The Best Insect Repellents of 2019

Table of Contents

I’m all about loving God’s creatures, but I make an exception for bugs. Whether it’s annoying flies that won’t leave my room, mosquitoes that use my body as their personal buffet, or ticks that could potentially cause Lyme disease, I want to keep bugs as far away from me as possible. Of course, I also don’t want to inhale any harsh chemicals or do damage to our environment. Does an effective and safe insect repellent exist? The answer, my friends, is a resounding yes. After testing out tens of insect repellents, these are the best options on the market. Let’s get started!

Best Insect Repellents

Editor’s Pick
Repel Insect Repellent
Repel Insect Repellent
Repel Insect Repellent

With a super high concentration of DEET plus picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, Repel Insect Repellent offers layers of protection from mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, and more. 

Doesn't expire

Top Contender
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent

Available in lotion or spray form, the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion uses DEET, originally developed by the United States Army to protect them from mosquitoes in Central American jungles. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Home
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent

This spray can last for up to 12 hours and won't damage the fabrics in your home, perfect for repelling ticks, chiggers, flies, and more. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Kids
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Rather than using harsh chemicals like many insect repellents, the Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller uses electromagnetic waves to keep your kids both bug-free and safe from inhaling anything harmful. 

Doesn't expire

Best For Backyard
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer

This insect repellent comes in the form of an outdoor lantern which covers either 1/2 an acre or an acre, ideal for backyard use. 

Doesn't expire

Editor’s Pick

Repel Insect Repellent

The Repel Insect Repellent has the two most common ingredients used in insect repellents, DEET and picaridin, in high concentrations. Both are effective at warding off insects without any negative health effects, leaving you healthy as well as bug-free. 

Pros: Whether you’re infested with mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, chiggers, biting flies, or fleas, the Repel Insect Repellent works on them all. It offers eight hours of protection and has a shelf life of several years. Plus, this package comes with two bottles with 14.2 ounces of spray each, so it should last you quite some time. 

Cons: The Repel Insect Repellent might damage leather, synthetic fabric, plastics, watch crystals, or painted or varnished surfaces. 

Shop Amazon
Repel Insect Repellent
Repel Insect Repellent
Repel Insect Repellent

With a super high concentration of DEET plus picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, Repel Insect Repellent offers layers of protection from mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, and more. 

Top Contender

3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent

Mosquitoes and flies and gnats, oh my! Aside from those terrible three, the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent also protects against ticks, chiggers, fleas, deer flies, and gnats. 

Pros: For an incredibly low price, you can get the same bug repellent used by the United States army, namely the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent. It uses DEET, a common ingredient in insect repellents with no adverse health effects. Spray or rub it on yourself to get 12 hours of protection from pests (although sadly, it can’t do anything about human pests). 

Cons: The 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent leaves a sticky residue, making me feel a little bit greasy

Shop Amazon
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent

Available in lotion or spray form, the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion uses DEET, originally developed by the United States Army to protect them from mosquitoes in Central American jungles. 

Best For Home

Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent

Whether your home has mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, chiggers or sand flies, they’re no match for the Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent. It’s made with 20% picaridin, verified by the Environmental Protection Agency to be safe for your home. 

Pros: Without damaging the fabric of your rugs, curtains, and cushions, the Products Premium Insect Repellent will keep biting flies, gnats, chiggers and sand flies away for eight hours and mosquitoes and ticks away for 12! It’s fine for kids from ages six months to 12 years, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine and travel. Plus, it’s super affordable at less than half the price of the industry average. 

Cons: The Products Premium Insect Repellent isn’t sweat or splash resistant, so if you have a spill at home, it may wash off some of the repellent. 

Related: The Best Home Security Systems of 2019 

Shop Amazon
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent

This spray can last for up to 12 hours and won't damage the fabrics in your home, perfect for repelling ticks, chiggers, flies, and more. 

Best For Kids

Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

As a parent, finding a bug repellent for your kid can be a bit difficult, especially with the amount of harsh chemicals typically used in sprays. Mom and Dad, meet the Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller, which uses electromagnetic waves rather than chemicals to keep your kids bug-free. 

Pros: This package comes with a whopping six different repellers that plug into a wall. Each covers an area of 1,600 square feet, so it should be more than enough to cover your home and garden. The Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller are ideal whether you have mosquitos, rats, bugs, cockroaches, spiders, ants, and all the other creatures that give me nightmares on a monthly basis. 

Cons: The Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller could take three to four weeks to work and may initially increase the amounts of pests in the first few days. 

Related: The Best Children’s Safety Books of 2019

Shop Amazon
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Rather than using harsh chemicals like many insect repellents, the Burlway Ultrasonic Pest Repeller uses electromagnetic waves to keep your kids both bug-free and safe from inhaling anything harmful. 

Best For Backyard

Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer

The Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer really demonstrates the phrase “killing two birds with one stone”. Aside from keeping insects away from you and your family, it doubles as an outdoor lantern, a beautiful and useful addition to your backyard. 

Pros: The Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer doesn’t use any harsh chemicals that will kill your plants. Rather, it uses a UV light and an electrified grid, with an optional Octenol attachment to attract flying insects. Of course, you’re going to want to put it away from where humans are by about 25 feet, but keep in mind that it comes with a nine-foot cord

Cons: The Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer requires a monthly maintenance fee along with a plug, which may make placement a bit more complicated. 

Related: Security Tips For Campers

Shop Amazon
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer

This insect repellent comes in the form of an outdoor lantern which covers either 1/2 an acre or an acre, ideal for backyard use. 

Insect Repellent Methodology

Insect Repellent Methodology
Insect Repellent Methodology

When it comes to insect repellents, you can either use a lotion or spray, an ultrasonic repellent, or a device that attracts bugs to be placed far away from humans. Of course, there are different factors that you should consider for each type of insect repellent, but I’m going to focus on sprays and lotions, as they’re most commonly used. Here are some things to take into consideration when shopping for a lotion or spray insect repellent:

  • Active ingredients: Most bug repellents use either DEET or picaridin, both safe for the environment as well as your health (the one exception is babies two months or younger, as they shouldn’t use DEET repellents at all).
  • Damage to fabrics: If you’re using a bug repellent indoors, you want to make sure it won’t damage fabrics, as this isn’t the case for many sprays on the market.
  • Hours of protection: Your bug spray should last a minimum of eight hours, although I’ve reviewed sprays that last up to 14.
  • Shelf life: Many bug sprays and lotions can last up to several years, but you should definitely check on the expiration date before buying as it could be shorter for more organic repellents.
  • Sweat/ splash resistant: If you’re using your bug repellent for a hiking, camping or backpacking trip, you’ll want to select one that’s resistant to sweating and splashing which again, isn’t the case with every brand sold.
  • Protection: Different insect repellents work with different insects, including but not limited to mosquitoes, flies, gnats, ticks, chiggers, fleas, and deer flies. Make sure that the insect repellent that you select works against the pests you’re encountering on the regular.
  • Size: Especially if you’re planning on carrying your bug spray around with you, be sure to consider the bottle’s dimensions and size in ounces, also a good clue as to how long it will last.
  • Price: The average bottle of bug repellent costs around seven dollars, so there’s no need to spend a ton of money to stay bug-free.

Insect Repellent Tips

Particularly if you are using a spray or lotion as opposed to an electrical device, there are a number of ways to use insect repellent safely, including:

  • Avoid wounds: If you have any cuts, wounds, or skin that is at all irritated, skip those areas when you’re using insect repellent.
  • Don’t spray in face: Rather than spraying the bug spray in your face, spray it in your hands then rub it on your face, as it can be dangerous with an aerosol bottle.
  • No babies less than two months: If you have a baby that’s two months or younger, you shouldn’t be using DEET repellents at all, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Recap of the Best Insect Repellents of 2019

Insect repellents come in many forms, from sprays to lotions to ultrasonic devices to lanterns. Finding the right one for you is going to depend on what you’re looking for, so if none of these sound quite right, feel free to leave a comment below and I’m happy to make a personalized recommendation. As bug sprays can protect you against tons of medical conditions and viruses, it’s pretty essential that you get it right!

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

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