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The Best Bug Sprays and Insect Repellents, According to Ratings and Reviews

Spending time outdoors is a rite of passage during the summertime. Unfortunately, so are bug bites. And every summer, I peruse up and down the aisles of every store searching for a repellent that claims to be the best. What makes the best bug spray? Some bottles advertise DEET, some advertise without. Which one is sweat proof, safest for kids, and which one is going to leave a strong smell? These are the questions we all ask. And finally, we have some answers!

We’ve narrowed down the best bug spray to snag this summer that will, hopefully, keep your whole family bite free. Whether you’re camping deep in the woods for a weekend or maybe your kids spend their days outdoors playing ball, these repellents are highly rated and reviewed.

What is DEET?

You probably see a lot of bug sprays and insect repellents offering an amount of DEET, or no DEET at all. So, what's the difference? According to the American Mosquito Control Association, DEET (N-Diethyl-3-Methylbenzamide) is the most effective active ingredient in an insect repellent. A 10% DEET-based repellent will typically last 90 minutes or so whereas a repellent with 30% DEET will last 5-6 hours.

And if you’re worried about those little ones, the American Academy of Pediatrics claims products containing up to 30% DEET is safe for children. Anything above 30% is too much. If you're looking for DEET-free, the CDC and EPA also suggests looking for Picaridin spray, or those with oil of lemon-eucalyptus in them.

Read the full article by Anna Mahan on Country Living's website here.

LAST UPDATED

December 3, 2023

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Anna Mahan

Associate Commerce Editor

Anna Mahan is the Associate Commerce Editor for Country Living. She finds and shares a variety of the best lifestyle products, from fashion and beauty to cast iron skillets.

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Media Mentions

This repellent is easy to apply and effective without staining clothes.

Eating Well
Media Mentions from Eating Well

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Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent uses 20 percent picaridin to protect against ticks, mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, and other biting insects. It provides up to 12 hours of protection, so a little bit goes a long way.

Maggie Slepian

Media Mentions

Sawyer’s 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent delivers long-lasting protection against pesky insects like mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and gnats. Formulated with 20% picaridin — an odorless, non-greasy alternative to DEET — you can count on this spray to provide up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitos and eight hours against other bugs.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman