This Is the Best Bug Spray
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We Tried 4 Bug Sprays and This Is the Best

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This Is the Best Bug Spray
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Bite No More

There are a lot of great things about summer. Bugs are not one of them. Pesky insects have the potential to ruin a vacation and leave you swatting at the air instead of swatting at a beach ball. So this season, get prepared by purchasing a bug spray that works. We tried a variety of insect repellents, listed here in order of price from lowest to highest, to choose the best overall.

Prices and availability may vary.

The Low Down on Deet
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The Lowdown on DEET

Most of the products we tried contain DEET, which has been used as an insect repellent in the United States for more than 50 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a product with at least 20% DEET for effective, long-lasting protection against mosquitoes that may transmit the Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile viruses. Some people may prefer more natural methods of repelling insects, but non-chemical alternatives such as citronella have not been evaluated for effectiveness by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Courtesy of walmart.com

Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent

Price: $4.12 for a 6-ounce aerosol spray at Walmart (69¢/ounce)
Active ingredient: 25% DEET
Scent: Faint bug repellent
Effectiveness: Excellent

How to Repel Bugs Naturally
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Our Review of Cutter Backwoods

For sweaty, outdoor activities, there's Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent. This product features unscented 25% DEET and a 10-hour, sweat-resistant formula. It's rated highly in other tests by consumer product experts, and it's a good value for the money. Although all the products smelled like bug spray — even those labeled "unscented" — Cutter Backwoods was pretty inoffensive, fading within 20 minutes of application.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Spray
Courtesy of target.com

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

Price: $5.29 for a 4-ounce pump spray at Target ($1.32/ounce)
Active ingredient: 40% oil of lemon eucalyptus
Scent: Smelly, week-old lemons
Effectiveness: Decent

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
Courtesy of target.com

Our Review of Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

For an alternative to bug sprays containing DEET, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent contains 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, or OLE, a naturally sourced active ingredient. It also had one of the most pungent and unpleasant smells of any product we tested. It may be that the bugs also hate the smell — they did seem to stay away.

Off! FamilyCare Insect Repellent Smooth & Dry
Courtesy of walmart.com

Off FamilyCare Insect Repellent Smooth & Dry

Price: $5.88 for a 4-ounce aerosol spray at Walmart ($1.47/ounce)
Active ingredient: 15% DEET
Scent: Mild
Effectiveness: Good

Off FamilyCare Insect Repellent Smooth & Dry
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Our Review of Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry

Off, an SC Johnson company, has been around since 1886 and produces a variety of bug repellents and sprays. Its FamilyCare Smooth & Dry line is more like a powder-dry aerosol deodorant spray. You spritz it on and there's no need to wait for it to dry. The best feature is that it won't damage clothing. It lasts up to six hours but doesn't contain quite the concentration of DEET that the CDC recommends for long-lasting protection.

Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII (Dry)
Courtesy of lowes.com

Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII (Dry)

Price: $5.97 for a 4-ounce aerosol spray at Lowe's ($1.49/ounce)
Active ingredient: 25% DEET
Scent: Citrus
Effectiveness: Very good

Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII (Dry): Verdict
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Our Review of Off Deep Woods (Dry)

This repellant provides effective protection for up to eight hours against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, and chiggers. Of the four products we tried, this one smelled the least offensive, with a mild citrus scent. It's a dry spray, so it doesn't feel greasy. It exceeds the CDC-recommended minimum of 20% DEET for prolonged outdoor activities like hiking.

Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Courtesy of walmart.com

And the Best Bug Spray Is ...

Of the four products tested, Cutter Backwoods is the best overall insect repellent. It's cost-effective, with the lowest price per ounce. It's formulated to work longer and doesn't smell bad. For those who would prefer a less oily texture, it also comes in a "dry" variety.