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What is the Best & Most Effective Mosquito Repellent?

There are several types of mosquito repellents: repellent for the skin, repellent to be applied to clothing, and airborne repellent. Most formulas contain either DEET or picaridin, a relatively newer repellent.

So which one is the most effective in keeping mosquitoes away? Time and time again, EPA-approved repellents containing DEET are considered to be the gold standard at keeping mosquitoes away.

Choosing the best and most effective mosquito repellent is crucial for protecting against mosquito bites and the diseases they can carry. There are numerous options available, ranging from chemical formulations to natural alternatives, so it’s important to consider factors such as efficacy, safety, duration of protection, and personal preferences when choosing which might be best for you. Take a look at our overview below to learn more about how to best protect yourself from these flying pests!

Person spraying bug spray on arm outdoors

Most Effective Mosquito Repellents:

Here are some of the most effective mosquito repellents available:


DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is one of the most widely used and effective mosquito repellents. DEET has been used for decades and was developed by the U.S. Army in the ‘40s. Although it has been under scrutiny in the past, DEET has been approved by the EPA after reports that it does not pose a health concern. Concentrations of DEET between 10 and 30% have proven to provide up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitoes. It is important to note that DEET can damage plastic and synthetic gear. DEET can be used on the skin and clothing, and it is available in various concentrations, with higher concentrations offering longer protection.

2. Picaridin

It is known as icaridin, a synthetic compound derived from piperidine, a natural compound found in black pepper plants. Compared to DEET, picaridin is odorless, non-greasy, and less likely to irritate the skin. It provides comparable protection to DEET and is effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. It is considered to be the most effective against flies.

3. IR3535

IR3535 (Ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate) is a synthetic amino acid used as a mosquito repellent in Europe for over 20 years. It is effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and flies. IR3535 has a non-greasy, mild odor, making it user-friendly. 

4. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)

The oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) is a natural repellent derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree. Its active ingredient, p-Menthane-3,8-diol (PMD), provides effective protection comparable to low concentrations of DEET. 

OLE is a popular choice for those seeking a natural alternative to synthetic repellents and is known for its pleasant, citrusy scent.

5. Permethrin (for clothing)

Permethrin is an insecticide, to treat clothing, gear, and bed nets. Unlike other repellents applied to your skin, permethrin bonds to fabric and provides long-lasting protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects.
Permethrin is especially useful for those spending extended periods outdoors, such as hikers and campers, and in fact, treated clothing can remain effective through multiple washings to protect you longer.

How To Use Mosquito Repellents Work?

To maximize the effectiveness of mosquito repellents, follow these best practices:

  1. Apply Evenly: Ensure the repellent is applied evenly to all exposed skin. Missed spots can become targets for mosquito bites.
  2. Reapply as Needed: Reapply the repellent according to the product’s instructions, especially after swimming, sweating, or prolonged exposure.
  3. Choose the Right Concentration: For longer-lasting protection, choose repellents with higher concentrations of active ingredients like DEET or Picaridin.
  4. Combine Methods: Multiple repellent methods (e.g., topical and spatial repellents) can enhance protection.
  5. Consider Environment: In areas with high mosquito activity, use stronger repellents and additional protective measures such as mosquito nets and screens.

Always apply products in line with their label and manufacturer instructions.

Are Mosquito Repellents Safe?

When shopping for a mosquito repellent, always look for a product that has been approved by the EPA. Most store-bought repellents contain 10-30% DEET or up to 20% picaridin. When using a mosquito repellent, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Talk with your pediatrician about the use of mosquito repellents on children. When applied as directed, mosquito repellents are completely safe for you and your family.

Best Natural Mosquito Repellents to Consider

  1. Citronella – Widely known and used in products specifically designed to repel mosquitoes.
  2. Tea Tree Oil – While broadly antimicrobial, it has properties that can repel mosquitoes.
  3. Lavender Oil – Not only soothing but also effective in repelling mosquitoes when applied to the skin or used in an environment.
  4. Peppermint Oil – Known to repel mosquitoes and provide relief from mosquito bites.
  5. Soybean Oil – Proven to provide extended protection against mosquito bites.
  6. Neem Oil – Studies have shown its efficacy in repelling mosquitoes.
  7. Geraniol – Effective against mosquitoes and used in various natural repellent products. 
  8. Cinnamon Oil – Effective against mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes.
  9. Thyme Oil – Known for its high effectiveness in mosquito repellency when used topically or in environmental applications.

Use Mosquito Control Services for The Best Effectiveness


Does Anything Actually Work To Repel Mosquitoes?

Yes, several methods and products have been proven effective at repelling mosquitoes. These include:

  1. Chemical Repellents: Products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are highly effective. DEET and picaridin are particularly well-known for their long-lasting protection.
  2. Natural Repellents: Essential oils like citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint can repel mosquitoes. While they might not be as long-lasting as chemical repellents, they are popular for their natural properties.
  3. Permethrin: This insecticide can be applied to clothing and gear, providing long-term protection by killing mosquitoes on contact.
  4. Physical Barriers: Mosquito nets, window and door screens, and wearing long sleeves and pants can prevent mosquito bites.
  5. Environmental Control: Eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed, using fans to disrupt their flight, and employing outdoor traps and bug zappers can reduce mosquito populations.

What Do Professionals Use To Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Our local team at Bug Out provides various solutions to keep mosquitoes away.

Let’s explore some of the techniques and products our professional pest exterminators commonly use for mosquito control.

We will take the following steps to keep you free from mosquitoes:

  1. Our technicians will inspect your property to identify the source of the infestation.
  2. We will apply mosquito control products and treatments to target active infestations.
  3. Our experts will implement exclusion efforts to keep mosquitoes from breeding in your yard in the first place.

We will provide ongoing mosquito control and after-care prevention tips to avoid future infestations.

What Is #1 Mosquito Repellent?

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is one of the most effective mosquito repellents. It provides long-lasting protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects applied to the skin or clothing.

To note – the number one mosquito repellent often depends on individual preferences, needs, and considerations such as effectiveness, safety, and duration of protection. 

What Is The Highest Strength Mosquito Repellent?

The highest-strength mosquito repellent is often a product containing 100% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Such high concentrations of DEET provide extended protection and are especially useful in areas with heavy mosquito infestations or for long-duration outdoor activities. While highly effective, these products should be used with caution to avoid potential skin irritation and other side effects. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe application.

What is the Best & Most Effective Mosquito Repellent? Serving Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Durham

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