Are you looking for the best mosquito repellent to prevent you from becoming a mosquito feast? If so, read on for a list of the best mosquito repellents currently on the market.
What’s the Best Mosquito Repellent?
Whether you’re a mosquito magnet, spend time in a mosquito wonderland, or just want to keep yourself safe from mosquito-borne diseases while outdoors, you’ll need an effective mosquito repellent.
Finding a good mosquito repellent can be daunting and overwhelming. Which mosquito repellents actually work? Are the ingredients safe? Will it also protect against ticks?
We’ve listed our top picks for the best mosquito repellent with both synthetic and natural ingredients. You’ll want to read further to learn why you need a mosquito repellent, what considerations to make when choosing a mosquito repellent, and our pick for the best mosquito repellent.
Which mosquito repellents actually work? We’ve found the seven best mosquito repellents, based on various properties.
Our Picks for the Best Mosquito Repellents:
- Best Overall Mosquito Repellent: Sawyer 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
- Best DEET Mosquito Repellent: Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent
- Best Picaridin Mosquito Repellent: Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Tick + Insect Spray
- Best Smelling Scented Mosquito Repellent: Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard + Picaridin
- Best Natural Mosquito Repellent: Coleman Botanicals Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
- Best Natural Mosquito and Tick Repellent: Buzz Away Extreme
- Longest-Lasting Mosquito and Tick Repellent: Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
Because we only want to consider the best options, our list only contains insect repellents that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe and effective against disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Choosing a mosquito repellent that is registered with the EPA can give you peace of mind that it will protect against the specific mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti), which transmit viral diseases such as dengue and Zika.
However, before we dive into more information about these products, let’s look at why you need a mosquito repellent in the first place.
Why You Need a Mosquito Repellent
Mosquitoes love to suck blood, and they seek out your blood through your skin’s odor and the carbon dioxide that your body gives off. They also find you by sensing your heat and movement.
Since you’re going to move while you’re outside and it’s not practical to mask our heat, the best thing you can do is mask your scent. Insect repellents affect insects’ sense of smell and taste so that they don’t notice us as much.
Nobody likes to be a host for a mosquito’s vampiristic blood meal. Welts from a mosquito bite can itch and look bad (especially on your face). If you scratch them too much, they can leave your skin open to infection.
However, the biggest reason to avoid mosquito bites is that they can pass several diseases to humans. Diseases mosquitoes in the USA sometimes carry include:
- Chikungunya virus
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis
- Jamestown Canyon virus
- La Crosse Encephalitis
- St. Louis Encephalitis
- West Nile virus
- Zika virus
A mosquito bite can be more than just annoying. Preventing mosquito bites is also essential for your safety. We’ve picked seven of the best mosquito repellents that can keep you safe.
Best Mosquito Repellent: Top 7 Picks
Below, you will find the best mosquito repellents for 2021. All are EPA-approved insect repellents. We’ve started with synthetic options and finished with natural options.
1. Sawyer Picaridin Lotion – Best Overall
Sawyer’s Picaridin Insect Repellent lotion is at the top of the list because its active ingredient, picaridin, repels both mosquitoes and ticks for up to 14 hours. Very few repellents last that long. You can also expect it to repel various flies, gnats, and chiggers for up to eight hours.
If you’re one of those people who seems to be a mosquito magnet, no matter how much insect repellent you use, this product should keep you bite-free. It also doesn’t have a strong smell like some other insect repellents, which will keep you from repelling humans.
Many people maximize the power of Sawyer Picaridin with Sawyer Permethrin to keep insects off clothing and gear up to six weeks or six washes. You can also purchase it in individual packets to keep it from spilling into your pack or luggage.
2. Ben’s Tick & Insect – Best DEET Mosquito Repellent
- Repels mosquitoes and ticks 10+ hours
- Is small enough to carry in your pack to reapply
- Contains nearly 100% DEET with no fillers
- DEET can be toxic if you don’t apply it properly
Ben’s Tick and Insect repellent is the best mosquito repellent with DEET. If you’re one of those people who feel like an insect repellent can’t work without DEET, then Ben’s is one of your best choices.
Ben’s was the first DEET repellent the EPA approved. It contains 98.11% DEET and provides 10+ hours of protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. Ben’s doesn’t have a strong smell, so you can spend more time smelling the great outdoors than your insect repellent.
You can go out and do whatever you want outdoors for hours without worrying about getting even one mosquito bite. You will be the envy of your friends who chose a lesser repellent or forgot to reapply.
3. Ranger Ready Tick + Insect – Best Picaridin Mosquito Repellent
- Repels mosquitoes and ticks for 12+ hours
- 4 scent options or buy it in combo with permethrin
- Feels slightly oily on your skin
Ranger Ready Tick + Insect contains 20% picaridin and is the best picaridin-based mosquito repellent. It will protect you for 12+ hours against ticks and mosquitoes and eight hours against flies, gnats, no-see-ums, and fleas.
Even if you’re in a swamp or jungle and see mosquitoes flying around everywhere, they will avoid landing on your skin when you wear Ranger Ready. Just be sure to reapply after half the day is over or after getting wet or sweating a lot, and you’ll stay mosquito- (and tick-) free.
4. Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard + Picaridin – Best Smelling Scented Mosquito Repellent
- Has a pleasant scent
- Not oily
- Repels mosquitoes for 4 hours and ticks for 12 hours
- Repels biting flies
- Also comes in a towelette version
- Slightly sticky feel
- Has warnings for applying to clothes or open wounds
Avon Skin-So-Soft + Picaridin is the best smelling scented mosquito repellent on our list. Many people have sworn by Skin-So-Soft (SSS) for decades to keep insects at bay and because they love its scent.
This product is SSS’s most effective and longest-lasting product against disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks. It repels mosquitoes for up to eight hours and ticks up to twelve hours.
Another bonus is that it keeps biting flies and gnats from attacking you when no other product seems to work. Mosquitoes will part in front of you like magic when you pass through them wearing this SSS product.
5. Coleman Botanicals Lemon Eucalyptus – Best Natural Mosquito Repellent
- Comes in a travel-sized non-aerosol spray container
- Naturally repels mosquitoes for up to 6 hours
- Doesn’t repel ticks
- Strong odor that still lingers after a shower
Coleman Botanicals is the best natural mosquito repellent. This product uses natural lemon eucalyptus oil as its active ingredient to give you more peace of mind while repelling disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Coleman’s repellent is the only repellent on our list that doesn’t seem to repel ticks.
You’ll have to reapply this product after about six hours to keep repelling mosquitoes. However, that’s a reasonable amount of time for a natural product.
If you spray every exposed area that a mosquito could attack, you’ll find that they buzz on by rather than sampling your blood. Of course, the strong scent may have people passing you by, too.
6. Buzz Away Extreme – Best Natural Mosquito and Tick Repellent
- Natural ingredients repel both mosquitoes and ticks
- Good for the environment
- You need to reapply every 2-4 hours
- Strong lemon smell
Most effective natural insect repellents do not claim to protect against both mosquitoes and ticks, but Buzz Away does. Because it contains natural ingredients, it’s safe for the whole family to use.
The active ingredient is citronella oil, with other essential oils like geranium, lemongrass, cedarwood, and peppermint, which help keep biting insects away. Buzz Away is only effective if you use it properly and reapply it often.
The downside to citronella-based repellents is that you need to reapply every 2-3.5 hours (every two hours for ticks). Luckily, the container is small, non-aerosol, and the cap stays on, so it’s easy to pack for re-application.
When you use this product, you’ll need to be sure to spray it on your clothing, shoes, pant leg openings, stomach, and exposed skin. If you just spray it on your shoes or clothes, you’re not going to keep the ticks and mosquitoes away.
7. Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus – Longest-Lasting Mosquito and Tick Repellent
Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus is the longest-lasting natural choice for keeping both mosquitoes and ticks away. While some other lemon eucalyptus sprays don’t keep ticks away and the company doesn’t claim that it keeps ticks away, users report no ticks while using this product.
If you’re a mosquito whisperer who can draw mosquitoes to you while others remain unaffected, this product can become your salvation. Users differ on whether they like the smell or not.
Some people find that the smell dissipates quickly, while others say that they continue to smell strongly of eucalyptus for hours afterward. However, the long-lasting natural protection that it gives outweighs any negatives from the smell.
Picking the Best Mosquito Repellent for You
There are four considerations to make when deciding which mosquito repellent is best and which is right for your specific situation. You should notice whether it’s registered with the EPA, if it also protects against ticks, the active ingredients, and how long it lasts.
Is It Registered with the EPA?
For a mosquito repellent to be on the EPA registration list, the EPA has to review it and accept the data that supports the product’s claims for protection against disease-causing mosquitoes.
The EPA has reviewed and registered all the mosquito repellents on our list.
Does It Also Protect Against Ticks?
Both mosquitoes and ticks can carry debilitating diseases. Thus, if you’re going to be in an area that also has ticks, it’s a good idea to choose a repellent that keeps both ticks and mosquitoes away.
All the mosquito repellents on our list except the Coleman one repel ticks.
What Are the Active Ingredients?
Which mosquito repellent ingredients are safe? The EPA has approved eight insect repellent active ingredients for skin application.
Here are properties of the active ingredients that appear in our list of best mosquito repellents:
- Citronella oil: Citronella oil comes from an Asian grass. Studies show that citronella oil repels mosquitoes best when paired with vanillin. However, it can also be a skin allergen, especially if not diluted.
- DEET: Farmers first used DEET as an agricultural pesticide. DEET products consistently rate high for repelling mosquitoes. However, there are risks. Misuse has caused seizures and death, and a Swedish study found it to carry a testicular cancer risk.
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (LEO): LEO comes from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree. However, it can be a mild skin irritant.
- Picaridin: Picaridin is a synthetic repellent against insects, ticks, and chiggers. It mimics piperidine, a component in the plant species that contains black pepper. It can be even more effective than DEET. Skin irritation is uncommon. However, the EPA has found it toxic to fish.
How Long Will It Protect You from Mosquitoes?
How long do mosquito repellents last? The amount of time they last depends on the active ingredient. You can find mosquito repellents that last from 2-14 hours:
- Citronella Oil: Two to three hours
- DEET: Up to seven hours
- Lemon Eucalyptus Oil (LEO): Up to six hours
- Picaridin: Up to 12 hours for the lotion and up to 14 hours for the spray
If your mosquito repellent only lasts a couple of hours, plan to take the container with you and reapply often. Shorter-lasting products aren’t necessarily lesser products; you just have to reapply them more often to keep yourself from becoming a mosquito snack.
So, What Is the Best Mosquito Repellent?
Sawyer 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent is the best mosquito repellent because it lasts 14 hours, has very little scent, rarely irritates the skin, and also repels ticks. However, the best mosquito repellent for you depends on the properties you need.
If you’re looking for a product featuring a specific ingredient, a specific scent, specific packaging, or only natural ingredients, you might make a different choice from the options in our guide.