Which natural products repel bugs?

As the warm weather of spring arrives, so do bugs. The stings and bites they inflict upon humans can be worrisome. However, slathering on repellents that contain synthetic chemicals also comes with concerns. But not all products that keep biting pests like mosquitoes, fleas, flies and ticks away contain these potentially harsh ingredients. 

Organic repellents work with plant-based ingredients to keep bugs away and deter them from biting and stinging when they arrive. Although chemical-based repellents sometimes work best for persistent pests, organic repellents are excellent natural alternatives.

Safety concerns of synthetic bug repellents

Many insect repellents on the market contain pesticides that are highly effective at deterring pests. DEET — which stands for N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide — is the chemical most commonly used in products that are made to be applied on the skin. 

Although studies have shown DEET to be safe when used sparingly and as recommended, side effects have been reported. These include agitated mood, skin irritation and seizures. What’s more, the chemical isn’t good for the environment because it ends up in wastewater and waterways. 

Safety is key when using DEET-based repellents. They shouldn’t be used on babies, and the instructions must be followed carefully during application. Organic repellents should also be applied as recommended, but they don’t pose the same risks as pesticide-based products. 

What are some effective natural bug repellents?

It’s not just pesticides that deter bugs. Natural substances that are derived from plants are known for being offensive to insects like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, ants, flies and more. Lemon eucalyptus oil and soy-based natural repellents are almost as effective as DEET at keeping bugs away. However, potent or highly-concentrated lemon eucalyptus oil should not be used on toddlers or babies, and ingesting large amounts can be poisonous. 

Many organic repellents also contain one or more essential oils, such as citronella, clove, tea tree, lemon grass, geranium, lavender, rosemary, thyme and peppermint. These oils are natural and safe when used as recommended. 

Although aloe vera extract won’t repel most insects, many people swear by its ability to keep mosquitoes from landing and biting. 

Forms of organic repellents 

Organic bug repellents are sold as sprays, lotions, creams, balms, towelettes and wearables. 

  • Sprays are easy to use, absorb quickly and come with pump and aerosol dispensers. 
  • Lotions and creams require a bit of rubbing to absorb but have the added benefit of a moisturizing effect. 
  • Balms are similar to creams and lotions but are thicker and tend to wear longer. 
  • Towelettes are infused with repellent and are applied by simply wiping them over the skin. 
  • Wearables typically come in the form of bracelets that are coated with repellent. Although they have a limited effect, they are suitable for those who don’t like to apply other types of repellent on the skin.   

Best organic bug repellents

Greenerways Organic DEET-Free Bug Repellent for Kids

Greenerways Organic DEET-Free Bug Repellent for Kids

This spray repellent is formulated for kids with certified organic essential oils that are gentle on delicate skin. It’s dermatologist-tested and free of parabens and phthalates. 

Sold by Amazon

Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent

Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent

Made without artificial ingredients, sulfates, parabens or phthalates, Babyganics spray repellent keeps bugs away with a combination of essential oils in a soybean oil base. It’s formulated by a company known for making gentle baby products. 

Sold by Buy Buy Baby and Amazon

 

Sallye Ander No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent After-Bite Cream

Sallye Ander No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & After-Bite Cream

Not only is this cream soothing to skin, it contains a unique blend of 16 essential oils that most bugs find offensive. The ingredients are safe, organic and not tested on animals. 

Sold by Amazon

Australian Gold DEET-Free Insect Repellent

Australian Gold DEET-free Insect Repellent

This repellent is formulated especially for deterring ticks and mosquitoes with tea tree oil and aloe vera. It sprays on in seconds and absorbs just as fast. 

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon 

Superband Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Superband Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

These mosquito-repelling stretchy bands are coated with essential oils and can be worn on the wrist or ankle. They can fit kids and adults, and they are waterproof too. The pack of 50 includes multiple colors.

Sold by Amazon

Off! Botanicals Plant-Based DEET-Free Repellent

Off Botanicals Plant-Based DEET-Free Repellent

Off Botanicals repellent deters pests with plant-based ingredients instead of DEET that’s in some of the other products by the popular brand. It’s available in towelette or spray forms. 

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon 

Murphys Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm

Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm

This creamy balm is packed with bug-deterring essential oils and doesn’t contain artificial additives. It also contains beeswax that’s soothing to the skin. 

Sold by Amazon

Fairy Tales Bug Bandit DEET-Free Bug Spray

Fairy Tales Bug Bandit DEET-Free Bug Spray

Bug Bandit repellent spray has a soybean oil base and a blend of natural essential oils that work especially well at keeping mosquitoes away. It can be used on kids ages 3 and older. 

Sold by Ulta

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 
 

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