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The Best Bug Repellents

Everyone should avoid bug bites, which are annoying at best and debilitating (or even lethal) in worst-case scenarios.

For a bug repellent that’s safe and effective—and that won’t stink or leave a puddle of oil on your skin—skip the DEET and get a picaridin formula, like Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent. It’s the best bottle of bug spray we found after testing 23 repellents and talking to everyone from the EPA to the American Mosquito Control Association.

How we picked

  • EPA approval - EPA-approved repellents have undergone extensive safety and efficacy testing and can be trusted.
  • 20% picaridin - Most of our recommendations use a 20% concentration of picaridin, which offers long-lasting repellency for ticks and mosquitoes with none of DEET’s downsides.
  • Testing, within limits - We test our picks for usability, as opposed to efficacy, because the variables of environment, physiology, and bug behavior affect performance.
  • Spray matters - The best repellents have a nice, even spray that is easy to apply. The worst ones are spitty and messy, and can overspray or puddle up.

You can find the full article with Wirecutter's top repellent reconmendations, written by Doug Mahoney here.


October 22, 2023

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Doug Mahoney


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Sawyer Insect Repellent is a versatile picaridin spray recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as safe and effective for most people. Our testers liked the evaporating smell and how the spray feels once it dries.

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Insects and arachnids that bite in self-defense instead of to feed -- such as yellow jackets, bees, wasps, hornets, certain ants or spiders -- cannot be repelled with insect repellents.
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