Warmer months bring killer barbecues, awesome playlists and delicious cocktails, plus a slew of new trends to adopt. On the flip side though, tiny creatures such as gnats, hornets and—worst of all—mosquitoes also come out to play. They bite you when you’re lounging outside, they’re at your heels when you go hiking and heaven forbid one gets stuck indoors and buzzes in your ear as you try to go to sleep! Put the kibosh on all that with one (or more) of the 15 best mosquito repellent products below.
How to Choose a Mosquito Repellent
When looking for the right mosquito repellent, you first have to consider the environment in which you’ll be using it. If you’re going camping, for example, you probably want a product that not only protects from mosquitoes but from other critters like ticks, biting flies and gnats. If you just need something to spray or lather as you hang out in your backyard, your choices will be different.
Another factor to consider is longevity. A repellent that has a higher percentage of active ingredient is the way to go if you’re going to be outdoors for several hours, while a product with a lower concentration is best if you’re going to be out for a short amount of time. (P.S. The CDC recommends you use a repellent that contains one of the EPA’s proven and safe active ingredients).
The 15 Best Mosquito Repellents at A Glance:
Best for spraying on lawns: Cutter Backyard Bug Control
Best for treating patios, decks and pools: Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller
Best for grassy areas: Ortho Home Defense Backyard Mosquito Killer Fogger
Best for both indoors and outdoors: Gootop Outdoor Mosquito Zapper
Best for short-term protection: Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks
Best for standing water: Mosquito Dunks By Summit
Best for camping, hiking and fishing trips: Greenerways Organic, Insect Repellent Bug Spray
Best for babies: California Baby Plant-Based Natural Bug Repellent Spray
Best for kids: All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor
Best for pets: Vet's Best Mosquito Repellent For Dogs And Cats
Best fragrance-free protection: Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
Best for sensitive skin: Medella Naturals Insect And Mosquito Repellent
Best for travel: Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm
Best for an excursion into the deep woods: Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Viii Dry
Best bug spray with SPF: Badger Spf 34 Anti-Bug Sunscreen Cream
Best for spraying on lawns
Pros: No mixing required, treats larges patches of lawn
Cons: Can be poisonous to pets and people if not aerated
Nothing is worse than throwing a barbecue in your yard on a nice summer’s day and then seeing your guests’ smiles turn to frowns as mosquitoes start to bite them. Spray this tried-and-true mosquito repellent on your lawn and you won’t have to worry about those little pests for up to 12 weeks. Note: While this spray is safe for pets, it’s highly recommended that pets (and people) stay away until the treated area has been properly ventilated, and the product has set.
Best for treating patios, decks and pools
Pros: Works fast and efficiently
Cons: Butane runs out pretty quickly
Mosquitoes love to hide in all your hangout spots, but this thermal shield promises a 15-foot zone of protection once you turn it on. It’s powered by a fuel cartridge—which means there are no cords or chunky batteries involved for easy transportation—and it comes with three unscented repellent mats, so there won’t be any lingering chemical smells.
Best for grassy areas
Pros: Easy to use, works on shrubs, bushes and grassy areas
Cons: Not pet-friendly
Get rid of pesky mosquitoes but also keep your greenery in tip-top shape with this fogging solution. It promises to kill mosquitoes that land on treated surfaces for up to eight hours, so you can throw a small event in your backyard knowing you’re totally covered. P.S. This fogger works on a wide range of pests—gnats, flies, horse flies and more—but it’s not pet-friendly, so make sure it doesn’t come in contact with any house animals.
Best for both indoors and outdoors
Pros: Super convenient and mobile, eco-friendly
Cons: Covers close perimeters only
Rain or sunshine, indoors or outdoors, this dynamic zapper will work anywhere you place it. Fitted with a 15-watt bulb to attract mosquitoes, you can mount it on the wall, suspend it from the ceiling or hang it on a tree branch. It also has a protective cage, so any tiny humans or four-legged family members won’t be injured if they accidentally knock it over.
Best for short-term protection
Pros: Smells good, easy to travel with, no harsh chemicals
Cons: Not as effective as other repellents
When you just want to relax in your backyard with a glass of wine and a good book, simply light one of these handy incense sticks to keep the mosquitoes at bay. With citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, cedar and peppermint oils, these incense sticks smell positively delightful and will only burn for two and a half hours (unlike other repellents where the scent can linger for days). They’re also a great pick for those who want to nix bugs without resorting to chemicals.
Best for killing mosquito eggs in rain barrels, birdbaths or standing water
Pros: Kills before mosquitoes hatch, pet-friendly
Cons: Doesn’t work on fully grown mosquitoes
Nix those blood-thirsty bugs before they hatch by exterminating mosquito eggs with these clever mosquito dunks. Made with BTI—a naturally occurring bacteria that’s toxic to mosquito eggs—simply place one of these dunks in any standing water and let it do its thing (i.e., killing mosquito larvae). And don’t worry, they’re totally harmless for pets, birds and honeybees.
Best for camping, hiking and fishing trips
Pros: DEET-free, hypoallergenic
Cons: Smell can be strong for some
Outdoorsy folks, this one’s for you: Greenerways insect spray is the perfect add-on to have when you embark on a weekend in the woods. Designed to be used on outdoor gear (such as clothing, tents, backpacks, etc.), you won’t have to worry for incessant buzzing as you spend the night in nature. Bonus: It’s USDA certified organic, non-GMO and pet-friendly.
Best for babies
Pros: Offers full body protection, no harsh chemicals
Cons: Needs constant reapplication
Specifically designed for babies six months and older, this plant-based spray made with lemongrass, cedar and citronella is safe for your tot’s delicate skin (no wonder it boasts over 600 five-star reviews on Amazon). The only downside is that you have to re-apply this spray every 20 to 30 minutes since it’s fast absorbing.
Best for kids
Pros: DEET-free, non-irritating, won’t spoil clothes
Cons: Strong smell
When summer rolls around, it’s hard to keep your kids indoors. Between the tree climbing, flower pressing and sprinkler play, mosquitoes and other bugs will surely put a damper on all those outdoor activities. This DEET-free, GMO free and non-irritating spray comes in a “family size” and is ideal for combatting bug bites to keep the fun going.
Best for pets
Pros: Uses natural ingredients
Cons: Can be a bit oily
Now that you’ve made sure that your human babies aren’t bitten to bits, you need to consider your furry babies. Rub or spray pets with this repellent that’s made with lemongrass oil and geraniol. Cats and dogs 12 weeks or older will happily stay bite-free.
Best fragrance-free protection
Pros: Non-greasy, long-lasting
Cons: Thick texture makes it harder to apply
For people with extra sensitive noses, this is an excellent choice. Sawyer Products’ repellent is fragrance-free, but it still promises long lasting protection—14 hours to be exact—against mosquitoes and it comes in both a spray and a lotion.
Best for sensitive skin
Pros: No oily residue, plant-based formula, smells good
Cons: Not as strong as other repellents
Not only does this spray contain lemongrass oil, a natural mosquito repellent, but it’s also infused with vitamin E, purified water, glycerin and castor oil (all soothing ingredients for delicate skin). And the hint of vanilla is just the thing to titillate your nostrils.
Best for travel
Pros: DEET-free, no synthetic fragrances
Cons: May smell too strongly for some
Travel is back in full swing now that the world has opened up again and that means you’re going to need some travel essentials that that go with you everywhere. Toss this two-ounce portable balm from Murphy’s Naturals into your toiletry bag and you don’t have to think about it again.
Best for an excursion into the deep woods
Pros: Easy application, kid-friendly
Cons: Contains some DEET
It won’t be effective against any scary wildlings you may run into such as coyotes or bears, but this repellent has your back when it comes to staving off mosquitoes and other critters like ticks, biting flies, gnats and chiggers.
Best bug spray with SPF
Pros: No synthetic chemicals, eco-friendly and biodegradable
Cons: Thick texture which makes it hard to apply, greasy
This spray performs double duty as both an effective bug spray and a protective sunscreen. The ideal choice for an early morning jog on the beach, hiking and other light sports, it’s also water- and sweat-resistant for at least 40 minutes and will repel mosquitoes for over four hours.
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