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What's behind our insect repellent Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 16 models in insect repellents to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Based on mosquito and tick repelling effectiveness. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Active ingredients
    The active ingredients listed on the product's label.
  • Effectiveness Aedes Mosquitoes
    The number of hours that the product lasted before Aedes mosquitoes began to bite.
  • Effectiveness Culex Mosquitoes
    The number of hours that the product lasted before Culex mosquitoes began to bite.
  • Effectiveness Deer Ticks
    The number of hours that the product lasted before deer tick nymphs crossed onto a treated forearm.
  • Type
    Either pump or aerosol spray.
  • Cost per oz.
    Approximate retail price divided by product contents in ounces.
  • Resists damage to materials
    We test repellents on a few common materials. Those scoring higher are less likely to cause damage. If you are concerned about damage, test first on an inconspicuous spot.


Insect repellent user reviews

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Recommended insect repellents

Recommended insect repellents are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
In Consumer Reports' tests of insect repellents, we found several that provided excellent or very good protection against mosquito and tick bites. If you're looking for information about insect repellents, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports' insect repellent reviews will give you honest advice that you can trust. Use our insect repellent buying guide to discover what to consider, including whether you need protection from mosquitoes or ticks, or both pests, and how long you're going to be out of doors. We also provide unbiased insect repellent ratings and reviews to help you choose the best insect repellent for your needs, including whether you should buy a product containing the ingredient deet. That chemical can help keep mosquitoes and ticks away, but our safety experts worry that the products might pose risks to people and the environment. Recommended insect repellents are both aerosols and pump sprays, and all provide at least five hours of protection against bites from Aedes and Culex mosquitoes and deer ticks.

Insect repellent buying guide

A good insect repellent can help you enjoy the outdoors without the company of mosquitoes and ticks. At an outside lab, brave testers bared their arms in mosquito-filled cages and let ticks crawl on them. We recorded how long it took for mosquitoes to start biting and for ticks to crawl over treated areas.

Our bugs were free of disease, but wild mosquitoes in the U.S. can carry West Nile virus, which can be deadly. Travelers outside the U.S. might encounter mosquitoes carrying chikungunya disease, malaria, or dengue fever. Ticks can spread Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, among other illnesses. Those diseases can be crippling--they can give you fever, body aches, muscle or joint pain, and headaches.

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