Before venturing off on vacation, heading to the beach or hitting the trails on a hiking adventure of a lifetime, you should apply only the best mosquito repellents to your skin and clothes to protect you from biting mosquitoes and insects you are likely to encounter.
There are so many different repellents available in the USA with many of them being chemical based sprays containing DEET, permethrin, IR3535 or picaridin. But with advances in preservation technology and ultra-filtering processes, a growing selection of chemical-free all natural mosquito repellents are becoming increasingly popular. Especially those that are organic and natural combined, and offer comparable or superior performance to chemical based personal body sprays.
Whatever your outdoors, it’s smart to bring along a proven and effective repellent to protect you, and especially one that actually works well if you are leaning towards a more natural based protection. With that in mind, look at some of the higher rated organic blends covered below.. Most contain powerful natural essential oils with a strong and proven formulas that last a long time and keep mosquitoes away from exposed skin.
When applying a repellent, you want make sure to cover all exposed areas of your skin and clothing. As it stands, most sprays have ingredients that will not cause irritation or stain clothes, but it is definitely a good idea to test a small area first. Most natural repellents that are effective will contain a multitude of essential oils that will provide excellent protection and last for several hours before needing to be re-applied. So, testing a small area for oils sensitivity is a good idea. And don’t forget, keep your repellent stored out of direct sunlight or extreme heat to help the formula last and stay potent.
As mentioned earlier, there are many mosquito repellents with the same purpose on the market. So, to help you in your quest for finding the perfect protection against bites and stings, I’ll be introducing you to the top ten mosquito repellents on the market. You see, mosquitoes are no longer just annoying – they can cause way more harm than just an annoying bite. And with the Zika virus strain moving to many different countries, keeping yourself shielded from mosquito bites is now more important than ever.
With all this new-found knowledge, it’ll be easier for you to make the right decision as to what repellent to buy for maximum mosquito protection wherever you travel.
>> READ MORE: Top 5 Mosquito Repellents
Top 10 Best Mosquito Repellent Reviews for 2017
1. Bugmace All Natural Mosquito & Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
This organic plant based formula gives you repellent protection instantly. It is priced in line with other mosquito repellent sprays and smells very nice, which is a rarity when it comes to insect repellents. The formula consists of a blend of plant based oils proven to ward off most nuisance mosquitoes and insects and it goes on smooth and color free. The lemongrass and vanilla fragrance is strong at first, but does blend down as it forms a protective shield around you.
Comparing this to other repellents, this one has a very high level of active ingredients and is not mostly comprised of water like some others we found. Albeit, when searching for a natural mosquito repellent, one of the most important things you need to look for is potency and safety. Luckily, this product fills both requirements having a strong blend of plant based repellents and none of the harsh ingredients found in chemical based products such as DEET, Permethrin etc.
This repellent comes in several different convenient sizes including a 2, 4 and 8 oz. bottle. And, the smaller 2 and 4 oz. are great for travelers as you won’t run into problems at the airport with the smaller sizes.
Mosquito repellents for children are hard to find these days even though they are more important than ever. And unlike some of the eucalyptus and other chemical based products that are not to be used on children under 3 years of age, this product can be used on very small children as it is safe and not absorbed into the body like DEET. As a bonus, it doesn’t have the chemical or citronella smell and is safe for pets too. [Read full reviews]
2. Burt’S Bees All-Natural Herbal Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
If you want to avoid chemical formulated mosquito repellents but need to make sure you are going to be protected, this one is for you. It has a formidable blend of natural oils and provides solid protection for several hours without the odor associated with DEET and the like.
This formula is all natural and safe for children and pets too. And, Burt’S Bees is pH Balanced, contains no phthalates or parabens and is a biodegradable formula. The product sprays out in more of a ‘stream’ type pattern as opposed to a spray. It seems like this is most likely due to the fact that it’s entirely made of oils acting as active and inert ingredients. So, containing 100% oil, this spray tends to give off an oily feel but most users were ‘ok’ with that so long as the repellent gave them protection from bugs – which it does! [Read full reviews]
3. Cutter Natural* Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
This popular product comes in a sleek spray bottle offering serious mosquito protection. It controls mosquitoes and insects for several hours and has a rose scented fragrance. Ever flexible, you can use it while camping, hiking or on the beach where pesky sand fleas enjoy YOU as their afternoon lunch.
The main repellents listed on the label are Geraniol and Soybean Oil that discourage insects from entering your space. And since there are so many different essential oils used in natural lotions and most do provide various degrees of shielding against insects, the top ingredient in this lotion (Geraniol) assures you that you aren’t on the buffet.
The combination of repellents and sufficient water content allow for a smooth feel after application, which is nice. And, you will not experience the tacky-oily sensation that some other repellents exhibit. The solution goes on as a white spray mist and blends in well after rubbing into your skin.
Like others reviewed here, this too is a non-staining formula so there shouldn’t be too much concern getting the formula on your clothes. But, better safe than sorry – so, be sure to test a small amount before you risk spraying down your best ‘On the Town’ outfit.
As a global company, Cutter is well known for offering a full line of mosquito and insect repellents that are chemical based. And with several different repellents including various concentrations of DEET, Picaridin and lemon eucalyptus, it is nice to see that this company has decided to release a natural repellent for the growing majority of people trying to stay away from chemical based solutions.
Cutter Natural* Insect Repellent is a proven product that shields against mosquitoes. It works well, isn’t oily and does what it is intended to do. [Read full reviews]
4. OUT! Natural Care Mosquito Repellent
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
OUT! Natural Care Mosquito Repellent is another essential oil based product containing lemongrass oil and geraniol, shown to keep bugs and insects at bay. Containing 93% water, this spray does not feel very oily and doesn’t pose a problem with staining or tackiness since only about 7% of the active ingredients are present.
It is kind of neat that the spray bottle is capable of spraying upside-down and in a 360 degree motion so you won’t have to worry about getting just the right angle to have your spray come out. This formula is listed as safe for children 2 years of age or older, and for pets that are older than 12 months of age. You need to shake well before application and reapply as needed after every two hours. Comprised of natural plant extracts, it is DEET free and contains no other harsh chemicals or pesticides like picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Out! comes in a 12 oz. container that will last a good while and you will have enough to protect the entire family many times over. With 2 active ingredients, this product offers a solid repellent factor and the fact that it is all natural is a big plus. [Read full reviews]
5. EcoSMART Organic Personal Insect Repellent
Rating: 3.25 out of 5
Organic and natural, EcoSMART Organic Personal Insect Repellent also includes some pretty well known plant based mosquito and insect repellents and does a fine job keeping pesky insects at bay.
Steering clear of DEET, picaridin and Lemon Eucalyptus pesticides, EcoSMART botanical formulas only use natural ingredients that have strong repellency characteristics to ward off new bugs from entering your area. It is great to be able to protect your skin and the area around you with a solution that permeates around your ‘zone’.
Smart consumers have been searching for years for a practical solution that can do the job without the potential risk of adding odd sounding chemicals to their skin. Plant based repellents are all the rave lately, especially with mosquitoes now carrying more than just an annoying “Bite”.
This product is also safe around children and pets and will not contaminate groundwater. It contains blends of essential plant oils that work by blocking specific neural pathways called Octopamine receptors. These ‘sensors’ only exist in insects so, they have no problem smelling the formula – and staying away! [Read full reviews]
6. Repel 100 Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
The EPA registered Repel 100 Insect Repellent contains 98.11% DEET and contains the highest concentration on DEET we could find. The manufacturer claims that this product provides protection against mosquitoes for up to 10 full hours due to it’s ultra-high concentration of active DEET. For many, maximum chemical protection is a must especially in the ever-expanding ZIKA zones across the globe. With that being said, this product does not provide sweat protection. So, for those using it under such conditions, frequent re-application is a must.
Repel 100 Insect Repellent ward off all kinds of insects such as mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks and biting flies. And following suit with other repellent manufacturers, Repel comes in various sizes large enough to shield your entire family, and smaller sizes for travel.
Keep in mind, if you are not a big fan of DEET, you may want to pass on this one as it is extremely potent. But for the brave, this powerhouse is unmatched in DEET strength and keeps even the nastiest of biting insects at bay. [Read full reviews]
7. Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Sawyer’s Premium Insect Repellent with Picaridin holds a very solid reputation for keeping biting and annoying insects far away. With various convenient sizes of this product available, those on-the-go will find instant relief as well as those planning the vacation of a lifetime. This formidable EPA registered pesticide contains the active ingredient ‘Picaridin’ which competes heavily with other chemical based products such as DEET and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Different from DEET, this product has little to no odor other than the initial ‘bust’ of fragrance that accompanies practically all capable repellents.
Talk about long lasting too! This product is known to outlast DEET and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and can repel ticks and mosquitoes for up to 12 hours. And of course, other biting and flying insects are swatted away for about 8 hours. Picaridin goes on clear and once rubbed in, it is for the most part, unnoticeable. It has a clear, colorless texture and dries fast without any oily or tacky sensation.
This repellent is not harmful to gear or most other equipment so it’s multiple uses are a nice trait. And because it is safe for gear, many campers and hikers stock up on it before starting their journey. [Read full reviews]
8. OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
The original OFF! Deep Woods Repellent has been around for ages. Nearly everyone has tried this product at least once or twice during a mosquito attack and with a long history of refining their formula, this manufacturer knows how to chase away mosquitoes and insects. With 25% DEET listed as it’s active ingredient, OFF! provides hours of protection just when you need it most. As a fast acting repellent, this product guards against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and most other bothersome insects and is safe for your entire family when used as directed.
The EPA maintains stringent control over chemical based repellents and does not condone exaggerative claims and promises regarding product performance. That being said, this product was approved as an EPA registered pesticide and guards against attacks consistent with its labeling. OFF! is not overwhelming in the odor department and while it does have a chemical scent, it’s not overcoming and dulls down as it soaks into your skin.
Packaged in assorted sizes, this product makes for a great companion for your next African safari adventure, or one closer to home such as mowing the lawn. [Read full reviews]
9. Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Ready to fight back mosquito attacks and go easy on the DEET? Well, then Cutter Backwoods Unscented Insect Repellent might just be exactly what you are looking for. This 25% DEET formula stays on pretty well when sweating and in humid conditions. This product is formulated to be ‘unscented’, which means that the manufacturer has not added any fragrances to mask or enhance the smell of the formula. Even so, the odor is about the same as any other DEET based aerosol spray with this level of concentration.
Perfect for cookouts and camping trips, Cutter does a fine job keeping away mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks and most general flying and biting insects. The label states that this product protects for up to 10 full hours which is provided peace of mind for those planning on spending a lot of time outdoors. Keep in mind though, while the label may claim a specific protection time, it is always best to use your own observation when applying any insect repellent. While some people may experience the full protection time listed on the manufacturers label, others find that natural and chemical based repellents rarely live up to the label claims. So, personal experience should always overrule label claims as far as repellency duration is concerned.
We located 3 different sizes available ranging from the convenient ‘pen’ size which is great as a personal carry item, to the larger aerosol size spray can for larger areas or multiple person protection. [Read full reviews]
10. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent
Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent is one of the hottest selling mosquito repellents year over year. While it is labeled as an EPA registered Bio-Pesticide, it is considered by many to be an excellent alternative to DEET and Picaridin as it contains compounds extracted from eucalyptus trees. The primary repellent ingredient in this product is Lemon eucalyptus, a potent insect repellent extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.
The scent it produces is very strong and effectively keeps the mosquitos at bay. A single application lasts for hours and fends off a combination of insects that can cause life- threatening diseases like sand flies, ticks, flies, and midges and mosquitoes. While the repellent produces a strong smell to its users, the benefits outweighed the risks since it scares the mosquitos away and keeps then out of sight for a decent amount of time.
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent is made of 30% oil from lemon eucalyptus. The other ingredients are ethanol, a hydrocarbon propellant, and isoparaffin. The broad spectrum insect repellent is almost as effective as DEET based products and is less toxic on clothes and gear. The reason why the product is rated at an average of 4.0 is that the ethanol ingredients are irritating to the eye, and its use is restricted to children above the age of 3. [Read full reviews]
TYPES OF MOSQUITO REPELLENTS
If you know that you or family will soon be exposed to mosquitos in the foreseeable future, selecting the best mosquito repellent for your outing is very important. And, knowing which repellents are compatible with you and your families skin sensitivities helps narrow in on brands that are better for people with sensitive skin. Keep in mind that not all insect repellents are created equal. Not only do bug repellent sprays all offer various rates of control, but so do technological products such as mosquito bracelets, mosquito magnets, mosquito traps and even audible devices that claim to deter mosquitoes using sound.
ALL NATURAL MOSQUITO REPELLENTS
These natural based insect repellents use mainly ingredients that have been deemed safe by the FDA. They generally consist of essential oils which have been shown to keep mosquitoes away based on laboratory studies. And, in some studies, are far better performers than their chemical based counterparts. All natural repellents will have various levels of ingredients with some containing more distinctive repellents than others. So, take your time and review each label carefully to make sure that you are getting a strong combination of ingredients and at potent levels. Also check for those ingredients that might cause allergic reactions when applied to you or your family.
>> READ MORE: Top Rated Mosquito Repellent Reviews
Chemical Based or Bio-Pesticide Mosquito Repellents
Mosquito and insect repellents that contain chemicals such as DEET, picaridin and IR3535, or those that are considered bio-pesticides’ by the EPA, generally fall under the ‘Chemical based repellent’ category. These types of repellents undergo strict federal regulation as some of them can cause severe conditions on people if not applied properly. But overall, most chemical formulated repellents provide excellent protection and have been used for over 60 years, guarding the general public against potentially dangerous mosquito bites.
>> READ MORE: Chemical Based Mosquito Repellents
Mosquito Bracelets & Bands with Natural or Chemical Based Ingredients
Mosquito bracelets are a great idea; Infuse a wearable wristband with ingredients known to repel mosquitoes and presto! – no more mosquitoes right? Well, not exactly. They are fast, easy and relatively economical. Do they work? Well, this study says they don’t. But, with that in mind, any protection is better than ‘no protection’ as far as I am concerned. So, if you decide to try one out or take a few along on your next trip, check out all the reviews and rating before buying to help increase your odds of gaining some blockage against mosquitoes and flying insects. For myself, I do not use the wristband repellent devices since I tried a few and the results were less than miraculous. But, to each his own!
>> READ MORE: Chemical Based Mosquito Repellents
Ultrasonic Mosquito Repellents
As we all know, life is not all roses and cherries, and since this blog is a review portal focused on sharing my unbiased opinion on various mosquito and insect repellents, I feel that my honest assessment is critical to help you make the best decision when seeking protection from insects. That being said, while sonic based mosquito repellent ‘may’ provide protection in some situations, a study out of Arizona negated that idea completely. Sadly, the study showed that the tested sonic repellent device actually attracted mosquitoes to the target area. In essence, it offered no protection what-so-ever and actually made things worse. I personally never use this type of device, however, to remain un-biased, check out this link for the best sonic mosquito repellents available for those who remain ‘believers’.
It acutally compels one to think that the sonic Mosquito bracelets are a great idea; Infuse a wearable wristband with ingredients known to repel mosquitoes and presto! – no more mosquitoes right? Well, not exactly. They are fast, easy and relatively economical. Do they work? Well, this study says they don’t. But, with that in mind, any protection is better than ‘no protection’ as far as I am concerned. So, if you decide to try one out or take a few along on your next trip, check out all the reviews and rating before buying to help increase your odds of gaining some blockage against mosquitoes and flying insects. For myself, I do not use the wristband repellent devices since I tried a few and the results were less than miraculous. But, to each his own!
>> READ MORE: Chemical Based Mosquito Repellents
How to Properly Apply Insect and Mosquito Repellents
Like me, most of you probably buy a repellent and keep it set aside until it’s time to start warding off mosquitoes. At that point, most people simply take out their applicator and start ‘spraying away’. But, with so many different repellent products available, it is extremely important to read each individual label thoroughly. You see, some repellent can be sprayed literally anywhere on your body, yet others cannot come anywhere near your face, eyes or other sensitive areas. Now, in cooler weather, you will probably have less skin exposed as compared to laying out on the beach in your two piece. So, climate and mosquito density will play a big role in where you are applying your repellent, and how much.
So, let’s take a look at some of the more popular formulas and how is applied differently according to label instructions.
Applying All Natural Mosquito and Insect Repellents
One of the things I learned over the years about natural mosquito sprays is that there are TONS of them, and I mean Lots! For instance, Amazon alone lists at least 100 and I was able to locate about 50 more on Google just by doing a simple search. Luckily though, many contain similar ingredients with varied potencies.
Most all natural repellents are applied by a spray pump, covering your exposed body parts and even clothing being that essential oil based repellents are usually non-staining. Overall, the bulk of natural based sprays only warn to keep the product out of the eyes, which is common sense. Also, you will want to make sure kids don’t get the spray all over their hands, because what’s on their hands, always end up in their mouths. And the FDA states that you should wash your child’s hands when they come in from play, and for chemical based repellents, wash and clothes that have had repellent applied to them in soap and water.
One benefit of natural repellents is that they generally do not destroy camping gear or outdoor furniture. We have all heard the horror stories relating to the chemical based repellent ingredient DEET and how it melts plastic etc. The good news, natural repellent are generally 100% to apply to most travel and outdoor gear, and since they are emulsified already, any slight oily type stains usually come out easy with a little soap and water.
Applying Chemical and Bio-Pesticide Based Insect Repellents
These types of repellents include ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535, all of which are considered bio-pesticides by the CDC, better known as the Centers for Disease Control. For those of you who are not familiar with this agency, the CDC is the federal agency and is the United States leading leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services
Now that we have that explained, the general application precautions associated with chemical based products are more restrictive that their all natural counterpart repellents. With these types of repellents, the labels are a bit scarier as far as warnings go. So, be extra careful to read all labels thoroughly to make sure that you are applying the repellent properly. As example, OFF Deep Woods has application instructions along with warnings to be aware of during application. For instance, one section of this products label reads;
“Flammable liquid and vapour.”
That caution is there to obviously warn users that the product is flammable, meaning, you definitely don’t want to spray that repellent on or near any flame or source of heat.
Other bio-pesticides like Repel Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus include phrases like;
“WARNING. Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Harmful if swallowed. Do not get in eyes. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gum, or using tobacco. After returning from outdoors, wash product from all exposed skin.”
So, as observed, chemical based repellents definitely play by a different set of rules when it comes to applying your repellent. And as a great insurance salesman once said – ‘The details are in the fine print’.
When applying chemical based repellent to your body, keep the product away from your eyes and make sure that your selection is approved for use on children under 3 years of age since some are not. As noted by the University of Arizona, most chemical based repellents have a tendency to cause skin irritation. So be careful if you have sensitive skin or are prone to rashes. Also, be extra careful when using DEET near anything you consider valuable. The reason for this is that DEET has a bad tendency to melt certain objects such as plastics and fabrics. If in doubt, call the manufacturer of simply do not apply DEET to items.
Lastly, and most important! Be sure to wash bio-pesticide or chemical based repellents off of your body and any gear once your outing event ends. Most repellents that are chemical based warn not to leave their products on overnight so I, of course, recommend you follow those suggestions. This includes washing your body and any gear or clothing before reusing.
Other important tips for applying repellent include:
- Do not spray or apply any lotion indoors or in tight enclosed areas.
- Never apply Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus to children under the age of 3 years
- Do not apply your repellent directly to the face area. Instead, apply to your hands and then carefully rub onto your face.
- To apply to face, spray on hands first and then rub on face. Do not spray directly onto face.
- Be sure to apply to ALL exposed skin areas. If you miss a few spots, mosquitoes and insects are smart enough to find those areas and will begin biting once discovered. So, cover yourself well.
- Re-apply as necessary but never more often that what is suggested on the label.
- Do not confuse ‘personal’ repellent with ‘gear’ repellents. Repellents containing chemicals such as Permethrin can never be applied to your body. So be aware of what you are using and how it’s applied.
- If you are pregnant or nursing, take extra precautions and consult your physician prior to use.
In the end, your search for the best mosquito repellent really comes down to your personal preference and what products you feel will be best for you and your family. And remember, as long as you follow the label directions and apply your repellent properly, your bug spray of choice will offer long term protection against bites, and keep most flying insects away from your immediate area. Take your time and try out different repellents. Doing so will help you find the best repellent for your skin type and climate.
Since each repellent will have it’s own blend of ingredients, review each label thoroughly. It’s most important to assure that what you are spraying on your body, or your family, is safe and will provide a strong shield against mosquitoes and other nasty biting insects. Following these precautions and toss in a little common sense, and you will be good to go!