (which we have already mentioned in our best propane mosquito fogger review) is that this product is used by some customers as a fogging liquid for propane foggers. One of the consumers has even mentioned that she bought a fogger, Mosquito Barrier Spray and a bottle of Black Flag for the fogger, and as an experiment decided to first use the organic Mosquito Barrier (she diluted 2-3 oz/40 oz. water bottle on the fogger). As a result, the number of mosquitoes has diminished completely, although more frequent spraying is required. Black Flag bottle is still left unopened.

Price: ~$18.70

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

Now that you know how to protect yourself, let’s focus on our pets, in particular on our dogs. They suffer from the mosquito attacks as much as you do, and so the helpless pets need to be saved! Who will be their savior if not you?

First of all, you need to decide which treatment you’re going to use: synthetic one or natural one only? We’ll present both options you, we’ll cover the permethrin-based drops and a natural spray. As for the collars, don’t count on them as they are not designed for repelling mosquitoes and are only useful for driving away fleas, ticks and lice.

dog mosquito repellent

Never use human repellent sprays on dogs! The DEET manufacturers state that it cannot be used on cats and dogs as DEET is very toxic and can be dangerous if consumed. The pets, on the other hand, love licking their fur and paws. That’s why the vets recommend using drops and dripping them exclusively on withers so that your pet won’t be able to lick the repellent off.

As we’ve mentioned above, permethrin is one of the most effective synthetic chemicals against mosquitoes. The National Center for Biotechnology Information scientists have proven that during the course of an experiment involving dogs and hundreds of mosquitoes, “Treatment of dogs with 65% permethrin reduced the mosquito landing rates by 96.3% 6 hours after treatment and by 82.5% on Day 1”. However, we don’t live in a lab and we are only interested in the real life repelling effect. As you can see, you can count on permethrin, so we’ll use it.

Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Control Treatment for Dogs, contains 44% of Permethrin

best mosquito repellent for dogsThis product costs from ~$24.99, and is one of the best sellers in the Drops category on Amazon.com. Unlike its rivals, it can repel not only fleas and ticks, but also mosquitoes, as it contains permtethrin. The price depends on a dog’s weight and on the number of vials with insecticide in a set. The users give rather positive feedback to this product and not that it not only repels ticks and fleas, but is also truly effective against mosquitoes: “I have a 15 lb dog and she kept getting mosquito bites on her underbelly. Since we started using this product we haven't had this problem”. Read over 3100 customers’ reviews on Amazon.com

The drops are water resistant and are to be applied once a month only which is very convenient. But first make sure you test the product on a small area of your dog’s skin. If no allergy is revealed (the allergy is possible in case your pet’s skin is sensitive), then you can go on to use it.

NB: Both the manufacturer and we would like to remind you that permethrin is dangerous for cats and they cannot therefore be treated with it, as lethality is possible! Use it for dogs only!

Price:  from ~$24.99 Check the current price

If you are against using synthetic chemicals on your dog or if its skin is too sensitive, use natural repellent spray. Just like drops, there products will repel various blood-sucking insects including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

Vet's Best - Flea & Tick Home Spray

Vet's Best repellent spray

We’ve mentioned it as a best flea spay for dogs: Vet's Flea & Tick Spray is considered to be #1 Best Seller in the Dog Flea Spray category. What is important is that apart from its main function (which is obvious from the name of the spray), the manufacturer also promises that the spray can also repel mosquitoes. The spray’s price starts at ~$3.63 and it is made of peppermint oil and clove extracts which are well-known as powerful natural repellents. According to the customers, Vet's Best Spray is easy to apply and repels the mosquitoes. Some say that it can even kill them on contact, but we hardly believe that an herb-based spray can have a killing effect. It didn’t help some consumers treat the dogs from the mosquito bites at all, but we are sure that you understand that no perfect treatments exist.

Price: from ~$3.63 Check the current price

Also read: How to get rid of fleas in house

When is it better to use ready-to-use natural mosquito repellents?

As you have probably understood, 100% organic does not always mean 100% safe, that is why you need to be extremely cautious when using them. There are special cases, though, when it is necessary to use the natural repellent:

  • If you have sensitive skin

In this case it is not necessary to stop using synthetic products completely, provided that you read the list of components and choose a mosquito repellent plants-based product (be it a lotion, a cream or a spray) containing either lemongrass or citronella. Mind that the main ingredient which is contained in a product is always the first one on the list!

  • If you’re treating the outdoor territory

Should the use of a mosquito fogger be undesirable, do use the repelling citronella sticks and candles. They are rather reasonably priced and will help your reduce the number of bites (but not get rid of them completely, as we have stated above).

  • If you aim to protect the sensitive child skin

how to protect baby from mosquito bites

Despite the fact that the DEET-based repellents can be used to protect children, we recommend buying special ready-to-use baby mosquito repellents for both babies and kids. It’s a good thing that a wide range of products is available, as the babies and toddlers can be protected with bracelets and stickers and older children can use mild sprays based on an essential oil blend.

Our key message is that you shouldn’t use 100% pure essential oils as repellents as it can be dangerous. Apply ready-to-use products!

Mosquito Repellents for Allergic People

If you are allergic, you have to be extra careful when choosing a mosquito repellent. Fortunately, there are many safe mosquito repelling products. We don’t know whether you are allergic to some chemical components of the repellents or to the plants that repel mosquitoes (lemon, eucalyptus, anise, cedar, clove, etc.), that’s why we’ll only draw your attention to those repellents which are 100% hypo allergic. There are only 3 types of them:

1. Indoor & Outdoor Zappers

2. UV Traps

3. Water Traps

You can read about all of the mosquito control products in our “Ultimate Guide on How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes”.

We have compiled a chart listing the active ingredients effective against mosquitoes and repellents containing them.

Active Ingredient

Product

Price

DEET

Repel 100 Insect Repellent Spray repels mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects up to 10 hours

~$8.97

Picaridin

 

Sawyer Repellent with 20% Picaridin – the spray provides up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitoes

from ~$8.07

Avon SKIN SO SOFT with 20% Picaridin – this a spray for soft family protection

 ~$14.95

Permethrin

 

 

Black Flag Fogging Insecticide is used for spraying large territories with a fogger

~$10.36

The permethrin-treated Zorrel - Insect Shield Tee Shirt

 from ~$27.95

Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent is a special spray for treating clothes

 from ~$10.75

Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Control Treatment for Dogs – use these drops as a mosquito repellent for dogs  from ~$24.99

IR3535

Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT IR3535 – this is a moisturizing mosquito repellent lotion with sun protection

~$21.95

Pyrethroids

Cutter Backyard Bug Control is an insecticide for protecting large territories, is to be attached to a hose.

~$8.35

Lemon Eucalyptus oil

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent Spray – repels mosquitoes up to 6 hours

~$8.97

Citronella oil

 

 

iCooker Mosquito Repellent Bracelet is a natural repellent band

~$5.49

Cutter Candles are repellent candles for natural protection against the mosquitoes

 from ~$7.47

Citronella Outdoor Sticks (set) – the smoke appearing after burning these sticks repels mosquitoes

 ~$17

Geraniol oil

Invisaband All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets – this is a safe mosquito repellent band which can be used even by the kids

~$23.99

Soybean, castor and geranium oils

Bite Blocker Organic Insect Repellent Spray – provides 7.2 hours of protection against mosquitoes, carrying the dengue fever  ~$7.05

Peppermint oil and eugenol (clove extract)

Vet's Best - Flea & Tick Home Spray is a natural repellent spray for dogs
 
from ~$3.63