- Effective mosquito prevention requires using products that not only repel insects but that you enjoy using.
- This could include aerosol sprays, citronella candles, repellent wipes, and even mosquito-proof clothing.
- Our top pick, OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent, uses DEET and is one of the most effective mosquito repellers.
Fending off a swarm of mosquitos is a pastime many know all too well. Whether you’re out on a camp or backpacking trip or simply relaxing in your backyard, mosquitos are unfamiliar with boundaries yet quite effective at being as annoying an outdoor pest as there are.
But repellents like aerosol sprays, wipes, and citronella candles exist which aim to effectively ward off those pesky insects. Thankfully, those same remedies are also available in abundant variety as the market for mosquito defense is quite large; some brands have even gone as far as to offer mosquito-proof clothing.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been quite popular among mosquitos and have harbored many an itchy and bothersome bite. Having grown up along the beach in Oregon, I became very familiar with the song and dance required to reduce how much of a buffet I am to mosquitos. Though I now live in New York City, that same routine persists as I can barely step foot into my backyard before being swarmed by an army of blood-hungry pests.
All that is to say, I’ve come to know mosquito repellents as if I developed them myself. I’ve used just about every option possible and found a number of products that are my daily go-to during mosquito season – and it’s a solid blend of almost every variant including sprays, portable devices, clothing, and when I’m in a pinch, wipes.
Below, I’ve compiled my absolute favorites, from brands like Off!, Jack Wolfskin, and Thermacell, each of which are tried, tested, and trusted by yours truly.
Here are the best mosquito repellent products
- Best overall: OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent
- Best portable: Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller
- Best apparel: Jack Wolfskin Mosquito-Proof
- Best wipes: Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Repellent Wipes
- Best repellent candles: Votive Citronella Candles
OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent provides hours of reliable mosquito irritation prevention thanks to the 25% concentration of DEET.
Pros: One of the most effective mosquito repellents, easily portable
Cons: Smells bad, can ruin your clothing, can make you sick if ingested
Here are some things you need to know about diethyltoluamide, better known as DEET. It has been available to the public since the 1950s, and in all that time and after countless tests, it is still considered the most effective mosquito repellent formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers it safe for use on children as young as two months old in concentrations up to 30%. It effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, and many other bugs, too.
OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent has a DEET concentration of 24% and when applied properly, it provides roughly eight hours of insect protection. Although it doesn’t smell all that great, it works well for people of any age (save for babies aged eight weeks or younger).
I keep a can of this in my backyard, in my cycling pack, and I always stash a bottle of it in my camping tote or hiking backpack, too.
The best portable mosquito repellent
Thermacell’s E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller projects a 20-foot area of mosquito protection, making it great for use while camping or relaxing in a backyard or park.
Pros: Creates a 20-foot safe zone that effectively repels mosquitos, uses a scent-free repellent that doesn’t have DEET or citronella, runs for upwards of five and a half hours
Cons: Takes a few minutes to be effective, so it’s not good for immediate relief
Thermacell has long been a go-to in the bug repellent space and its E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller is one of the best products in its lineup. This portable, easy-to-use device works well in a variety of settings, too, as I’ve taken it camping, used it in my backyard, and even stashed it in my backpack before heading to meet friends at the park.
The E55 works by creating a roughly 20-foot area of mosquito protection using a scent-free repellent that’s heat-activated. All you need to do is push the button on the front of the device, and the E55 begins emitting this repellent instantly. It does, however, take a few minutes for the full area to fill with repellent, so it’s not exactly the best option for a quick fix.
I’ve found that its best use case is to turn it on and place it in a backyard or campsite about 10 minutes before you’ll actually be outside. This way, it was able to pre-emptively create a safe zone without me having to fend off mosquitos in the meantime.
Although its mosquito-repelling effectiveness is its clear best feature, the fact the E55 is also rechargeable meant I don’t always have to have a spare set of batteries on me while I use it. Of course, I do have to make sure it’s fully charged (or at least has some juice in it) before using, but it offers around 5 to 5.5 hours of use on a single charge, which I found to be more than enough.
I often see the E55 retailing for around $40 via REI (and it’s not on sale too much), while additional 36-hour refills cost around $18. Though this isn’t really on the cheap side, it is worth the investment for how effective it’s been for me time and again. I’m not a huge fan of always using a spray, so Thermacell’s E55 is my constant go-to.
The best mosquito repellent clothing
If you’d rather avoid sprays or wipes, Jack Wolfskin’s Mosquito-Proof clothing line is a great alternative that actually works.
Pros: Allows those with sensitivities to avoid using bug sprays or wipes, comfortable selection of clothing including shirts, pants, and jackets, available in a variety of sizes for all genders
Cons: Not 100% effective since it has to be covering the parts of your body you want to protect
Apparel that protects you from mosquitos and other bugs has been around for several years, though previous versions and styles haven’t always been both comfortable or entirely flattering to wear. Enter: Jack Wolfskin’s Mosquito-Proof line.
Not only do the shirts, jackets, and pants from Jack Wolfskin excel at keeping pesky mosquitos at bay but it’s also available in a range of styles, sizes, colors, cuts, and fits. I especially like this kind of variety because it makes me actually want to wear it in more settings than just while camping or backpacking. These can be legitimate everyday pieces I want to reach for rather than need to reach for.
Pieces I’m especially fond of are the Lakeside Roll-Up Shirt, the Lakeside Jacket, and the Lakeside Pant. There’s also a larger jacket called the Lakeside Safari, though it’s more of a technical piece that I wouldn’t need much use for (though it is still a solid option).
The prices for each are mostly the same, as the shirt often retails for $90 while the pants and jacket go for $100. Jack Wolfskin does occasionally hold sales, and I’ve seen the pants discounted as low as $80 before.
Though those prices may seem a little steep, these are mostly investment pieces that you’d wear over and over again (especially during heavy mosquito months). They’re durable enough to handle plenty of washes, and hold up well on hikes and camping or backpacking trips.
If you’d rather wear apparel than swear by a spray to fend off mosquitos, the Mosquito-Proof line from Jack Wolfskin should be your go-to.
The best mosquito repellent wipes
Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes apply mosquito repellent directly to your skin with better precision than aerosol sprays, and its formula is designed to repel bugs without damaging your good bacteria.
Pros: Repels insects without harming helpful bacteria, smells nice, easily portable
Cons: Not a great option for everyday use
Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes come individually packaged so they stay moist and potent right until you need to use one. To do so, simply rip open the packet and rub the wipe over any exposed skin you want to protect against mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, and more.
While wipes like these aren’t as effective a repellent as something with DEET, my experience using them has been mostly positive. It helps that they have a nice minty scent (so they easily smell better than the Off! spray above).
I tend to use these when I’m in a pinch or if the spray I’ve brought along on a hike or camping trip goes empty before I’m able to re-up. These can easily store in a camp tote or backpack and are small enough to stash under your sink at home for easy use while in the backyard.
These can be a bit expensive if you decide to use them all the time but in moderation, they’re an excellent choice.
The best mosquito repellent candles
The Votive Citronella Candles come in a pack of 36, making it easy to store a few around your backyard, at camp, or wherever you want some peace and quite from mosquitos.
Pros: Great price for several candles, safe and natural, has a nice scent
Cons: Not as effective in places with high wind
There are so many mosquito-repelling citronella candles for sale and many of them do essentially the same thing, which is, emit a scent mosquitoes don’t like.
Many such candles are large and potent, with a thick wick set into a bucket or big glass container. I like using these 2-inch-tall votive-style candles, and for less than $30, I get a box of 36 of them, which is good for several months (even of heavy use).
The Votive Citronella Candles give off a citrus-like smell that’s mostly enjoyable. When placed around your backyard or camp on days where the wind is light, they can really help create an area where mosquitos won’t bother you. Do be careful of the open flame and take caution when putting them near anything else that’s flammable.