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The Best Insect Repellents for Time Outside

two people wearing insect repelling bracelets and sitting in camping chairs lakeside

No matter how nice the weather and how beautiful the view, mosquitos and other insects can quickly ruin a day spent outdoors with their bites. To keep those pests away, people often turn to insect repellents. While sprays are the most popular way to use insect repellents, there are other options out there for those who don’t like the feel or smell of bug spray. Here are some insect repellents that we recommend.

Buying an Insect Repellent

Here’s what you should consider:

  • Application Type: There are several different ways to use insect repellent. These include spray, wipes, bracelets to wear, and candles to light. You should consider the activity you will be doing when deciding what repellent to use. If you are going on a hike, wearable repellents are best; if you are just sitting on a porch or around a campfire, a candle may be more convenient.
  • Chemical Type: The most effective repellents often contain the chemicals diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin. Developed by the military, DEET is considered the best chemical for repelling insects. However, it can damage plastic and other synthetic materials and can be toxic if swallowed, so it is important to wash your hands after use. On the other hand, picaridin does not damage plastic or synthetic material and effectively keeps away a greater range of insects, including flies.
  • Time Spent Outside: Different types of insect repellents last longer than others. To prevent having to constantly reapply, it is important to know how long the repellent lasts. When using a long-lasting formula, products with DEET can last up to 12 hours; picaridin up to 14 hours; permethrin-treated clothing up to 70 washes; and candles as long as they are lit.

Best Spray: OFF! Deep Woods DryTouch Insect Repellent, 4 Count

OFF! Deep Woods dry spray mosquito repellent

This value pack of OFF! Deep Woods insect repellent is formulated with 25% DEET, providing you with long-lasting protection against mosquitos, flies, chiggers, ticks, and gnats. The powder-dry formula won’t leave you feeling oily or greasy, and the aerosol can allows for easy application. This spray is ideal for those who love outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, camping, and fishing.

Best Spray

OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Aerosol, Dry, Non-Greasy Formula, Bug Spray with Long Lasting Protection from Mosquitoes, 4 oz (Pack of 4)

This value pack of insect repellent is formulated with 25% DEET to protect against mosquitos, flies, chiggers, ticks, and gnats.

Best Bracelet: Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

bag of mosquito repelling bracelets next to 9 bracelets of different colors

This 10-pack of DEET-free, waterproof bracelets are made from polyethylene and essential oils, such as citronella, that are known to repel insects. Each bracelet comes individually wrapped in a resealable bag that helps increase its lifespan. Since they are stretchy and adjustable, one size will fit everyone. This organic product is also cruelty-free and vegan.

Best Bracelet

Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, DEET-Free Waterproof Bands

These DEET-free, waterproof bracelets are made from polyethylene and essential oils known to repel insects.

Best Candles: Repel 20-Ounce Citronella Insect Outdoor Candle

a Repel citronella candle resting on a wooden bench in a campsite

This 20-ounce candle will burn for up to 40 hours, providing you with long-lasting protection from mosquitos and other insects. Made with real citronella oil, it is perfect to use on your patio, porch, deck, campsite, and picnic table. The handle also makes it portable, meaning you can take it to any destination. With several lit candles, you can make a perimeter to protect you from flying insects.

Best Candle

Repel HG-94116 94116 Citronella Triple Wick Candle, 20-Ounce, Pack of 1, 1 pack, One Color

This citronella candle will burn up to 40 hours, providing you with protection from mosquitos and other insects.

Best Wipes: Cutter Family Mosquito Wipes, 15 Count

pack of 15 insect repelling wipes

These wipes contain 7.15% DEET, protecting you from mosquitos and other insects. The wipes allow for easy and controlled application to different areas of the body. This 15-count pack comes in a resealable bag for extended freshness. Not greasy or oily, these wipes leave behind a clean, fresh scent.

Best for Kids: Babyganics DEET-Free Bug Spray

two bottles of Babyganics Bug Spray

This natural bug spray only contains gentle, plant-based ingredients that leave no chemical residue. Made with 100% natural essential oils, such as citronella and rosemary, this spray is ideal for babies and children as it is nontoxic and DEET-free. The non-greasy formula contains no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, fragrances, or dyes and is never tested on animals.

Best for Kids

Babyganics DEET Free Travel Size Bug Spray | Natural Plant Based, 2 Pack (6 ounce)

This natural bug spray only contains gentle, plant-based ingredients that leave no chemical residue.

Ellie Miller Ellie Miller
Ellie Miller is a full-time copy editor and occasional writer for LifeSavvy’s reviews articles. With years of experience in substantive and copy editing, proofreading, and publishing, she has edited thousands of online articles, as well as memoirs, scientific essays, book chapters, and workplace training documents. She hopes you’ll find some new favorite products here on LifeSavvy like she has. Read Full Bio »
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