Here are the best insect repellents of 2024

ByHeather Grubola and Nydia Han WPVI logo
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Here are the best insect repellents of 2024
Here are the best insect repellents of 2024

A bug bite can leave more than just an itchy bump. Mosquitoes can spread diseases like the West Nile virus, and ticks can transmit many diseases, including Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Consumer Reports explains that the best offense is a good defense, which includes using insect repellent that keeps pests away.

Every year, Consumer Reports tests lotions, sprays, and wipes, including plant-based repellents, on real people using real mosquitoes to find the best insect repellents.

A repellent fails if a mosquito bites twice in one 5-minute session. Or if there's one bite in each of two consecutive 5-minute sessions.

CR currently tests repellents against only mosquitoes, but in past years, it has found that repellents that work well against mosquitoes also tend to work well against ticks.

The results: the most effective repellents against mosquitoes and ticks contain 25% to 30% deet as their active ingredient.

Deet is the active ingredient in many repellent products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At the top of CR's ratings, Ben's Tick & Insect Repellent Wipes, Ben's Tick & Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump, and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8 all excel in protection.

If you're concerned about using deet, consider this: CR's ratings include over 50 repellents and more than 20 recommended ones, so it should be easy to find a way to beat the bugs that are right for you.

CR found products with 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus as good alternatives, like Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Pump.

CR's ratings also have a few high scorers that contain 20% picaridin, like the Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent Pump.

Correctly applying the repellent is just as important as the kind you use. Follow the directions on the label, and use a thin coat on all exposed skin.

You can also spray it on top of your clothes but don't apply it under your clothing.

WATCH | How CR tests insect repellents

WATCH | How CR tests insect repellents