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Consumer Reports BEST mosquito repellents

Are DEET-free brands just as good?
Posted at 10:16 AM, Jun 20, 2019

With the record-breaking rain in the Cincinnati area in recent weeks, millions of mosquitoes are expected to hatch in the days ahead -- especially with warmer night weather making the ground damp enough for perfect breeding spots.

And mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of insect-borne diseases is increasing. Wearing an effective insect repellent is an important step against mosquitoes and ticks that can spread diseases like West Nile and Lyme.

So our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine tested 37 different repellents for 2019, and have published their findings about which ones work best to ward off pests.

DEET and DEET-free repellents tested

Consumer Reports tests repellents that contain DEET or other active chemical ingredients, like picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

To see how effective each repellent is, Consumer Reports enlisted panelists willing to stick their arms into cages filled with disease-free mosquitoes.

Earlier years of testing have shown that if a repellent does well against mosquitoes, it generally does well against ticks as well.

So which repellents work best? Here’s the good news. It’s not about which brands performed better, but more about the concentration of the active ingredients.

Testers found that concentrations of DEET at 25 to 30 percent are really the best to keep you protected.

Top rated brands

  • Off Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent IV Dry with 25 percent DEET performed excellent against mosquitoes.
  • Ben's was named a Consumer Reports Best Buy, due to its lower price. They recommend Ben’s with 30 percent DEET.
  • Repel Insect Repellent Mosquito Wipes with 30 percent DEET were the top rated wipes.

Many parents worry that DEET might not be safe, but there’s a lot of evidence to show that when you follow the directions on the label and you use it properly, DEET is very effective and safe, Consumer Reports says.

Consumer Reports also tested repellents that use natural ingredients like citronella, peppermint and soybean oil to keep pests away.

Unfortunately those products performed poorly in the magazine's lab tests, compared with DEET-based products.

As always, don't waste your money.


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