Summertime means more time outdoors. Unfortunately, that can mean a lot more exposure to bugs, such as mosquitoes and ticks. Not only are they annoying, but mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease. Consumer Reports tested 10 repellents to see how well they protect against two types of mosquitoes and deer ticks.
Several of the repellents tested contain the active ingredient DEET—but no more than 30 percent. And others use newer chemicals like picaridin.
The Repel spray uses lemon eucalyptus oil, another chemical. And two other products claim to be "all natural" - Organic Bite Blocker Xtreme and Burt's Bees All Natural Herbal Insect Repellent. The Burt's Bees Repellent performed the worst, offering only a fraction of the protection that the others did.
In the end, six products kept mosquitoes and ticks away for at least 7 hours:
- Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II
- Cutter Backwoods Unscented
- Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry
- 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8
- Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus
- Natrapel 8-Hour with picaridin
The repellents that Consumer Reports tested generally had a strong smell and left a slight residue on the skin, but the Cutter Backwoods Unscented, while it had a slight smell, left barely a hint of residue.
If you want a DEET-free repellent, Consumer Reports recommends the Natrapel 8-Hour with Picaridin or, for anyone older than 3, Repel with Lemon Eucalyptus.
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