10 Top Insect and Mosquito Repellents

Protect against West Nile Virus, Zika, and other mosquito-borne and insect-borne illnesses with insect repellent when walking outdoors. The Center for Disease Control recommends mosquito repellent with 5 percent to 50 percent DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), as the best insect repellent for West Nile Virus mosquitoes. Over 50 percent DEET provides no further protection and can damage some fabrics. For children under two months of age, it is best to avoid DEET and to limit the concentration to under 30 percent for older children.


Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent

Off! Deep Woods Pump Spray
Off! Deep Woods Pump Spray. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

You can find Off! in a pump, aerosol spray, or towelettes. Check to see what the concentration of DEET is for each. If it is too concentrated, it can damage fabrics. You may be able to find unscented versions, which many people prefer. As this repellent contains DEET, it should not be used on children under two months of age. For older children, the DEET concentration should be 10 percent to 30 percent ​and no higher.


Repel Tick Defense Unscented Aerosol

Repel Tick Defense Unscented Aerosol
Repel Tick Defense Unscented Aerosol. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

At last, this repellent is just about perfect. It is truly odorless 15 percent picaridin. It really works. It doesn't eat through your fabric like DEET so that you can spray it on clothing. It is also unscented, which is a huge advantage for those of us sensitive to perfumes. Picaridin is considered to be safe for children.


Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent 20-Percent Picaridin Pump Spray

Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin
Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

If you prefer a pump spray, Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent 20-Percent Picaridin Pump Spray has both a 3-ounce size and a 0.5-ounce size that you can carry along in your pack. These are worth stocking up on for your outdoor adventures. Picaridin is safe for children.


Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Spray

Avon Skin-So-Soft Plus
Courtesy of Amazon.com

People went bug-nutty over Avon Skin-So-Soft when they noticed insect repellent effects. They have a variety of DEET-free formulas, including those with sunscreen SPF 30 and those that contain picaridin and are safe for children. However, most types of Skin-So-Soft include scent that may trigger allergies for some people. Some of the formulations include picaridin and don't have a perfume scent. Check the ingredients for eucalyptus oil and avoid those products for children under the age of 3 years.


Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus uses natural oils from the eucalyptus citriodora tree. It is gentle to the skin, and won't harm fabrics or surfaces. It repels mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, midges, stable flies and more for up to six hours. However, the FDA recommends not using eucalyptus oil for children under the age of 3 years.


Mosquito Head Net

Coghlans Mosquito Head Net
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you are in a heavily-infested mosquito area, a head net may be the only way to fend them off - or to not inhale them. While it can be annoying to have to walk with a head net on, it beats itching for days.


Ex Officio BugsAway Clothing and Gear

ExOfficio Women BugsAway Shirt
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Sick and tired of spraying all the time? Now the BugsAway insect repellent finish is incorporated into all kinds of excellent outdoor clothing and activewear. These garments are odorless and made of great technical fabrics for all of your active outdoors needs. The repellent effect remains through dozens of washings. You can find shirts, pants, jackets, socks, scarves, and hats for men and women. The Insect Shield repellent is made with permethrin, which is considered safe for children.


Permethrin Tick Repellent for Clothing and Gear

Sawyer Permethrin Clothing, Gear and Tent Spray
Sawyer Permethrin Clothing, Gear and Tent Spray. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

The CDC recommends permethrin-based repellents for clothing and gear. Spray this on your outdoor clothing, hat, shoes, etc. and the mosquito and tick protection lasts for a couple of weeks, even with washing. It is also useful for travelers who are concerned about bed bugs. Many walkers on the Camino de Santiago spray their bedding and packs with permethrin to ward off the bed bugs.


Haeleum Shirts

This brand also features activewear clothing for athletes, including men, women, and youth. The Insect Shield repellent technology is based on permethrin and is considered safe for all ages and is registered with the EPA. The long-sleeved women's Lyft shirt is made of soft fabric and dries very fast when hand-washed it and air-dried, such as during a walking vacation. The repellent should last through 70 launderings. It also has SPF 50 sun rating. The advantage of the brand is that designs are suitable for runners, walkers, and hikers. The insect-repellent finish is on good technical shirts that wick away sweat.


Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner With Insect Shield

Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield
Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield. Courtesy of Amazon

If you don't want to be bothered while you sleep, this sleeping bag liner/bed sack can keep away insects including bed bugs, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. It has Insect Shield, which includes permethrin. It packs up small to take along. It's a great sleep sack to use on trips where you not only might fear the flying insects, but you also are worried about bed bugs. Permethrin is considered safe for children as well as adults.


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  • Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Emergency Preparedness - Insect Repellent Use and Safety in Children. U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085277.htm