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Why Essential Oils Make Terrible Bug Repellents

We get it: Essential-oil bug repellents sound great. Who wouldn’t want to use a natural plant oil to keep bugs away? But after digging into the research and talking to two mosquito experts, we put essential-oil repellents firmly in the “do not buy” category. Simply speaking, there’s just no way to know how effective they are or for how long. In relying on them, you’re likely heading outdoors with a false sense of security that could put you at greater risk than if you were using nothing at all.

In light of diseases such as Zika and Lyme, the consequences of an ineffective repellent can be dire, so you need one you can trust. A repellent’s trustworthiness starts with EPA approval—a requirement that proves the repellent has been thoroughly tested to confirm that it’s safe and that it performs according to the specifics from the manufacturer. Essential oils have no such standardized oversight, so you’re basically on your own.

Read the full article by Doug Mahoney on Wirecutter's website here.

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December 3, 2023

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Wirecutter

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Wirecutter’s mission is to recommend what really matters. Each year, we independently test and review thousands of products to help you find just what you need. Our goal is to save you time and eliminate the stress of shopping, whether you’re looking for everyday gear or gifts for loved ones.

We strive to be the most trusted product recommendation service around, and we work with total editorial independence. We won’t post a recommendation unless our writers and editors have deemed something the best through rigorous reporting and testing.

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