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The Best Bug Spray - 2021

Last updated on July 21, 2021
Best Bug Spray

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Our Picks For The Top Bug Sprays

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best All-Purpose Pick

Babyganics SPF 50 Baby Sunscreen Spray & DEET Free Bug Repellent, 2 Pack

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Babyganics

SPF 50 Baby Sunscreen Spray & DEET Free Bug Repellent, 2 Pack

Overall Take

Formulated for Young ChildrenThis organic product, combining bug spray and sunscreen, is formulated to be safe for babies.

  Runner Up

Repel 33801 Insect Bug Spray, 6.5-Ounce

Repel

33801 Insect Bug Spray, 6.5-Ounce

Overall Take

Easy ApplicationApplying this highly-effective 40% DEET sunscreen is a breeze thanks to the aerosol format.

  We Also Like

Bug Soother Natural Insect & Bug Spray, 2-Count

Bug Soother

Natural Insect & Bug Spray, 2-Count

Overall Take

Great for Smaller InsectsAlthough this spray works against some mosquitoes, it's best for repelling smaller pests like gnats.

  Strong Contender

Cutter Backwoods 11-Ounce Insect & Bug Repellent, 2-Pack

Cutter

Backwoods 11-Ounce Insect & Bug Repellent, 2-Pack

Overall Take

Long-Lasting ProtectionYou'll get up to 10 hours of protection against pests with this 25% DEET spray, even if you sweat.

Guide written by Stephanie Faris
Last updated on July 21, 2021

Few things can disrupt a great time outdoors like bugs. Gnats and no-see-ums are annoying, to be sure, but mosquitoes are the worst since they actually leave bites on your skin. Plus, mosquitoes can carry disease, putting you and your loved ones at risk.

That’s where a good bug spray can come in. There are plenty of products on the market that claim to keep bugs at bay but finding one that works well while you’re outside for hours, sweating and movie around, is a challenge. Even more difficult? Finding a bug spray that is effective and also well-tolerated by your family members.

One of the top ingredients in bug spray is DEET, which has been around since the 1940s. DEET,  a man-made chemical also known as N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, is widely considered to be the most effective ingredient in repelling the most invasive types of mosquitoes, as well as other bugs.

Some households avoid bug sprays with DEET altogether, although most high-quality recent research has shown it to be relatively safe even for babies 2 months old and up. In recent years, products have emerged that use natural ingredients, including essential oils, that bugs may find distasteful. These might not be as long-lasting or effective as DEET, but many consumers and even experts have found that they do quite well at keeping bugs at bay, especially if you apply them thoroughly and often.

The Best Bug Sprays

1
  Best All-Purpose Pick

Babyganics SPF 50 Baby Sunscreen Spray & DEET Free Bug Repellent, 2 Pack

With an SPF of 50+, this bug spray keeps baby's skin protected against both insects and the sun's harmful rays. The reef-safe, DEET-free formula is non-allergenic and tear-free. Its plant-derived formula uses essential oils like citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass and geranium.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Babyganics
Model
2
  Runner Up

Repel 33801 Insect Bug Spray, 6.5-Ounce

The aerosol format of this bug spray makes application easy. it includes both 40% DEET (one of the highest concentrations available) and Picaridin, a combination that helps provide reliable, odorless, clean-feeling protection against bugs for long stretches of time.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Repel
Model
3
  We Also Like

Bug Soother Natural Insect & Bug Spray, 2-Count

If gnats, black flies and no-see-ums are your issue, this mild natural pest repellent might suffice. The ingredients list is packed with items that not only repel insects but feel good on the skin, including purified water, glycerin and vitamin E. The scent comes from lemongrass and vanilla.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Bug Soother
Model
4
  Strong Contender

Cutter Backwoods 11-Ounce Insect & Bug Repellent, 2-Pack

Formulated to last, this aerosol product promises to keep mosquitoes at bay for up to 10 hours, even packing in sweat resistance. Each can contains 25% DEET to for effective resistance to bites. You'll get two cans in this set, giving you a spare to keep on hand.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Cutter
Model
5
  Also Great

Sky Organics Organic Bug Spray, 4-Ounce

Sustainability is key with this bug spray, starting with the recyclable aluminum bottle. This organic, responsibly-sourced spray uses plant-based ingredients like citronella oil, lavender oil and lemongrass essential oil to repel insects, keeping you bug-free throughout the day.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Sky Organics
Model

Our Bug Spray Buying Guide

Few things can disrupt a great time outdoors like bugs. Gnats and no-see-ums are annoying, to be sure, but mosquitoes are the worst since they actually leave bites on your skin. Plus, mosquitoes can carry disease, putting you and your loved ones at risk.

That’s where a good bug spray can come in. There are plenty of products on the market that claim to keep bugs at bay but finding one that works well while you’re outside for hours, sweating and movie around, is a challenge. Even more difficult? Finding a bug spray that is effective and also well-tolerated by your family members.

One of the top ingredients in bug spray is DEET, which has been around since the 1940s. DEET,  a man-made chemical also known as N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, is widely considered to be the most effective ingredient in repelling the most invasive types of mosquitoes, as well as other bugs.

Some households avoid bug sprays with DEET altogether, although most high-quality recent research has shown it to be relatively safe even for babies 2 months old and up. In recent years, products have emerged that use natural ingredients, including essential oils, that bugs may find distasteful. These might not be as long-lasting or effective as DEET, but many consumers and even experts have found that they do quite well at keeping bugs at bay, especially if you apply them thoroughly and often.

DWYM Fun Fact

Mosquitoes are relatively small in comparison to dangerous animals like sharks and alligators. But did you know the tiny insects actually kill more people each year than any other creature? Mosquitoes carry deadly diseases like malaria and the Zika virus, leading to an estimated one million deaths each year.

There’s a biological reason mosquitoes bite humans: reproduction. The females drink human blood for sustenance, but the blood also provides them with protein to help in egg formation. Mosquitoes can lay up to 100 eggs at a time, so they need plenty of protein! However, the bites that result can be at the very least a nuisance to humans, who must then deal with itchiness at the injection spot. And sometimes, more serious complications follow.

The Bug Spray Tips and Advice

  • Applying bug spray can be an involved process if you’re using a product with a pump spray mechanism. Aerosols allow you to get the product on the skin liberally, without missing chunks of skin or taking a long time. But there are concerns about aerosols and the environment, so if that’s a worry for you, one that uses a pump might be better.
  • As effective as chemical-based bug sprays can be, the odor can be unpleasant. Sprays that use more natural ingredients are typically much easier on the nose. But they may not work as well, so you’re making a tradeoff.
  • Whether you’re applying bug spray to another person or yourself, be very careful around the eyes, mouth and nose. To better control the application, it’s usually best to spray it on your fingers, then spread it on the skin.
  • Some bug sprays designed for young people build in sunscreen. This can be a great way to make sure your children have full protection from outdoor dangers without having to layer two products on top of each other.
  • If you’ll be spending more than a couple of hours outdoors, a bug spray with DEET is likely the best option unless you plan to stop and reapply every couple of hours. DEET can last for hours and also resists losing effectiveness if you sweat.

About The Author

Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and professional writer. She lives in a beautiful one-acre home in the suburbs on the outskirts of Nashville. Her home and garden work has appeared on popular home sites. She's a true homebody and loves looking at new houses for sale for inspiration on her own home remodeling projects.