The Best Insect Repellents

Not sure when to use these? Wanderium automatically recommends relevant gear and services based on your trip's conditions.

The most dangerous animal on earth is... the mosquito. And it's not even close, with over 725,000 deaths per year attributed to this annoying insect. It'd take sharks 100 years to kill as many people as mosquitoes do in a day.

You also can't forget the other 200 million who might not die but get extremely ill from the other diseases that mosquitoes and other insects carry: dengue, Zika, or the tick bite that can turn you into a vegetarian.

Humans haven't stood still though and have concocted a few tried and true methods for keeping those annoying buggers at bay. Here are our favorites.

What we look for
  • How long the protection lasts
  • How convenient is it to use
  • How natural or sustainable it is

Disagree? Know of another great option?

REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Best natural option for mosquitoes

If where you're going mainly only has mosquitoes and not other bugs like ticks or flies, we recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus because a comprehensive study proved that it's just as effective as DEET (see below) while being more natural and sustainable.

Lemon eucalyptus oil lasts for up to six hours which should be enough for most people but if you need something longer lasting keep reading.

REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

3M Ultrathon 30% DEET Lotion

If going somewhere with more than mosquitoes or need longer lasting protection

DEET is considered the gold standard of insect repellents. It's well studied, can last up to 12 hours, and repels most insects (mosquitoes, ticks, some flies).

So why not just recommend it over lemon eucalyptus oil? Well, DEET can melt plastic so you have to be careful not to touch anything like polyester based fabrics (and melting plastic is just kind of scary...). It can also irritate people with sensitive skin.

However, as long as you don't use DEET with a crazy high concentration (like 80%+) it's considered safe. This one is a 30% concentration with a timed release, a good balance that provides sustained protection for up to 12 hours.

3M Ultrathon 30% DEET Lotion

Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Spray

If you hate applying things to your skin or want a multi-day solution

Permethrin is a spray you apply to your clothes, fabrics, and other outdoor gear that wards off mosquitoes and ticks. The main upside is not having to apply anything every time you go out, but there is a bit of an investment to spray everything you're going to bring.

It usually lasts for 6 weeks or 6 washings, so plenty of time for most trips. For complete 100% protection, you'll probably want to use some DEET or lemon eucalyptus too (but not as much).

Watch out
  • Wash permethrin treated clothes separately to preserve the protection.
  • Permethrin negatively affects aquatic life, so make sure to never wash it in fresh bodies of water like a lake, pond, or river.
Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Spray

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