Here’s the top-rated repellents to keep bugs from biting

Bug season is here, which means you’ll need a good insect repellent to protect you from bites. But not all repellents can get the job done. Consumer Reports has tested more than 50 of them to find out which ones will let you enjoy the great outdoors, bug-free.

Insect repellent sprays, lotions, and wipes—Consumer Reports has put them all to the test. That means having willing panelists stick their arms into cages filled with 200 disease-free mosquitoes after having a standard dose of repellent applied to their skin.

But of course, the insects that might bite you aren’t necessarily disease-free.

“With cases of mosquito and tick-borne diseases on the rise, it’s crucial to protect yourself,” warned Consumer Reports Health Editor Catherine Roberts.

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Click here to view a full list of top-rated insect repellents of 2022

Take Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 476,000 cases occurred each year between 2010 and 2018, up nearly 45 percent from the decade prior.

But Consumer Reports says not all repellents offer adequate protection.

“Our testing paints a pretty clear picture – no matter the brand or what kind of repellent you’re using – products made with 25 to 30 percent deet worked the best,” said Roberts.

Repellents that earn a recommendation from Consumer Reports include 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8 and Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump. Both excelled in protecting against mosquitoes and ticks. If you prefer wipes, Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent Wipes are top-rated too.

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If you prefer not to use deet, Consumer Reports also recommends some repellents made with 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus, like Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent2.

No matter which repellent you choose, to be effective it has to be applied properly. Follow the directions on the label and use a thin coat on all exposed skin. You can also spray it on top of your clothes, but don’t apply it under your clothing.

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And, Consumer Reports says not to let children apply their own bug spray. Instead, spray it onto your hands, then rub it onto the child’s exposed skin and face.

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