Enjoy outdoor summer activities safely with the best tick repellents

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A person using tick repellent to ward off insects
A person using tick repellent to ward off insects

The summer months are ideal for outdoor activities such as trekking, having a cook-out in the park, and hitting the trail for a run. While spending time in nature gets you moving and can help improve your mood, it also comes with a certain level of risk, like getting sunburned, heatstroke, and being bitten by more bugs than you can count. But don't let the fear of these blood-sucking creatures keep you inside all summer. You can avoid insect bites if you take the correct precautions, such as using effective tick repellents and checking your entire body after being outside. We reviewed and compiled a list of the top tick repellents for 2022 to help you select one that meets all your needs, and make it so you don’t have to compromise on your outdoor activities because you’re afraid of ticks.

Top Picks

Best overall: Spectrum Unscented Tick Repellent

Unscented tick repellent from Repel
Unscented tick repellent from Repel

This tick repellent by Spectrum helps keep ticks and mosquitoes away for up to 10 hours, giving you long-lasting protection while you experience the great outdoors. You can use this option on your body to help keep mosquitoes, ticks, and flies from biting you. You can also put this product, made with 15% picaridin, on your clothes for better coverage. The aerosol doesn't have a scent either, and it protects well and feels light on the skin, so you can concentrate on your outdoor activities. This option is the best overall on this list because it's odorless and safe to use on clothes, making it excellent for repelling ticks in the summer.

Key Features:

  • Offers 10 hours of protection

  • Odorless, effective spray

  • Safe to use on clothes

Most eco-friendly: Tick Ban Yaya Organic Tick Repellent

All natural extra strength tick repellent
All natural extra strength tick repellent

This organic tick repellant is completely natural and suitable for almost everyone. It is ideal for families and individuals worried about the potential side effects of overusing DEET. This spray is made in the United States using plant-based components. Its main ingredients are organic essential oils that are safe for children and dogs. If you are concerned about the negative effects of DEET on your body, this is a wonderful choice. The option also has a lovely herbal scent and doesn’t give off an oily feel like DEET. This product is easy to apply too, and the bottle releases just the right amount of spray with every squeeze.

Key Features:

  • Plant-based ingredients

  • Light and fresh herbal scent

  • Safety-lock protection for kids

Best protection: Sawyer Permethrin Tick Repellent

A premium tick repellent for clothing
A premium tick repellent for clothing

Sawyer’s repellent is highly effective against more than 55 species of insects, including disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes. This odorless spray provides powerful protection against mosquitoes and ticks and is made with permethrin, so it should only be used on clothing. This option works just as well as 100 % DEET, but without all the negative side effects. When sprayed directly on your clothes, the protection will last for up to six weeks. One of the greatest things about this spray is that it works up to six times after washing your clothes. Using it on your clothing won't stain or damage it either, and two full outfits can be treated using just one 12-ounce bottle.

Key Features:

  • Comes in a pump-spray bottle or an aerosol propeller

  • Odorless and safe for clothing

  • Skin-friendly formula

Best safety: Ranger Ready Repellents Tick Repellent

A scent zero deet-free tick repellent
A scent zero deet-free tick repellent

This tick repellent form Ranger Ready is an effective, odorless bug spray containing 20% picaridin that is safe to use on clothing and equipment. This option is ideal for people who enjoy camping or hiking. Mosquito and tick bites are unpleasant and can even be fatal. When you're out and about, this product will help keep you safe. It provides 12-hour protection against ticks and mosquitoes and eight-hour protection against flies, gnats, and other insects. It's DEET-free too and is safe for children, adults, and pregnant people. This spray dries quickly after application and doesn't stain or harm clothing, plastics, finished surfaces, or other outdoor equipment. It is a 360-degree, long-lasting mist that provides effective protection from ticks.

Key Features:

  • Non-greasy and unscented

  • DEET-free and quick drying

  • 360-degree mist spray

Most skin-friendly: Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

A lemon eucalyptus oil tick repellent
A lemon eucalyptus oil tick repellent

Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is a plant-based bug spray that combines eucalyptus oil and lemon to create a safe, pleasant-smelling product. The spray’s all-natural, non-toxic and non-damaging compounds are also safe for the skin. The compact, pump spray is both easy to use and non-sticky and the fresh lemon aroma is nice but not overpowering. For children ages three and up, a single application gives six hours of protection. This product does not include colors, synthetic perfumes, or other harsh chemicals and is also DEET-free. And this spray contains no dyes or harsh components and won’t affect your gear or clothing.

Key Features:

  • Made of plant-based ingredients

  • Gives six hours of protection

  • Skin and gear friendly

How to find your next tick repellent: A buyer's guide

If you live in an area with a ton of mosquitoes, ticks, or both, it's important to protect yourself from the diseases these bugs can carry. The number of diseases mosquitoes and ticks can spread has grown in the last few decades, too. So, not only is choosing the right insect repellent critical, you also need to use it properly. There are plenty of good options out there, like the ones we discussed above, and here are some tips to keep yourself safe from ticks and other bugs.

Protecting yourself from tick bites

The best way to avoid getting bitten by ticks is to know where they are likely to be and take precautions when you are in those places. Make sure you have the right gear, clothes, and tick repellent before you venture into those places. After that, you have to stay away from tick hot spots, reapply tick spray when you need to, and keep an eye out for ticks as you go. Here are some things you can do to better protect yourself:

Think about your environment and risks

For people who enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities in the woods and mountains, you're in prime tick territory. When it comes to ticks, they like regions with a lot of vegetation and high humidity. So, try to stay on well-traveled walking paths.

Pick the right tick repellent

You can't just spray any tick repellent on and expect it to last all day. While shopping, consider that many natural products have components like essential oils that may affect ticks but typically do not last very long and are not nearly as powerful as active ingredients like DEET. It is best to use picaridin, which is an artificial form of a chemical extracted from black pepper.

Tips for using tick repellent

  • Only put repellent on skin or clothing that is showing (as directed on the product label). Do not use it on under clothing.

  • Use only enough to cover the area and only for as long as necessary, higher doses may not work any better and can increase hazards.

  • If you have a cut, wound or irritated skin, don't use insect repellents. Use a small amount around your ears and avoid your eyes and lips while applying it to your face.

  • Do not allow kids to apply these products. Instead, rub it on your hands and apply it to them. Since children commonly put their hands in their eyes and mouths, limit their use on their hands.

  • Keep repellent away from food and wash your hands after using it, as well as before eating or drinking.

  • Use soap and water to wash treated skin at the end of the day, and wash your clothing in a separate wash cycle.

The benefits of using tick repellent

1. Repelling ticks

The primary reason people use tick repellent is to repel ticks. Ticks can get on your body without you realizing it. If you're hiking in the woods or going through grassy fields, you're extremely likely to pick up a tick or two. Covering yourself up isn't always a great idea while hiking either, it can leave you dehydrated and overheated, so you'll need something extra to keep the ticks at bay. Tick repellents allow you to keep ticks away without needing to wear heavy leggings and a sweater every time you leave the house. They're also simple to apply and often available in spray bottles, so you only need a few seconds to get covered.

2. Pleasant fragrance

Some tick repellents, especially ones with natural ingredients, have a pleasant scent. Organic tick repellents frequently contain lemon, cedar oil, lavender, peppermint, and other components.

3. Repelling other insects

Tick repellents can also work against other insects, such as mosquitoes, depending on the formula. These bug repellents can provide all-around protection against disease-carrying arachnids and insects, allowing you to stay healthy. They are especially handy for using outside, where a variety of pests and critters live. It's worth noting that not many tick repellents offer bug protection. Check the product’s package for information on its effectiveness against other insects.

People also asked

Q: Are my natural tick repellents as effective as ones with chemicals?

A: Natural tick repellents are just as effective as ones with chemicals, but some chemical repellents are also safe to use. You can apply products with 20 to 30% DEET, or 20% picaridin, for the most effective protection against ticks.

Q: Is tick repellant safe?

A: Ticks are effectively repelled by insect repellents containing DEET and picaridin. DEET is readily available and believed to be safe for most people, but it has been linked to unpleasant effects in more sensitive individuals — and if it’s applied to synthetic fabrics, it can potentially cause damage.

Q: Does DEET prevent tick bites?

A: DEET-based insect repellents are 85 to 89 % effective against ticks and insects, products containing this chemical can definitely help repel ticks from your skin.