Consumer Reports: These popular insect repellents just don’t work


When you’re spending time outside this summer, it’s important to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs that could carry diseases.

But when it comes to insect repellents, what works and what doesn’t? Consumer Reports found out.

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Best and worst insect repellents

For its testing, Consumer Reports volunteers stuck their bare arms into cages filled with mosquitoes to see how well various types of products on the market worked.

CR found that repellents that protected against mosquitoes are also effective against ticks.

The best repellents protect for more than six hours, Consumer Reports said. They include products with one of the following active ingredients:

  • DEET (15% to 30%)
  • Picaridin (20%)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (30%)

You can get the best protection at a reasonable price. The top tested insect repellent was Total Home Woodland Scent Insect Repellent with 30% DEET, which sells for $7 at CVS.

What doesn’t work? Citronella candles, wristbands, clip-on fans and natural repellents were found to be inferior to the top-rated products. See the full rankings from CR here.

Check out this tool from the EPA to help you find the repellent that’s best for you and your family.

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