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How to buy a safer and more effective insect repellent

5 insect repellants to consider, according to reviewers and pros

Insect repellents can deter pests from nibbling, biting, stinging and, well, bugging you while you’re outdoors, but some insect repellents are safer than others, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which studies the safety and efficacy of a variety of consumers products. The group recommends people use repellants with one of three main ingredients: picaridin, DEET and IR3535: “Each of these active ingredients has low safety concerns and is highly effective at preventing bites from a variety of ticks and biting insects,” the organization writes in a report. Among the EWG’s recommended brands are: Sawyer Picardin ($8.70 on Amazon) and OFF! Family Care Clean Feel ($5.14 on Walmart).

You should also consider where you live to determine what repellent you might need: ”If you face a risk of Lyme or West Nile disease or other insect-borne illnesses, use a higher concentration bug repellent,” writes EWG. Consider a product with picaridin at a 10 to 20% concentration, DEET at a 7-30% concentration, and IR3535 at a 20% concentration,” David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG, tells MarketWatch. “Choose the higher concentration products for when you plan to spending longer periods of time outdoors.” Here are five specific insect repellents that pros and reviewers recommend.

Continue learning how to buy safe and effective insect repellent written bu Alisa Wolfson.

LAST UPDATED

May 5, 2022

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Sawyer Picaridin Continuous Spray is our pick for the best all-around bug spray. This long-lasting product repels mosquitoes and ticks for up to 12 hours while warding off biting flies, stable flies, black flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand flies for up to eight hours.

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