The Best Bug Sprays and Insect Repellents, According to Ratings and Reviews
Spending time outdoors is a rite of passage during the summertime. Unfortunately, so are bug bites. And every summer, I peruse up and down the aisles of every store searching for a repellent that claims to be the best. What makes the best bug spray? Some bottles advertise DEET, some advertise without. Which one is sweat proof, safest for kids, and which one is going to leave a strong smell? These are the questions we all ask. And finally, we have some answers!
We’ve narrowed down the best bug spray to snag this summer that will, hopefully, keep your whole family bite free. Whether you’re camping deep in the woods for a weekend or maybe your kids spend their days outdoors playing ball, these repellents are highly rated and reviewed.
What is DEET?
You probably see a lot of bug sprays and insect repellents offering an amount of DEET, or no DEET at all. So, what's the difference? According to the American Mosquito Control Association, DEET (N-Diethyl-3-Methylbenzamide) is the most effective active ingredient in an insect repellent. A 10% DEET-based repellent will typically last 90 minutes or so whereas a repellent with 30% DEET will last 5-6 hours.
And if you’re worried about those little ones, the American Academy of Pediatrics claims products containing up to 30% DEET is safe for children. Anything above 30% is too much. If you're looking for DEET-free, the CDC and EPA also suggests looking for Picaridin spray, or those with oil of lemon-eucalyptus in them.
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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.
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.
The number of bug-borne diseases is increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the number of places they're spreading to is also on the rise.
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