7 Tick Repellents That Work (Plus 2 That Might Not)
Ticks are most active during warmer months and can carry debilitating diseases, so it's important to protect yourself before you head outdoors.
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R&R Insect Repellent Lotion
This non-greasy, odorless lotion lasts for up to eight hours and features IR3535, an EPA-registered tick repellent, as its main active ingredient. Not familiar? It’s a biopesticide, different from traditional pesticides like DEET or picaridin. It can be safely reapplied up to three times per day, and there is no need to wash it off because it’s considered harmless to your skin. Using tick repellent isn’t all you can do to protect yourself. These smart devices ward off bugs.
Gamehide ElimiTick Long Sleeve Tech Shirt
If you don’t want to deal with tick repellent lotions, specially treated clothing is another option. “Scientists that work with ticks often recommend permethrin-treated clothing over other repellents,” says William Walton, Ph.D., professor and vice-chair in the entomology department at UC Riverside. Here’s how it works: This shirt comes coated in tick repellent that’s bonded to the fabric fibers. If a tick lands on the fabric, its nervous system slows down and it eventually falls off, according to a Gamehide representative. The shirt maintains effectiveness for up to 70 washes. Check out some of our favorite workwear that actually holds up.
Insect Shield Sport Crew Sock
These cotton and polyester socks contain permethrin, keeping the ticks at bay, and have been proven effective through 70 washes. “Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide that acts like a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers,” says Walton. Widely used in public health and agricultural applications, it has low toxicity to humans and is even approved for controlling insect pests in food processing areas. Here’s what to do if you find a tick in your house.
Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent
This product contains 0.5 percent permethrin, but Walton says you should avoid applying permethrin directly to your skin. Follow the label’s instructions for applying it to your clothes, fabrics, plastics or outdoor gear. Once it dries, it is odorless and lasts up to six weeks or six washings. During application, be especially careful to avoid contact with your skin and eyes. This 12-ounce bottle treats up to two complete outfits. Plus, check out these common myths about personal insect repellents.
Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent Lotion
This tick repellent lotion contains 20 percent DEET, the common pesticide approved by the EPA and designed for direct application to the skin. It’s non-greasy, odorless and sweat-proof, and can be used along with sunscreen. Rather than killing ticks, “DEET works by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us,” reports the EPA. DEET is the most effective repellent if you will be out for two hours or more, says Walton. Sawyer Premium Insect Repellant Lotion releases DEET slowly and lasts up to 11 hours. Check out these additional mosquito repellent tips.
Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Worried about using DEET on your children as a tick repellent? “I use DEET-based products to prevent mosquito and tick bites on myself and my family,” says Rebecca Trout Fryxell, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical and veterinary entomology at the University of Tennessee. Here’s how to avoid deer ticks.
Natrapel 12-Hour Insect Repellent
This tick repellent spray uses 20 percent picaridin, another EPA-registered ingredient. “Some people do not like the smell and oily feel of some DEET formulations,” says Walton. “Picaridin offers a comparatively pleasant alternative to DEET.” It’s effective at warding off the ticks that cause Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Here’s how to ensure ticks stay out of your home as well.
Tick Repellent Wristband
Tired of chemical-filled sprays and lotions? Try this all-natural and family-friendly tick repellent wristband. They’re even safe for babies, and they smell good. Each band contains a blend of essential oils: citronella, geranium, and lemongrass. These bracelets haven’t been proven effective, so if you do rely on one to prevent ticks, shower as soon as you come indoors (within two hours) to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Wondercide Natural Yard Spray
No harsh chemicals in this tick repellent: Wondercide’s spray uses 22.5 percent cedarwood oil. It’s considered safe for kids and pets with no wait time, and can be used on your lawn, plants, and grassy areas. Great for large areas, it can kill ticks for up to 5,000 square feet. Plus, this product is safe for beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. But not everyone agrees. “I do not know of any studies that conclusively demonstrate the effectiveness of cedarwood oil for controlling ticks,” says Walton. Here’s nine natural remedies for pest control.