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The Best Mosquito Repellents

🕚 Updated April 2023

No matter how nice the weather and how beautiful the view is, mosquitos can quickly ruin an otherwise pleasant day or evening spent outdoors. To keep the pests away, turn to these mosquito repellents.

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  Best for the Patio Best Bracelets Best Spray Best Candles Best Value
Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller
Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
Bug Soother
Natural Insect, Gnat, and Mosquito Repellent
Murphy's Naturals
Mosquito Repellent Candles
Deep Woods Insect Repellent Aerosol
Our SummaryThis mosquito repellent works similarly to candle versions, but without the scent, smoke, or open flame.These DEET-free, waterproof bracelets are made from polyethylene and essential oils known to repel mosquitos.This classic bug spray will keep mosquitos and other insects away from you and your whole family.These natural, citrusy candles will burn for hours and hours, providing you with protection from mosquitos and a pleasant aroma in the process.This value pack of insect repellent is formulated with 25% DEET to protect against mosquitos and a wide range of other bugs.
Pros✓ No stickiness or smoke or strong smells
✓ Longer radius
✓ Easy to use
✓ Signal indication light
✓ Multiple color options
✓ Wearable protection
✓ Waterproof
✓ Resealable bags
✓ Several quantity options
✓ One size fits all
✓ Natural and gentle
✓ Safe for kids and pets
✓ Non-greasy
✓ Several quantity options
✓ Travel-sized bottle included
✓ Repels some other bugs
✓ Paraben and petroleum-free
✓ Natural plant-based scents
✓ Pleasant smell
✓ Several quantity options
✓ Quality wax
✓ Long-lasting
✓ Easy application
✓ Good value
✓ Works on other insects
✓ Doesn't stain clothes
✓ Sweat-resistant
Cons✗ Creates plastic waste
✗ Not safe around food
✗ May have to wear several at once
✗ Don't protect whole body
✗ Requires frequent reapplying✗ May attract other types of bugs✗ Not gentle
✗ May harm grass or plants
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15 Models Evaluated

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The Best Mosquito Repellents

Woman tourist applying mosquito repellent on her arm during a hike in nature.

Buying Guide for Mosquito Repellents

dad and son use mosquito spray outside.
Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock.com

Why buy mosquito repellent?

If a mosquito has ever bitten you, you won’t be questioning why it’s worth your while to buy mosquito repellent. Bugs fluttering around you and landing on your skin while you’re trying to enjoy an evening outside are irritating enough as is, and mosquitos leave behind itchy, raised bites on your skin that linger for at least a few days. Scratch them too much, and they start to bleed and form scabs, possibly leaving you with permanent scarring. Plus, mosquitos are capable of spreading diseases like malaria through their bites. A good mosquito repellent will keep the pests from bothering you, spare you these itchy bites, and protect you from mosquito-borne illnesses.

What should you look for in mosquito repellents?

  • Application Type: There are several different ways to use mosquito 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. Wearable repellents are best if you are going on a hike; 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 the best chemical for repelling mosquitos. However, it can damage plastic and other synthetic materials, so it’s best not to spray it on your clothes. It can also be toxic if swallowed, so washing your hands after use is important. Conversely, Picaridin won’t damage plastic or synthetic materials and is almost equally effective at keeping mosquitos away.
  • Time Frame: Different types of mosquito repellents last longer than others. It is important to know how long the repellent lasts to prevent having to reapply constantly. When using a long-lasting formula, products with DEET can last up to 12 hours, picaridin up to 14 hours, and permethrin-treated clothing up to 70 washes. Candles will work as long as they are lit, and their size and wick length will determine how many hours they can burn.

Are mosquito repellents effective on other insects?

It depends on the repellent in question, as it varies from product to product. Pretty much any bug spray you buy will repel mosquitos, but not all mosquito repellents will detract other species of insects. Most mosquito repellents will be at least somewhat effective against ticks, but not necessarily different types of bugs. Repellents containing the aforementioned picaridin are usually a good bet against a wider range of insects, including flies. Fortunately, most mosquito repellents will list the type of bugs they’re effective against, so be sure to scan the listing to see if they’ll also repel other insects you know will be a problem.

Our Picks for the Best Mosquito Repellents

Best for the Patio

Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller

This mosquito repellent works similarly to candle versions, but without the scent, smoke, or open flame.

Pros: There are several different types of mosquito repellents on the market, and this is one of the unique models. This device rests on your tabletop and repels mosquitos within a 15-foot radius. All you have to do is insert a mat and the cartridge and then rotate the bottom a few times to click it on. Within 15 minutes, it’ll begin repelling mosquitos, and the orange indicator light will let you know when it’s on and functioning. No greasy, oily, or sticky feel from sprays to worry about, and it won’t require an open flame or create smoke like candles and torches do. There is a faint smell from the butane, but it’s nowhere near as overpowering as many candles or sprays, making this a good choice for people sensitive to strong smells or who have allergies.

Cons: Since the cartridge and mats will need replacing when they run out, this device will create more plastic waste and is thus less eco-friendly and more costly in the long run than most mosquito repellents. The instructions also note that you shouldn’t eat or drink around it for safety and health purposes.

Bottom Line: If you want to enjoy your porch or balcony without the mosquitos but aren’t allowed to have candles (say in a rental or dorm) or don’t want to risk an open flame, this mosquito repellent is an excellent alternative. It works the same as a candle mosquito repellent but without the risks of fire or smoke.


Best Bracelets

Cliganic Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

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

Pros: For wearable mosquito repellent that’ll have you covered no matter where you go, this 10-pack of DEET-free, waterproof bracelets is made from polyethylene and essential oils, such as citronella, that are known to repel mosquitos. Each bracelet comes individually wrapped in a resealable bag that helps increase its lifespan. Since they are stretchy and adjustable, one size will fit adults to children. And they’ll fit around ankles and wrists if your legs or lower body are more prone to getting bitten. This organic product is also cruelty-free and vegan. If 10 bracelets aren’t enough for your needs, you can buy them in packs of 20 and 50.

Cons: You may want to wear two or more bracelets at once for better results; wearing one bracelet on one wrist may not be enough protection for everyone. And they won’t shield your neck or face from bites nearly as well as they do your limbs.

Bottom Line: If you’re not a fan of bug sprays but are still after on-the-go protection from mosquitos, these bracelets are an excellent alternative. All you have to do is slide them over your wrist(s) and ankle(s), and you’re all set, with no stickiness or chemical smells required.


Best Spray

Bug Soother Natural Insect, Gnat, and Mosquito Repellent

This classic bug spray will keep mosquitos and other insects away from you and your whole family.

Pros: This natural bug spray is made from gentle, skin-friendly ingredients without chemical residue. The scents of lemongrass mixed with vanilla are repellent to mosquitos but much more pleasant to humans than the usual harsh chemicals of many bug sprays. Due to its natural, essential oil-based formula and nongreasy feel, this spray is ideal for babies, children, and even pets, as it’s not only gentle but nontoxic, chemical-free, and DEET-free. It’s effective against many insects that are common problems on warm nights, including sand fleas, gnats, and black flies. Several other quantity options are available for purchase, and each comes with a bonus travel-sized bottle that’s small enough to pack into your airplane carry-on bag or slide into a pocket.

Cons: You must reapply this mosquito repellent more frequently than most sprays require, about every two hours.

Bottom Line: The whole family deserves protection from mosquitos and other similar pests, including your furry friends, who are at as much risk of bites and diseases as you. If your dog loves to romp in the mosquito-infested backyard or if flies are constantly bothering your horses, this spray will help keep them, as well as you and your family, bug-free.


Best Candles

Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candles

These natural, citrusy candles will burn for hours and hours, providing you with protection from mosquitos and a pleasant aroma in the process.

Pros: This pair of 9-ounce candles will burn for up to 30 hours, providing long-lasting protection from mosquitos. Made with real citronella oil and similar essential oils that are a natural deterrent to mosquitos, they’re perfect for use on your patio, porch, deck, campsite, balcony, and picnic table. The lack of paraben, petroleum, and synthetic fragrances paired with the plant-based ingredients and the locally sourced soy wax and beeswax create an extremely pleasant aroma that isn’t overpowering. Each candle has a 10- to 12-foot protection radius, and if you light both candles at once, you can make a perimeter to protect yourself from flying insects. This will be even more effective if you buy the six-pack instead of the pair. You can also buy a single candle instead if you prefer.

Cons: Though effective against mosquitos, other bugs may be drawn to these candles’ natural, plant-based smells. Honeybees and flies, in particular, seem to enjoy the aroma as much as people do.

Bottom Line: Candles, especially citronella-based ones, are popular choices for keeping mosquitos away on porches or patios, and this pair is among the best out there. They have a pleasant yet not overpowering aroma and will last a long while, especially if you only use one candle at a time.


Best Value

OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Aerosol

This value pack of insect repellent is formulated with 25% DEET to protect against mosquitos and a wide range of other bugs.

Pros: This pack of OFF! Deep Woods insect repellent is formulated with 25% DEET, providing long-lasting protection—up to eight hours total—against not only mosquitos, flies, chiggers, ticks, and gnats. Yet despite its strong, powerful formula, this bug spray won’t stain your clothes when applied. It’ll also stay on even if you sweat during strenuous outdoor activities like hiking. The powder-dry formula won’t leave you feeling oily or greasy, and the aerosol can allows for easy application. And not only do you receive four bottles of spray with your purchase, but each is a good size (6 ounces per bottle), so you’ll get more for your money.

Cons: Since it contains DEET, this formula isn’t particularly gentle and will have a potent smell that may bother sensitive noses. Be careful if you apply it in your yard or garden, as it may harm or damage nearby plants that get caught in the crossfire.

Bottom Line: This spray from a well-known bug is ideal for those who love outdoor activities, such as hiking, hunting, camping, and fishing. If you’re after a heavy-duty formula or a mosquito repellent that’ll work on more than just mosquitos, this just might be the spray for you.

Final Thoughts

A good mosquito repellent will spare yourself, your friends, and your family the irritating itching and possibly even a bout of illness. Whether you’re going camping, planning a hike, or lounging on your porch or backyard on a warm, balmy night, you’ll want to keep some mosquito repellent on hand to enjoy yourself uninterrupted by these sneaky pests.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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