A “buyer beware” from Consumer Reports when it comes to certain insect repellents. With a quick internet search, you can find easy DIY homemade insect repellent concoctions.
The idea of using a repellent with more natural ingredients might sound appealing, but Consumer Reports has a warning: The risks are just not worth it.
“Mosquitoes and ticks spread dangerous diseases like West Nile and Lyme, so it’s super important you use an insect repellent that actually works,” said Catherine Roberts, a science journalist with Consumer Reports. “Homemade repellents haven’t been tested for efficacy or safety. So, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work. And ingredients like essential oils can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.”
For years, Consumer Reports has tested many varieties of insect repellents, including many with natural ingredients. Each time the results are similar: The most effective repellents include those that contain 25% to 30% deet.
“Our tests also found that some non-deet repellents, like those that contain 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus or 20% picaridin, worked too — though not as consistently as deet,” Roberts said.
Two repellents Consumer Reports recommends for providing excellent protection based on its rigorous tests:
- 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8 for about $13.85
- Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump for about $14.99
What about repellent alternatives that you don’t put on your skin but claim to keep the bugs away?
“When it comes to citronella candles, wristbands, and sonic repellents -- there’s just very little evidence that shows that any of these really work,” Roberts said.
Consumer Reports says here are some proven tips to help keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay:
- Keep your yard free of containers filled with water.
- Keep your lawn mowed and free of leaves and other debris.
- Use an oscillating fan -- that goes back and forth -- to create air movement to keep pesky, biting bugs away in the immediate area.