Jump to content

Best Insect Repellent Guide By Consumer Reports as of June 2017


Recommended Posts

Hello Gents,

Just wanted to pass along some information from Consumer Reports about insect repellent from their tests in the June Magazine. I don't get anything from CR and simply want to pass along unbiased information from the SME's on this matter, especially given that mosquito's can be quite a problem in SE Asia. I have followed CR for nearly 30 years and think they provide outstanding advise.

I recall talking to a woman who had a horrible scar on her leg and our conversation drifted to what happened and she said it was a mosquito bite that got infected. Of course, don't scratch after getting bitten, and I learned in Vietnam that if you rub the inside skin of a banana peel on the mosquito bite, it will stop the itching and allow it to heal faster. Anyway, here is the information and I hope it proves helpful to someone. Cheers!!

PS: I had to take out the images but the brands are still there. 


Ingredient Info

In our most recent survey of insect-repellent users, about half said they don’t read the labels before buying them. That’s a mistake, because the active ingredient and concentration matters to both effectiveness and safety.

Products with any one of these three active ingredients—deet, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and picaridin—generally worked well in our tests. And all are safe, even for pregnant women, when used appropriately. Here’s what you need to know about each:


Many people assume that the more deet (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) a product contains, the better. But our tests found that products with 15 to 30 percent deet can provide long-lasting protection against mosquitoes and ticks. And some research suggests that higher concentrations and excessive doses can pose risks, including rashes and possibly even disorientation and seizures.

That’s why we say you should avoid repellents with more than 30 percent deet and not use those products at all on babies younger than 2 months. (See below for how to safely apply all repellents.) But make sure you don't go too low: The product in our insect repellent ratings with just 7 percent deet didn’t work well.

Shop Ben's Insect Repellent on Amazon

See How Insect Repellents With Deet Rated in Our Tests

This is a synthetic repellent modeled after a compound that occurs naturally in the black pepper plant. We recommend two 20 percent picaridin products, both sprays.  

But concentration matters: Another picaridin product, this one just 5 percent, was one of our lowest-scoring insect repellents. And, at least when it comes to picaridin, form seems to matter, too. We found that the 20 percent lotion we tested did not work as well as the 20 percent picaridin spray. Finally, while picaridin seems safe, even for use on infants, it can irritate your skin and eyes, so you should use it carefully (see below).

Shop Sawyer Insect Repellent on Amazon

Find Out How Repellents With Picaridin Did in Our Ratings
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

This is a naturally occurring compound, extracted from the gum eucalyptus tree; a product in our insect repellent ratings that contained 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) did well in our tests, warding off mosquitoes and ticks for at least 7 hours.

All the other products with plant oils—including cedar, cinnamon, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint—provided little protection, often failing in our tests within a half-hour. OLE also appears to be relatively safe when used properly, though it can cause temporary eye injury, and the Food and Drug Administration recommends against using it on children younger than 3.

Shop Repel Lemon Eucalyptus on Amazon

See Which Insect Repellents Topped Our Tests
IR3535 and 2-Undecanone

In our tests, products with these two ingredients were less effective (compared with deet, picaridin, and OLE), offering limited protection. IR3535 is a man-made compound that is structurally similar to a naturally occurring amino acid.

And 2-Undecanone is a synthesized version of a compound found in rue, wild tomatoes, and several other plants.

Both products appear relatively safe but, as with all repellents, should be used with caution, especially on children.

Shop Coleman Insect Repellent on Amazon

Check Our Insect Repellent Ratings
The Buzz: Things to Think About

Be Wary of ‘Natural’ Repellents
Several makers of “natural” insect repellents (which typically contain essential plant oils like cedar, citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary) claim that their products can help ward off mosquitoes, including those that carry the Zika virus. But our tests show that was true only for the product we tested with oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Don’t Buy Based on Just Ingredient or Concentration
Some of our top-rated product contains picaridin, but so do some of our lower-rated ones. Concentration and form probably explain some of that difference: High-scoring products are sprays that contain 20 percent picaridin, and the low-scoring ones contain less picaridin or come in a lotion form.

Don't Use Combination Sunscreen-Insect Repellent Products
We’re not fans of these combo products—sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, which could over-expose the user to the chemicals in repellents.

The Right Way to Apply Repellents

Proper application and use is essential, both for maximum protection and to avoid possible side effects, including skin or eye irritation. That means:

• Apply repellent only to exposed skin or clothing (as directed on the product label). Never put it on under clothing.
• Use just enough to cover and only for as long as needed; heavier doses don’t work better and can increase risks.
• Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth, and using sparingly around ears.
• Don’t let young children apply. Instead, put it on your own hands, then rub it on. Limit use on children’s hands because they often put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
• Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating or drinking.
• At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.
• Some directions suggest using repellents on clothes, but most of the ones we tested damaged leather and vinyl, and some of them stained synthetic fabrics. Wash repellent off your skin and launder treated clothes.


Shopping links are provided by eBay Commerce Network and Amazon, which makes it easy to find the right product from a variety of online retailers. Clicking any of the links will take you to the retailer’s website to shop for this product. Please note that Consumer Reports collects fees from both eBay Commerce Network and Amazon for referring users. We use 100 percent of these fees to fund our testing programs.


Insect Repellent Ratings by Consumer Reports

Edited by SirChickenDigby
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks - I am usually supper to many mosquito's.  Did not realise that deet only needed up to 30% as i usually try and get best.  When I was there with friends many years ago myself and a friend got bit but other 3 got off lightly.  We were the only ones drinking jack daniels and coke.!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks - I am usually supper to many mosquito's.  Did not realise that deet only needed up to 30% as i usually try and get best.  When I was there with friends many years ago myself and a friend got bit but other 3 got off lightly.  We were the only ones drinking jack daniels and coke.!!

A mosquito with taste I see.  :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...