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Best insect repellent: bug sprays, lotions, wipes, essential oils

Don’t let pests run—or ruin—your life. The best insect repellent will keep your skin protected and ward off bug-borne illnesses.

Whether we’re in the middle of nature or in the comfort of our own homes, rude, biting bugs can wreak havoc on humans and pets, like scores of Davids going up against a single Goliath. Effective bug control begins with the best insect repellent. It’s a proactive way to keep the critters away before they leave their mark on our sensitive skin or do more serious damage. But it can be overwhelming to browse through rows of sprays, lotions, wipes, bracelets and even electronic insect repellent. We’re here to help you find the repellents that really, genuinely work.

  • Best DEET insect repellent: OFF! Deep Woods Insect & Mosquito Repellent
  • Best picaridin insect repellent: Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
  • Best babies insect repellent: Cutter Mosquito Wipes
  • Best insect repellent for dogs: Wondercide Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray
  • Also great: Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller

What to look for in the best insect repellent

So how do you go about choosing the best insect repellent your money can buy? There’s a wide variety, which vary in effectiveness, application style, and whether their effects are scientifically proven. (Mosquito repellent bracelets, for example, are an option, but experts are not unanimously sold on their effectiveness.) Read more about what insect repellents work best for you written by Jeremy Helligar here.

LAST UPDATED

May 5, 2022

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Popular Science

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Popular Science has been demystifying the worlds of science and technology since 1872. We explain the inner workings of the phone in your pocket, explore world-changing innovations, and examine everything from the marvels of deep space to the secret lives of staples like bread. We deliver an engaging, approachable, and inclusive look at emerging technologies and scientific advances. Daily, PopSci unpacks the science behind the top current news stories, dissects the latest technology and digital trends, and helps readers life smarter, safer, and happier through clever DIY projects.

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My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick

MEDIA MENTIONS

Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz
Writer

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere