The 8 Best Mosquito Repellents to Cut Down on Pesky Bites
It's time to stop the itch! Check out the best mosquito repellent to help you focus on enjoying the great outdoors (and not on bug bites).
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Whether you’re camping, spending an evening with friends in the backyard, going for a walk or getting some fresh air, it’s important to protect yourself from mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viruses spread by mosquitoes are on the uptick. The West Nile virus is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the United States, and the best way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect yourself from bites. That means you need the best mosquito repellent.
From repellents ideal for deck and patio use, such as the Thermacell mosquito repellent, or smart devices to keep bugs away and even natural repellents, we found the best mosquito repellents for nearly every situation and activity.
Best Overall Mosquito Repellent
When it comes to finding the best of the best mosquito repellent, we give the Coleman SkinSmart high marks for a few reasons. First, this Deet-free repellent provides solid coverage against mosquitoes and ticks for up to eight hours. Plus, it’s not greasy like some other formulas, and is unscented and fast-drying. The six-ounce can is easy to use—just turn the knob and spray—and is small enough to stash in a hiking bag or picnic basket.
- Protects up to 8 hours
- Easy to use
- May need to apply a second coat in mosquito-heavy areas
Best Value Mosquito Repellent
Off! FamilyCare Smooth & Dry Mosquito Repellent
You don’t have to spend a fortune to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes. Off! FamilyCare Mosquito Repellent offers up to six hours of protection, and the value pack with two bottles won’t put a major dent in your wallet. Buyers like that it’s unscented and doesn’t feel wet or sticky. It does contain 15% Deet, so if you have young children, check with their pediatrician before using it.
- Includes two budget-friendly bottles
- Doesn’t feel wet or sticky
- Also protects against biting flies, ticks and more
- Has a slight odor
Best Lotion Mosquito Repellent
Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion
Lotions are a smart option if you don’t want to keep applying mosquito or insect repellents, as they often last longer than sprays. The Sawyer Insect Repellent Lotion protects against mosquitoes for up to 14 hours and is fragrance-free. Just rub some onto your skin, and the non-greasy formula dries quickly. Additionally, it’s safe for use on clothing and gear. It’s made with 20% picaridin, which is said to be more effective at repelling biting flies than Deet.
“I liked that the lotion was scentless and absorbed quickly, leaving no sticky residue,” writes five-star reviewer, Britbear.
- Non-greasy formula
- Lasts up to 14 hours
- Safe on clothing and gear
- Comes in an affordable two-pack
- 4-ounce size on the smaller side
Best Mosquito Repellent for Travel
Ben’s 30% Deet Wipes
Ben’s 30% Deet Wipes not only keep mosquitoes away, they’re mess-free and are ideal for traveling. These individually wrapped mosquito repellent wipes fit in your pocket or small tote, so you can break them out for unexpected time outdoors. The water-based, fragrance-free formula is made to evaporate slowly with little absorption into the skin. It offers eight hours of protection, so you’ll win the war against mosquitoes.
“These have become an absolute lifesaver and year-round go-to,” said Lynn, a verified buyer. “I have them stashed in every bag and pocket in case someone wants to sit on a park bench or hang out outside unplanned. They’re so easy to use, incredibly portable and have saved me the pain and annoyance of welts and scabs from scratching. They work better than anything else I’ve ever used, so I continue to stock up ensuring I’m never out without them!”
- Easy to apply
- Convenient travel size
- Eight hours of coverage
- Wipes are on the smaller side
Best Mosquito Repellent Device
Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller
You know the scenario: You’re looking forward to a fun evening with friends or family on the deck or patio, only to be eaten alive by mosquitoes. That’s where the Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller comes in. Just turn it on, and the unit creates a 15-foot zone of protection against mosquitoes without sprays or lotions. Plus, there are no cords or batteries to worry about—it’s powered by a safe and compact 12-hour fuel cartridge (one is included). It also comes with three four-hour mosquito-repellent mats. The active ingredient, d-allethrin, is based on naturally-occurring repellents found in plants. If you have a larger area to cover, you can use multiple units.
“After trying candles and other options, I found this amazing contraption. It doesn’t smell bad and it actually does a good job with repelling mosquitoes. I’ve been using mine for a couple of years, and It still works just fine,” said Jordan, a verified buyer.
- Creates a 15-foot protection zone
- Lasts for 12 hours
- Easy to use
- Portable size
- Doesn’t work well in high winds or when hiking/walking
Best Plant-Based Mosquito Repellent
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent
Sometimes mosquito repellents can feel sticky on the skin and have a pungent smell. That’s not the case with Repel’s Natural Mosquito Repellent. This option gets our pick for the best plant-based mosquito repellent as it provides up to six hours of protection and has a refreshing lemon eucalyptus scent. Plus, the Deet-free formula won’t leave that greasy feeling on your skin. The four-ounce bottle is easy to throw in your bag or keep in your car for when the pesky pests strike.
- Made with oil of lemon eucalyptus, a planted-based ingredient
- Doesn’t make skin feel greasy
- Deet-free formula to lower irritation risk
- Some people might not like the lemon eucalyptus scent
Best Mosquito Repellent for Clothing and Gear
Sawyer Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent
If you’re headed out to the woods on an overnight hiking or camping trip, you’ll want to keep mosquitoes and other nasty insects away from your gear, and that’s where Sawyer’s insect repellent comes in handy. Just spray this repellent on your clothing, sleeping gear and tent—don’t worry, the 24-ounce bottle is big enough to cover it all.
Not only will it keep mosquito bites at bay, but it also protects against other insects such as ticks, spiders and chiggers. The permethrin spray bonds to fabric fibers for up to six weeks or through six washings, and won’t stain or damage fabrics, plastics or outdoor gear. Plus, once it dries, it has no odor.
- Doesn’t damage fabrics
- Odorless once dry
- Lasts for up to six weeks
- Comes in a large 24-ounce bottle
- Shouldn’t be sprayed on skin
Best Mosquito Repellent for Babies
Babyganics Natural Deet-Free Insect Repellent
Don’t forget to protect the youngest members of the family from mosquitoes! Babyganics’ insect repellent is naturally Deet-free and made with plant and essential oils, including citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass and geranium. It’s not only safe for babies six months and older, but the whole family can use it too. Additionally, it’s free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and dyes.
- Safe for babies six months and older
- No harsh chemicals
- Naturally Deet-free
- Works on adults
- Not scent-free
What to Consider When Buying Mosquito Repellent
When looking for the best mosquito repellent for your needs, consider how you’ll use it. Sprays and lotions are practical if you’ll be moving about. However, some formulas have strong scents and can leave your skin feeling sticky or greasy. Wipes are handy if you’re on the go, and mosquito repellent devices are ideal for sitting outside, as they create a barrier-like, mosquito-free zone.
While some mosquito repellents are made with chemicals that are safe on skin, others use plant-based ingredients. If you have very young children, always check with a doctor before applying any mosquito repellent to their skin.
How We Found the Mosquito Repellents
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject-matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
What attracts mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes use their receptors to find a host and are attracted to the carbon dioxide you emit. They’re also attracted to sweat, which explains why mosquitoes may flock to you when it’s warm outside or after you finish exercising. Fragrances, such as scented lotions and perfumes, are also known attractants for mosquitoes.
Can mosquitoes bite through clothes?
While mosquitoes can bite through clothing, they are far more likely to attack exposed skin. Additionally, some colors (like red and orange) are known to help prevent mosquito bites.
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