Mosquitoes bugging you? These insect repellents tested best

Consumer Reports says DEET products protect best

SAN ANTONIO – Bug season is here, which means you’ll need a good insect repellent to protect you from bites.

But not all repellents can get the job done. Consumer Reports has tested more than 50 of them to find out which ones will let you enjoy the great outdoors, bug-free.

Volunteers applied various spray, lotion, and wipe repellents and stuck their arms into cages filled with 200 disease-free mosquitoes.

The insects that might bite you aren’t necessarily disease-free, though.

“With cases of mosquito- and tick-borne diseases on the rise, it’s crucial to protect yourself,” said Consumer Reports’ Catherine Roberts.

Take Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 476,000 cases occurred each year between 2010 and 2018, up nearly 45% from the decade prior.

But not all repellents offer adequate protection.

So, what works best, according to Consumer Reports’ testing?

“No matter which brand or type of repellent you’re using, products made with 25 to 30% deet work the best,” Roberts said.

Repellents that earn a recommendation from Consumer Reports include 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8, and Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump. Both excelled in protecting against mosquitos and ticks. Another recommended product is OFF Sportsmen Deep Woods Insect Repellent3.

If you prefer not to use DEET, Consumer Reports also recommends some repellents made with 20% picaridin or 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus. One they recommend is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent2.

No matter which repellent you choose, to be effective it has to be applied properly. Follow the directions on the label, and use a thin coat on all exposed skin. You can also spray on top of your clothes, but don’t apply under your clothing.

And don’t let children apply their own bug spray. Instead, spray onto your hands, then rub onto the child’s exposed skin and face.

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.