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The best bug sprays in 2021

Cutter, Proven, Natrapel and more: the best insect repellents for every outdoor summer need.

Summer's right around the corner and already here in some parts of the world (hello from 90-degree Miami). In a lot of places, hot weather means bugs. I'm talking mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, gnats, biting flies and no-see-ums. Yuck. (And ouch and itch.)

Having grown up in Louisiana and now living in Florida, I've spent a lifetime dousing my skin and clothes in insect repellent. Bug spray is a staple in the south, to say the least.

If you plan on spending any time outdoors this summer, and especially if you plan to go camping or visit any marshy areas, it's best to go prepared with insect repellent. These are some of the best bug sprays available right now, as determined by my testing of more than 20 products in the South Florida heat.

Best insect repellent for clothes and gear

Sawyer permethrin aerosol and pump spray insect repellent

I'm obsessed with these permethrin insect repellents from Sawyer. I sprayed all of my fabric patio furniture and the tarp covering my home gym equipment. Permethrin is an insect repellent designed for clothes and gear -- it is not to be used on the skin or on clothes while you're wearing them. Seriously, heed the safety instructions.

The aerosol permethrin creates a nice wide, even, fast spray. I coated my outdoor furniture with this easily in a few seconds. The pump spray is less convenient, but still good.

While the bottles say the product is odorless, I noticed a slight odor while using the sprays. It smelled similar to spray paint, but far less potent. These bottles aren't something I'd want to travel with -- they're rather large -- so I would recommend spraying your gear before you head out for a camping trip or other outdoor adventure.

Sawyer's permethrin spray lasts up to six weeks or through six washes.

Head here to learn more about Amanda Capritto's best bug sprays for 2021.


December 3, 2023

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