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The 9 Best Bug Repellents of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Protective sprays, lotions, and lanterns that actually work

When spending time outdoors, bug repellent is an essential product to have on hand. But to ensure that you keep away the insects bothering you the most, you have to choose the right product.

"Keep in mind that not all repellents will work the same on different insects," says Emily Mader, a public health researcher at the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (NEVBD). "Your product label will let you know if the repellent is effective against mosquitoes, flies, and/or ticks."

With that in mind, we tested 12 different products to find the best bug repellents for any situation. We purchased formulas with the most common active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, and IR3535, to determine which bug sprays work the best. We put every formula to the test in real-world environments, like backyard get-togethers, park outings, beach days, and camping in the woods. While all of the bug sprays we evaluated provided adequate protection against bug bites, we found that the best repellent ultimately came down to personal preferences for ingredients, fragrance, and skin feel.

All of the products were compared based on important features like how easy it is to apply the repellent, how long it remains effective, and whether it has a perceptible odor. Based on our testing and research, here are the best bug repellents to keep insects at bay.

Here are the best bug repellants, written by Erica Puisis.


March 5, 2024

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Erica Puisis

Erica Puisis writes about home products for The Spruce and specializes in interior design and plant care. She's contributed to Forbes and smart home blogs like Smart Home Solver and TechDigg.

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