Best Mosquito Repellents 2021: Top-Rated Bug Sprays for Flies, Gnats - Rolling Stone
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RS Recommends: Where to Stock Up On the Best Mosquito Repellents for the Season

From plant-based products to super-strength formulas, these are the mosquito repellents you need this summer

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With the return of summer comes the return of long days spent outside hiking, camping, fishing, or simply enjoying the fresh air. Unfortunately, this also means the return of bug season and pesky mosquito bites. Protect yourself and your family from irritating – and potentially dangerous – bites by using mosquito repellent.

The best mosquito repellents (also known as bug sprays), help to keep those pesky mosquitos (and flies and other critters) away from your skin, protecting you from getting bitten.

Are Mosquito Bites Dangerous?

While it’s very common for mosquito bites to be nothing more than a short-term skin irritant, mosquitos are fully capable of carrying disease. Mosquitos may carry malaria and the zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with mosquitos and apply proper repellent to your body when you know that you are going to be exposed to the insects.

What Are the Ingredients in Mosquito Repellent?

DEET is the active ingredient in the best mosquito repellents. The chemical was created by USDA chemists for use by the U.S military. Since 1957, it has been commercially available and its use is widespread. DEET works by preventing mosquitos and other insects from even landing on your skin or clothing. DEET may be a chemical, but it is safe to use as directed. It is not a carcinogen and it is safe for children. The CDC does recommend against using it on children younger than two months old, however.

While DEET is a trusted, proven repellent, some people do prefer plant-based active ingredients. In such products, the active ingredients will be a blend of natural essential oils. Cedar oil and Lemongrass are two common essential oils used as insect repellents, as bugs tend to avoid the scent given off by these plants.

When shopping for the best mosquito repellent, consider your active ingredient preferences along with your application preferences. Mosquito repellents come in the form of wipes, sprays, and lotions. Each form is effective when applied properly.

1. Cutter Insect Repellent Wipes

These Cutter mosquito repellent wipes are easy to store and easy on your skin. Each pack comes with 15 individual wipes and, for extra value, this bundle comes with three packs. Use them like a moist towelette that you get at restaurants, or like a hand sanitizing wipe. Just unfold and wipe across your skin.

The wipes are made with 7.15% DEET which allows them to be tough on bugs. Wipes allow for finely controlled application, which is especially helpful when applying repellent to your face, ears, and neck – or to children. The wipes have a cool, clean scent and we love them for their smooth, non-greasy application.

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Buy: Cutter Insect Repellent Wipes at $28.95

2. OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent

With 25% DEET as an active ingredient, OFF! Deep Woods Insect and Mosquito Repellent is super-strong and excellent for hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. Even in heavily-wooded areas, this repellent protects you from mosquitos that may carry the zika, dengue, or West Nile viruses, along with other insects such as ticks, biting flies, gnats, and chiggers. The repellent is applied in spray form, but it uses a powder-dry formula which means your skin won’t feel oily or greasy after application.

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Buy: OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent at $25.92

3. Repel Insect Repellent Lotion

If you have an aversion to even the most comfortable spray-on mosquito repellents, then this lotion repellent from Repel is the best mosquito repellent for you. Repel’s Sportsmen Max Formula was designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind, with the lotion going on clear and lasting even through sweat and grime.

Whether you’re camping, biking, hiking, or playing sports, this formula is long-lasting even when you’re exerting yourself. The lotion contains 40% DEET and comes in 4 oz. bottles. Not only does it protect against mosquitos that may transmit the zika, West Nile, dengue, and chikungunya viruses, it also creates a barrier between you and ticks, biting flies, gnats, chiggers, and fleas.

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Buy: Repel Insect Repellent Lotion at

4. Wondercide Mosquito, Tick, Fly and Insect Repellent

If you are shopping for plant-based products, then Wondercide’s DEET-free bug spray is the best mosquito repellent for you. Wondercide’s formula is made with natural essential oils including cedar oil, coconut-derived sodium lauryl sulfate, jemongrass oil, and sesame oil.

The company says the formula repels 98% of mosquitos, and also protects against gnats, ticks, fleas, spiders, and other biting flies. This plant-based option is especially useful for protecting children and pets, and for those with sensitive skin.

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Buy: Wondercide Mosquito, Tick, Fly and… at $23.98

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