Check out any pharmacy or sporting goods store, or browse online, and you’re sure to find a dizzying array of insect repellents, all claiming to thwart pesky – and sometimes dangerous – bugs like mosquitoes and ticks. But do they all work? Consumer Reports expert testing reveals that some repellents are much better and more effective than others.
With a quick internet search, you can find easy DIY homemade insect repellent concoctions.
And while the idea of using a repellent with more natural ingredients might sound appealing, Consumer Reports has a warning: The risks are just not worth it.
Mosquitoes and ticks spread dangerous diseases like West Nile and Lyme, so it’s super important you use an insect repellent that actually works.
“Homemade repellents haven’t been tested for efficacy or safety. So there’s no guarantee that they’ll work,” Catherine Roberts, a science journalist with Consumer Reports said. “And ingredients like essential oils can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.”
For years, Consumer Reports has tested many varieties of insect repellents, including many with natural ingredients. Each time the results are similar: The most effective repellents include those that contain 25 to 30% deet.
Consumer Reports tests also found that some non-deet repellents, like those that contain 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus or 20% picaridin, worked too – though not as consistently as deet.”
Two repellents that Consumer Reports recommends: 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8 and Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump. Both provide excellent protection based on Consumer Reports’ rigorous tests.
And how about repellent alternatives that you don’t put on your skin that claim to keep the bugs away? When it comes to citronella candles, wristbands, and sonic repellents – there’s just very little evidence that shows that any of these really work.