The 7 Best Insect Repellents for Your Deck and Patio

Updated: May 28, 2024

Don't let mosquitoes, flies and other pesky bugs ruin your outdoor fun. Pick up one of the best insect repellents, all on Amazon.

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The Best Insect Repellents For Your Deck And PatioVIA MERCHANT

As the weather warms up, you may find yourself spending a lot more time outside, whether on your patio or deck, gathered around a picnic table or fire pit or heading out for a camping trip or day at the beach. But the great outdoors isn’t so great if you don’t have an insect repellent handy to keep biting bugs away.

But with so many pest repellents claiming to do the job, it can be difficult to know which ones are most safe and effective. “If you’re going for a proven chemical option, the most tried-and-true insect repellent method for your deck and patio comes in the form of DEET.”

That said, he suggests you have other options if you prefer not to overuse DEET. “I personally like to go as natural and chemical-free as possible whenever I can,” DeAngelis says. “There are cases where a pesticide application can be helpful to reduce nearby insect populations, but often times wearing long sleeves and focusing on long-term natural control methods are worthwhile solutions.”

For a non-chemical repellent, products with peppermint oil or learning how to use clove oil as an insect repellent can help repel various rodents, insects and mosquitoes. “You can also use peppermint oil in a diffuser outdoors while you’re outside on your deck to help naturally create a scent barrier,” says DeAngelis.

In battle of the bugs, defend yourself against biting mosquitoesticks and other pests with the best insect repellents available on Amazon.

Best Insect Repellents

1 / 7
Ranger Ready Insect Repellent
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Best Overall Insect Repellent

Ranger Ready Insect Repellent


  • DEET-free formula uses EPA-registered picaridin
  • Effective for up to 12 hours
  • Comes in a variety of scents and sizes
  • Pump applicator


  • Pricey

A single application of Ranger Ready body-spray repellent has been proven effective against a long list of pests, including ticks, biting flies, chiggers, gnats, sand flies and also works as a mosquito repellent. Its active ingredient, EPA-registered picaridin, is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for adults, including pregnant people, and children at least one year old.

“Ranger Ready comes in many scents, and randomly I ended up with the “Ranger Orange.” It smells pleasant and citrusy, in no way chemically ridden or overpowering,” says Ethan O’Donnell, Family Handyman’s digital editor. “I appreciate the Ranger Ready bottle has a pump, so there’s no lingering cloud of repellent as you apply.”

2 / 7
Natrapel 12 Hour Insect Repellent
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Best Tick Repellent

Natrapel 12-Hour Insect Repellent


  • Repels ticks and other insects
  • EPA-registered active ingredient
  • Formula is safe for children over 2 months old
  • Eco-friendly delivery technology won't release aerosols into the environment
  • Won't damage outdoor gear or clothing


  • Some say it feels greasy

This tick-repellent spray uses 20% picaridin, which makes it effective at warding off the ticks that cause Lyme disease and mosquitoes that could carry the Zika and West Nile viruses, as well as other biting insects for up to 12 hours.

This is the second can of spray and works as well as the first in repelling biting flies, mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Friends tried it and will be buying it as they found it effective, also,” writes Cee Tee, a five-star reviewer.

3 / 7
Off! Mosquito Lamp
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Best Insect Repellent for Outdoor Dining

Off! Mosquito Lamp


  • Adds ambiance and atmosphere while repelling insects
  • Effective up to 10 feet by 10 feet for up to 6 hours
  • EPA-registered active ingredient
  • Odorless
  • Simple to set up


  • Must stock up on refills, sold separately

Ignite the Off! mosquito lamp around 10 minutes before you’re ready to go outside, and the heat-activated diffuser emits odorless metofluthrin to effectively repels mosquitoes, saving you from mosquito bites. Ideal for patios, porches and decks, each lamp lets you enjoy a 10-foot-by-10-foot, mosquito-free zone for up to six hours.

“I live in South Louisiana where the mosquito is prevalent. I hate wearing bug spray and am always the first person to get bit. Most people won’t even see the mosquitos yet, and I already have seven bites!” writes five-star reviewer, Lydia Bisland. “These are a godsend and really do work. Would 100% recommend.”

4 / 7
Dartagnan Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks
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Best Budget Area Insect Repellent

Dartagnan Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks


  • Affordable
  • Each stick burns for up to 45 minutes
  • Uses plant oils peppermint, lemongrass and citronella
  • DEET-free


  • Should avoid contact with eyes, clothing or flammable objects
  • Not EPA-registered for efficacy

These affordable incense sticks create a fragrant insect barrier using plant-based peppermint, lemongrass and citronella. Besides being inexpensive, they’re easy to use: Poke the sticks into the ground or in a small pot with sand or dirt, and light the end.

“I use these sticks outside the doorways of my home throughout the summer… it helps keep the mosquitoes from following my family inside,” writes five-star reviewer, Aidansmom08.

5 / 7
Tiki Bitefighter Torch Fuel
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Best Torch Insect Repellent

Tiki BiteFighter Torch Fuel


  • The 64-ounce bottle fills around six torch canisters
  • Clean-burning
  • Petroleum-free and 85% plant-based
  • Has a easy-pour spout


  • Pricey
  • Some may not care for the smell
  • Not EPA-registered for efficacy

Tiki torches have been a popular method for deterring insects for years. Fill yours with Tiki BiteFighter fuel. Not only are you setting a tropical scene, but you’re also keeping uninvited guests away, thanks to the fuel’s citronella and cedar formula (cedar is famous for chasing away moths, too). Be sure to safely store leftover fuel until your next outdoor gathering!

Five-star reviewer, Alyssa, writes, “As soon as I put this in my tiki torch and lit it, I noticed a huge difference in mosquitos and only had about two or three land on me. Definitely will be purchasing more.”

6 / 7
thermacell Mosquito Repellent E Series Rechargeable Repeller
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Best Plug-In Insect Repellent

Thermacell E-Series Mosquito Repeller


  • Operates nine hours on a single charge
  • No open flame or smoke
  • EPA-registered repellent
  • Creates a 20-foot zone of protection
  • Operates on a rechargeable battery


  • Each cartridge lasts 12 hours then must be replaced (refills sold separately)
  • Must remember to recharge between uses

Part of Thermacell’s line of insect repellent products, this rechargeable mosquito repeller mimics the deterring properties of chrysanthemums, a plant that contains pyrethrins, a naturally occurring pesticide known to send insects packing. Just push a button to unleash an invisible 20-foot-wide force field that drives off mosquitoes in 15 minutes and lasts up to nine hours.

“We bought 10 of these for my son’s wedding. We were told at the last minute that the mosquitoes would come out after dark at the venue, so we set them up at the tables and had no issues,” writes five-star reviewer, Kathren W. Staveskie. “Was able to enjoy the wedding without worrying about getting bit.”

7 / 7
Essential Oils And Other Natural Repellents
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Best DIY Insect Repellent

Essential Oils and Other Natural Repellents


  • Natural and organic
  • Pleasant fragrance
  • Can be used on skin or plants in the garden


  • In high concentrations, essential oils may irritate sensitive skin and may be toxic to pets
  • Not EPA-registered for efficacy
  • Less effective than some chemical repellents

Turning up in store-bought sprays everywhere, essential oils and other natural repellents can be effective deterrents to bugs like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and even lanternflies. And the best part? You can mix them up at home. Pepperminteucalyptus, lavender, lemon eucalyptus and neem oil can all be diluted with water to create an insect spray. Try this simple DIY mix:

  • 2 tablespoons essential oil (mix and match depending on the insect you’re targeting)
  • 1/2 tablespoon liquid dish soap
  • 1/2 gallon of water

Pour all three ingredients into an empty spray bottle and start spritzing!

For putting off fleas and ticks, try soaking a solution of minced garlic and mineral oil overnight, then putting in a spray bottle. You can spray this mixture on your skin, pets or plants to send ticks running.

Spotted lanternflies, a real nuisance in the garden, aren’t keen on neem oil. Another way to get rid of these flies is with a spray of rubbing alcohol, vinegar and water. You can also try a combination of dish soap and white or apple cider vinegar.

An array of flying bugs can be “grounded” by burning thyme leaves in a campfire or your backyard fire pit.

What to Consider When Buying an Insect Repellent

No one wants to be covered with itchy bug bites, so choosing the right insect repellent requires asking yourself a few questions:

  • What kinds of bugs are you targeting? Some repellents work on all insects while others specialize in one or two types, typically mosquitoes and/or ticks.
  • How large of an area do you want to cover? Some bug-repelling products protect only you while others cover the whole yard.
  • Are you willing to use chemicals? Some insect repellents contain chemicals, which are proven effective but should be used with caution and care, while others are all-natural but may be less effective

How We Found the Best Insect 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.


Does insect repellent expire?

The majority of insect repellents don’t expire, but, depending on the active ingredient, will become less effective over time. For instance, DEET has a longer shelf life than repellents containing ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate, which experts say lasts about 18 months.

What else can I do to repel insects?

Another great option to naturally repel flying insects is to strategically use a few electric fans. “While out enjoying your deck, simply keep a box fan or two positioned near you,” Zack DeAngelis says. “This will prevent insects from being able to fly steady in the strong stream of wind created by the fan, and thus keep you insect-free.”

You might also consider attracting insect predators by putting up a bird or bat house near your deck or patio. “Birds eat a considerable number of insects such as flies and moths, but bats are the real breadwinners when it comes to eating mosquitoes,” DeAngelis says. “Just one bat can significantly reduce mosquito populations in your area.”