Which insect repellent works best? Check this list

EMBED </>More Videos

When the bugs are biting, you want to be protected. (KABC)

When the bugs are biting, you want to be protected.

To test how well insect repellents work, Consumer Reports enlists brave panelists to stick their arms into cages filled with swarming mosquitoes.

Researchers looked at repellents with synthetic chemicals like DEET, as well as others that contain picaridin and oil of eucalyptus which mimics chemicals found in nature.

They also tested plant-based repellents that were labeled "natural" containing ingredients like citronella, lemongrass and cedar oils.

"Your best protection against mosquito and tick-borne diseases like West Nile or Lyme is to avoid getting bitten in the first place; that's why an effective insect repellent is so important," said Jeneen Interlandi, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

The best repellents protected for six-and-a-half hours or more while the lowest scoring brands only lasted for two hours or less. Consumer Reports said it's best to avoid the plant based, natural products.

"The thing about 'natural repellents' is that these products are not registered with the EPA. Because the agency deems the chemicals they contain to be of minimal safety risk, they don't bother to evaluate them for safety or effectiveness," Interlandi said.

What did make a difference in the tests were the active chemical ingredients.

"Out of a total of 25 products that we've tested, all of the ones that earned our recommendation contained one of just three different active ingredients - and each one at a limited range of concentrations: 20 percent picaridin, between 15 and 30 percent DEET, or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus," Interlandi said.

Two products with DEET that earned top scores in Consumer Reports tests were Total Home Woodland Scent insect repellent with 30 percent Deet from CVS, and Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent.

If you want to skip the DEET, Repel Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus Formula performed almost as well and costs $5. Or consider Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent with 20 percent picaridin.

Consumer Reports recommends choosing a repellent that contains 30 percent DEET or less. They said DEET products are safe for everyone, including children.

One more piece of advice: Even when you are wearing repellent, it's always a good idea to check for bites after being outdoors.
Related Topics:
healthhealthmosquitoconsumer reports
(Copyright ©2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)