Consumer Reports: Which bug sprays are worth your bucks?

Brand less important than concentration of ingredients, research finds

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of insect-borne diseases is increasing.

Wearing an effective insect repellent is an important step against mosquitoes and ticks that can spread diseases like West Nile and Lyme.

Consumer Reports has ratings for 41 different repellents and can tell you which ones work best to ward off pests.

Consumer Reports tests repellents that contain Deet or other active chemical ingredients, like picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. 

To see how effective each repellent is, Consumer Reports enlists panelists willing to stick their arms into cages filled with disease-free mosquitoes.

Earlier years of testing have shown that if a repellent does well against mosquitoes, it generally tends to do well against ticks also.

So which repellents work best? Here’s the good news. It’s not about which brands performed better, but more about the concentration of the active ingredients. 

Consumer Reports found that concentrations of Deet at 25% to 30% are really the best to keep you protected.

WATCH: What is Deet? | Avoid mosquito breeding at your home

Off Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent IV Dry with 25% Deet performed excellently against mosquitoes. Or a CR Best Buy, Ben’s with 30% Deet.

If you prefer wipes, CR recommends Repel Insect Repellent Mosquito Wipes with 30% Deet. 

So a lot of folks are worried that Deet might not be safe, but there’s a lot of evidence to show that when you follow the directions on the label and you use it properly, Deet is very effective and safe.

Consumer Reports also tested repellents that use natural ingredients like citronella, peppermint and soybean oil to keep pests away. Unfortunately, those products performed poorly in CR’s tests and aren’t effective.

You can learn more about Deet-free repellents that CR says are effective from CR’s video online, along with information on how to apply any repellent safely.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.