14 Natural Insect Repellents That Actually Work
Summer may be all about working on your tan while sipping cocktails on a tropical beach but, unfortunately, it’s also the time of the year when we become magnets for all kinds of bugs and insects. Besides risking nasty bites, you are also taking a chance with very serious diseases such as Zika and Lyme disease if you’re not doing anything to protect yourself from mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.
While institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization recommend DEET- and picaridin-based sprays as the most effective, these are also pesticides meant for topical use that can cause skin irritations in people with sensitive skin and in infants. Not to mention, the idea of exposing yourself or your kids to strong chemicals on a regular basis doesn’t seem like the safest long-term option.
That’s where natural bug repellents come in handy. These are non-toxic, usually plant-based products that protect against a wide range of insects. Take peppermint essential oil, for example, which not only smells fresh but is also anti-inflammatory, relieves muscle and joint pain, and repels bugs naturally. Tea tree oil, which is known for its anti-breakout properties, is another natural way to prevent bug bites.
Nowadays, clothing brands are also investing in bug-repellent fabrics which are treated with Permethrin, a biodegradable, odorless insecticide produced by the chrysanthemum flower, that is especially effective against tick bites. And speaking of odorless, if you’d prefer an electronic alternative, you can opt for an ultrasonic repellent, which successfully fends off not just insects but also rodents.
Now, check out the best natural and organic insect repellents that will protect you from bug bites this travel season.
ExOfficio BugsAway Impervia Leggings
This pair of comfy, moisture-wicking leggings has a UPF 50 rating and has been treated for odor-resistance in addition to its Permethrin-based finish that protects you from bugs and insects.
To buy: amazon.com, $43 (originally $85)
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent
This Amazon Bestseller has more than 2,300 five-star reviews. It contains oil of lemon eucalyptus and is DEET-free.
To buy: amazon.com, $6 (originally $7)
DoTerra TerraShield Essential Oil Repellent Blend
The formula for this oil blend contains a number of essential oils which are known to repel insects and bugs. Apply it on your skin before heading out or diffuse it on the patio while you enjoy your evening drink.
To buy: amazon.com, $14
Deter Natural Insect Repellent Wipes
These natural towelettes contain a blend of essential oils that protects from bugs for up to six hours.
To buy: amazon.com, $13
Royal Robbins Bug Barrier Expedition Long Sleeve Shirt
Gentlemen, this shirt gives you all the protection you need this summer — it has UPF 40+ sun protection and the fabric is treated to repel insects. You could dress it up as a long-sleeve shirt or opt for a more casual look by rolling up the sleeves.
To buy: zappos.com, $90
Toad&Co Debug Sport Hoodie
This hoodie is crafted from coffee-treated fabric that blends moisture-wicking performance, UV protection, and a high degree of insect repellency. It is also treated with Permethrin for added bug protection that lasts up to 70 washes.
To buy: zappos.com, $56 (originally $79)
Simple Natural Products Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
These simple bracelets will keep the mosquitoes away from you this summer without having to spray your entire body with a pesticide-based product. Each bracelet provides you with up to 240 hours of constant protection using all-natural citronella oil and lavender. They are suitable for both adults and kids.
To buy: amazon.com, $20 for a pack of 15 bracelets
Para’Kito Mosquito Repellent Sport Edition Wristband
The last thing you want to get while meditating or running outside is mosquito bites. This wristband uses DEET-free, refillable pellets that provide constant protection for up to 15 days per pellet.
To buy: amazon.com, $20
Badger Anti-bug Shake & Spray
Badger has a certified organic and DEET-free formula that works thanks to a blend of citronella, rosemary, and wintergreen essential oils.
To buy: amazon.com, $13
Pure Body Naturals Peppermint Essential Oil
The benefits or pure peppermint oil are far too many to list, but its bug-repellent properties have been known for ages.
To buy: amazon.com, $11
Ifunda Electronic Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Plug this in to rid your vacation rental of mosquitoes, ants, fleas, rats, roaches, and other rodents in an effective and non-toxic way. It works by transmitting high-intensity sound waves that are out of the hearing range for human beings and most household pets.
To buy: amazon.com, $22
Bugs at Bay Herbal Insect Spray
This all-natural insect spray has a fresh scent and a non-greasy, non-sticky feel. It is also non-toxic and eco-friendly.
To buy: amazon.com, $8
SallyeAnder "No-bite-me" Preventive & After-bite Cream
This DEET-, paraben-, and alcohol-free cream has a rich, moisturizing texture and is derived from natural essential oils that repel flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
To buy: amazon.com, $13
Babyganics Personal Insect Repellent Wipes
Protect your bundle of joy from mosquitoes with these DEET-free, plant-based wipes.
To buy: target.com, $10