The best mosquito repellent
Mosquitoes are one of the only truly unpleasant aspects of the outdoors, but with the right mosquito repellent, you can stay outside longer without worrying about returning home covered in itchy bites. Mosquito repellents come in several forms, including sprays, wipes, and creams, each of which are applied differently. The ingredients in repellents vary from one product to the next, and they vary in their effectiveness and side effects.
Our top pick by Avon stands out for its nonirritating ingredients. To learn more about the types of mosquito repellents available, continue reading our buying guide.
Why use mosquito repellents?
Everyone knows how uncomfortable a handful of mosquito bites can be. Mosquitoes are ubiquitous in many areas and are difficult to exterminate. In most cases, mosquito repellent is the only way to keep them from biting, reducing itchiness and protecting you from harmful diseases like Zika virus and malaria.
Considerations when using mosquito repellents
Mosquito repellents come in different forms and have their benefits and drawbacks.
Sprays are easy to apply to skin or clothing, but must be used with caution as they can also be inhaled. Applying an even coat can be difficult.
Creams allow for even application on the skin, but they cannot be applied to clothing and can leave an undesirable residue.
Towelettes are easy to carry and can be quickly wiped over skin or clothing to apply. However, you have to find a place to dispose of the wipes or carry them with you, the latter of which may help to deter more pesky mosquitoes.
The ingredients used to deter mosquitoes vary. Some are natural, but many are synthetic.
DEET is a popular and effective ingredient, though some people are concerned about its possible effects on humans. Those with sensitive skin may experience rashes.
Picaridin is an odorless, synthetic ingredient that is easy on the skin.
Permethrin is designed to be applied only to clothing and gear. While it succeeds in warding off mosquitoes, it can also harm other insects. Some clothing may be pretreated with permethrin and deter mosquitoes for up to 20 washes.
Natural ingredients lack the effectiveness of synthetic ingredients but are less likely to irritate the skin or respiratory system.
Ingredients vary in their duration, with a higher concentration of the active ingredient generally corresponding to longer-lasting effects. Permethrin is the longest-lasting option, with DEET coming in second. Natural, plant-based ingredients have the shortest lifespan and may need to be reapplied.
EPA and CDC approval
Some mosquito repellents are registered with the EPA and approved by the CDC. This tells you that they have been studied for their effectiveness and their safety for human use.
Mosquito repellent prices
Most mosquito repellents cost around $10. However, the volume of repellent or number of wipes varies, so check to see whether you are receiving a good value for your purchase.
Q. Should mosquito repellent be applied before or after sunscreen?
A. Sunscreen should go on first. Bear in mind that you may need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, but mosquito repellent can last for six hours or more.
Q. Should mosquito repellent be washed off after returning indoors?
A. Yes. This reduces the chances of getting a rash. Plus, it gets rid of that sticky feeling you can get after wearing mosquito repellent.
Mosquito repellents we recommend
Best of the best: Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Towelettes
Our take: These wipes stand out for their effectiveness and their odorless application.
What we like: This picaridin-based spray is safe to use for children and infants, and it is unlikely to cause irritation. The wipes are easy to apply to the skin.
What we dislike: Mosquitoes may still hover around you, though they will probably not bite.
Best bang for your buck: Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes
Our take: These wipes are fairly affordable and very easy to apply anywhere.
What we like: This pack of wipes is one of the best values when the price per wipe is considered. The repellent goes on smoothly and without odor and it is safe for all ages.
What we dislike: A relatively short effectiveness period means you may need to reapply frequently.
Choice 3: Ben's 30% DEET Insect Repellent Wipes
Our take: This spray is effective not only against mosquitoes but also against Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
What we like: These wipes have a fairly high DEET content, making them more effective and longer lasting than most wipes.
What we dislike: The wipes are fairly small and do not contain much repellent, so application can be difficult.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.