Best Mosquito Repellents

By Sigmund Daughty, Expert Reviewer for Repellent Guide

published: Aug 01, 2017 | updated: Aug 01, 2017

There are many ways to avoid mosquito bites, using over the counter mosquito repellent sprays and creams, natural repellents, citronella candles and simple lifestyle changes. The kind of mosquito repellent for you depends on the danger the mosquitoes pose in your location and whether you want a solution with out putting sprays or creams on your skin. If are you in a Malaria, Dengue fever or Zikka virus area then you shouldn't be taking any chances - the consquences of being bitten can be deadly, in these areas opt for a strong DEET cream or spray and cover all exposed skin. Any worries about the safety of DEET should be out weighed by the risks of getting bitten and contracting potentially fatal Malaria or Dengue fever.

If you live in an area with out these serious mosquito spread diseases then you may consider the other less effective options that don't use DEET.

In terms of the basic types of mosquito repellents available, there are mosquito repellent candles, mosquito repellent sprays for your body and mosquito repellent behaviors that you can adopt to help keep you and your family bite-free. Here is a brief overview of tips to avoid being bitten:

  1. Candles

    Mosquito repellent candles are popular ways to repel mosquitoes from a general vicinity, such as a porch or a pool area. Mosquito repellent candles are generally peppermint or citronella candles, but any candle that assumes the scent of a mosquito repellent chemical or plant will do. In order for the mosquito repellent candles to be effective, it is important that they give off a scent that coats the entire space that you are working and living in.

  2. Sprays

    Most people use mosquito repellent sprays in order to keep the mosquitoes away. DEET is the most common chemical that is used in these sprays. However, if you wish to stay natural, then look for a spray that contains peppermint oil, rosemary oil or castor oil. These scents and plants will repel most common mosquitoes without much of a problem. However, because the spray will be absorbed by your skin and because you will work it off, it is important to continue to apply the mosquito repellent spray to your skin and clothing regularly.

  3. Wear light colored clothing

    Mosquitoes are attracted to certain types of human behavior. Mosquitoes are drawn to dark clothing because they confuse the clothing with vegetation. Wearing light colored clothing can make it harder for mosquitoes to see you on the horizon.

  4. Avoid Sweating

    Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat, try to keep cool and avoid sweating.

  5. Avoid Exercise

    Avoid exerting yourself during dusk when mosquitoes are hunting since they will be especially drawn to you if you sweat and breath heavily.

  6. Avoid Perfumes

    Mosquitoes are also drawn to fruity scents, such as those in hair spray and in certain perfumes so avoid certain perfumes in the evening when the mosquitoes are biting.

  7. Be more cautious at dusk

    Be careful during the peak feeding time from dusk to dawn, especially for the first hour after sun down. Try covering up with clothes and using repellents on bare skin at these times.

  8. Avoid stagnant water

    Keep away from or remove if possible any places with standing water such ponds, drainage ditches and even buckets around the home. Standing water attracts mosquitoes.

  9. Avoid alcohol

    Avoid drinking alcohol as studies have shown a significant the attraction of mosquitoes after the consumption of beer.

Wrist bands

Mosquito repellent wrist bands are ideal for kids, since you don't need to re-apply the repellent at intervals and the repellent is not in contact with the skin - so worries about too much DEET or other chemical exposure are not a problem.

Repellent scent devices

There are several devices that are either battery powered or gas powered that release a repellent odor into the air and usually cover an area such as a camping site or porch / barbeque area. These are convenient because no repellent need be applied to any one in your group, a bonus for social gatherings or camping outings.

DEET vs other repellent types

DEET is still considered the most powerful form of mosquito repellent and the longest lasting. In a recent scientific test DEET based repellents were compared to the alternatives. The conclusion was that DEET repellents lasted the longest and were most effective. However some other repellents were almost equally as effective for shorter periods - so if you re-applied them regularly every hour they were a good alternative to DEET. The following were tested:

  1. Repel 100 insect repellent, DEET (98.11%), time 10h
  2. OFF deep woods insect repellent VIII, DEET (25%)
  3. Cutter skinsations insect repellent, DEET (7.0%)
  4. Cutter natural insect repellent, Geraniol (5%), Soybean oil (2%) time 2h
  5. EcoSmart organic insect repellent, Geraniol (1.0%), Rosemary oil (0.5%), Cinnamon oil (0.5%), Lemongrass oil (0.5%), time 2h
  6. Cutter lemon eucalyptus insect repellent, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (30%), 65% p-menthane-3-8-diol, time 6h
  7. Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard, Oil of citronella (10%), time 2h
  8. Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil
  9. Victoria Secret Bombshell Fragrance
  10. Mosquito skin patch, Thiamin B1 (300mg), time 36h

Of the non-DEET repellents Cutter lemon eucalyptus insect repellent was found particularly effective, it repelled 90% of mosquitoes for the first 2 hours of application and then still gave over 80% protection for up to 4 hours. This performance is comparable to the best of the DEET repellents. The most surprising result from the test was that Victoria Secret Bomshell fragrance gave 80% protection for the first 2 hours - contrary to the common belief that fragrances can attract mosquitoes. The worst performing repellent was infact the Mosquito skin patch, which appeared to offer no protection, though this may have been due to the test set up that was used.

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