What makes the best mosquito repellent in 2020? Is it how strong it is (as in, how much DEET it contains)? Is it one that smells the nicest and doesn’t feel too overpowering? Or is it a spray that’s incredibly long-lasting and ensures that you’ll be fully protected from bugs and insects all day long while you’re on holiday? Whatever it is that qualifies a repellent as the best mosquito repellent in 2020, you definitely want one that protects you and possibly the whole family from being bitten to death by those pesky bugs! I’ve split this guide on the best mosquito repellent in 2020 into numerous different sections. You can find the best overall, the best smelling, the best long-lasting and even the best mosquito repellent for kids! I know how irritating it can be when being bitten by a plethora of bugs and insects while you’re just trying to enjoy your holiday. So hopefully this extensive guide will help to reduce your annoyance when travelling to warmer climates.
To Save You Some Time
In my view, the best mosquito repellent you can buy in 2020 is the Sawyer Premium offering.
And that's not all! You can see/read more about it below in the main review.
Avoid this repellent
One mosquito repellent that I’m not a huge fan of however is the Thermacell R-4 Mosquito Repellent Refills. This is because of the numerous complaints I’ve heard about how ineffective they are. You don’t actually spray anything on your skin and instead, you just create an area around yourself where insects and mosquitos supposedly can’t penetrate. However, from what I’ve read online, The Thermacell R-4 refills aren’t very effective and you’re better off buying sprays instead.
Having said that
There are a number of other good repellents for you to consider. My hope is that the piece gives you plenty of information and inspiration to decide which repellent is best for you. And if you have any questions about these repellents please leave a comment below. Or if you have a personal review you want to share, again leave a comment below. I also want you to know that this article is not sponsored in any way by any company. These repellents have been independently selected by myself and my team. And the only thing I receive is a small commission from the Amazon affiliate program if you buy any of them through the links and price buttons on this page. It doesn’t cost you a penny. But it really helps me out as this money goes to paying for maintaining the website, editing software, my time and everything else that goes into preparing this post. You should also bear in mind that these insights are for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. You should consult with your physician before purchasing any of the products or recommendations in this article. Okay, let’s get on with it.
The Top 9 Best Mosquito Repellents in 2020
1. Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent – best overallPrice
When I was conducting research for this guide on the best mosquito repellent in 2020, I saw that Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent came up time and again as the very best of the bunch. Not only does it receive critical acclaim from a plethora of online resources and review platforms, but I’ve also heard great things about it from my friends who’ve tried and tested it in real life. So I have no qualms with naming it as the best mosquito repellent in 2020 overall. The Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent stands out from the rest of its competitors as it contains picaridin as opposed to DEET. This 20% picaridin is known to be as effective as DEET at protecting against mosquitos and other little niggly bugs and insects. But it’s not quite as intense or strong-smelling.
Picaridin has been shown to be just as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitoes but does not have the same greasy feel as DEET
If you’ve ever accidentally inhaled too sharply when spraying bug spray containing DEET, you’ll know exactly how uncomfortable and intense it is! Another reason why I chose Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent as the best bug spray overall is because it comes in numerous different bottles and containers, depending on your personal preference. For example, some people prefer a direct spray that goes straight onto the skin. Some prefer a lotion that you rub into your skin and others might prefer a pump bottle. The beauty of the Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent is that it offers so many different bottles, tubes and spray cans that you can choose one to suit your desired method of application! Furthermore, the Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent is ideal for use on the whole family and it doesn’t damage or stain clothing or any other fabrics. The Sawyer brand claims that their Premium Mosquito Repellent lasts for up to 12 hours. However, from what I can tell from various review sources online, you should expect a realistic lasting power of around 8 hours. This is still pretty incredible as it means that you can apply it on a morning before you head out for the day, and you shouldn’t really have to worry about reapplying it. One of the only downsides that I read about this mosquito repellent was that because it doesn’t include DEET, it’s not quite as strong or powerful and therefore doesn’t hold up quite as well in environments where you can expect a plethora of different bugs and insects such as on hiking expeditions in the forest, for example. However, the Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent is a great option for everyday use if you’re travelling as a family to hotter climates where mozzies and midges are prone to live.
- Comes in many different forms
- Suitable for the whole family
- Long lasting
- Not quite strong enough for protecting while hiking
2. Natrapel Mosquito Repellent – best sell outPrice
Another one of the best mosquito repellents for 2020 that kept cropping up time and again was the Natrapel Mosquito Repellent. And as it seemed to be so highly sought-after, I thought I’d include it as “second in command” on this list! The Natrapel Mosquito Repellent is often compared to the Sawyer one above, but of course with a few slight differences. Firstly, it seems to be in much higher demand than the Sawyer Premium Mosquito Repellent as I read multiple reviews of people who struggled to purchase it during the height of summer; AKA, when people require insect repellent the most! Of course, the fact that it sells out pretty frequently suggests that it’s very good and that people love it. This is definitely a great reason to want to buy it. But then on the other hand, if it’s constantly sold out and you can never get your hands on it, then it can prove to be quite frustrating too! A couple of downsides that I’ve discovered about the Natrapel Mosquito Repellent is that even though it comes in a spraying mist can, it doesn’t evenly spray quite as well as the Sawyer repellent. This, of course, isn’t too much of an issue, providing that you pay attention and are fairly accurate when spraying the Natrapel Mosquito Repellent.
Natrapel Mosquito Repellent is incredibly effective at protecting the whole family against nasty bites from mosquitos and various other bugs!
Furthermore, despite the fact that the Natrapel Mosquito Repellent contains picaridin (same as Sawyer) and not DEET, I’ve heard a few people claim that it still has quite a strong perfume scent. This shouldn’t dissuade you too much, however. The Natrapel Mosquito Repellent is incredibly effective at protecting the whole family against nasty bites from mosquitos and various other bugs! One review I read online even claimed that it worked effectively when they were hiking through muddy swamps; a notorious breeding crowd for all creatures that love to bite! In summation, the Natrapel Mosquito Repellent is a great mosquito repellent. And this despite how it tends to sell out pretty rapidly during the summer months, this only proves to me how much people love it! If you can manage to get your hands on a bottle or two, don’t waste the opportunity to do so!
- Good for the whole family
- Suitable for spraying on clothes and hair if needed
- Fairly long lasting
- Quite difficult to find and buy online
3. REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent – best smellingPrice
Another DEET-free product (see the section at the bottom for more information on DEET), the REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent is on my list of the best mosquito repellent in 2020 due to the fact that it’s generally considered to be the best smelling. While I’ve heard that it does tend to have a pretty strong lemon scent, it’s much better and more pleasant that the intense smell you get from DEET-containing repellents.
It’s free from any nasty or harmful chemicals or ingredients so can be used on the whole family.
The REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent is also another great spray that can be used on the whole family. This is because it’s free from any nasty or harmful chemicals or ingredients and instead includes CDC-approved natural ingredients that have been proven to repel ticks and mosquitos and reduce the risk of contracting any harmful diseases or illnesses. The REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent claims to last for up to 8 hours, but from what I could gather from various online review sources, most people had to reapply every 6 hours. The lasting power of the REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent isn’t quite as good as some of its competitors, but 6 hours’ worth of use is still pretty good in my opinion. I believe that anything much less than 6 hours of lasting power for an insect or mosquito repellent isn’t a good investment as you will spend a lot of time reapplying and you’ll also go through more bottles quicker. This mosquito repellent also comes available in packs of 1, 2 or 6 spray bottles so you can choose the package that will suit the amount that you’re likely to go through. While it might not be quite as long-lasting as some other mosquito repellents featured in this list, I’d still highly recommend the REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Mosquito Repellent due to its pleasant lemon eucalyptus scent and the fact that it’s suitable for children.
- Doesn’t include DEET
- Relatively nice scent
- Comes in a variety of packs
- Not quite as long-lasting as some others
4. Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent – best sunscreen and repellentPrice
In recent years, my wife has me so many great things about the Avon Skin-so-Soft products so when I found out that they had their own mosquito repellent too, I just knew I had to do some further investigating so I could include it in this round-up. The Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent is not only an effective insect repellent, but it’s also an SPF 30 sunscreen as well! This means that it’s the perfect product for the whole family and is suitable for a vast array of different climates and temperatures. Not only will you be highly protected from the intense sun rays, but you’ll also have a good layer of protection from mosquitos too. The main ingredient in the Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent that makes it an insect repellent is IR3535 which is considered to have a similar level of protection to that of picaridin.
Only use the Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent in countries where you might get bitten by mosquitos, but you’re very unlikely to actually contract any illness from them.
While it’s said to be relatively effective at repelling insects, it might not work too well in countries and areas where mosquito-borne and tick-borne illnesses are prominent. Therefore, I’d recommend only using the Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent in countries where you might get bitten by mosquitos, but you’re very unlikely to actually contract any illness from them. Having said that, the Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent appears to be an absolute dream to apply as it has the consistency of a sunscreen, but the effectiveness of an insect repellent. It’s relatively non-greasy which is something I personally love about this mosquito repellent as I absolutely hate having to apply any lotion, cream or spray that leaves my skin feeling exceptionally greasy and oily! The Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent is also ideal for use on babies and children over the age of 6 months old, so if you’re travelling with the whole family, you can rest assured that you’ll all be well protected! While it might not be quite as highly effective as products containing higher-strength repellent chemicals, the Avon Skin-so-Soft Mosquito Repellent is a great choice of mosquito repellent as it’s also a sunscreen too!
- Contains sunscreen as well
- Moisturising as well as protective
- Relatively non-greasy
- Needs frequent reapplication as it’s not very long lasting
5. Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent – best all-naturalPrice
If you feel particularly uneasy about applying insect repellents to your skin that includes many different ingredients that you’ve never heard of, then you’ll be highly interested in the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent. This all-natural spray doesn’t include anything like DEET, picaridin or IR3535; instead it includes only natural ingredients such as Soybean Oil, Cedarwood Oil, Citronella Oil and Peppermint Oil. However, as these natural ingredients don’t quite have the intensity or strength to fully repel mosquitos and other insects, the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent isn’t quite as effective as some other sprays and lotions on this list. Therefore, you can be expected to have to reapply the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent every hour or so if you want to ensure that you’ll get the maximum protection possible. I think the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent is an excellent trade-off between protecting the whole family from flies, ticks and mosquitos, and ensuring that you’re only using all-natural ingredients on your skin. Of course, it’s entirely your choice as to whether you’d prefer to be consistently highly protected or whether you’d rather reapply more frequently and ensure you’re using natural ingredients. As for the smell of the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent, I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some people claim that it’s much more pleasant smelling than products containing DEET as it doesn’t have that intense smell. However, some other people have claimed that while it’s not necessarily a terrible smell, the combination of all the different natural ingredients is quite prominent. Personally, I think that any insect repellents that don’t include the strong smell of DEET are an instant winner in my book! Overall, the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent is a great mosquito repellent as it includes natural ingredients, it’s ideal for use on kids and doesn’t feel too greasy when applying.
- Ideal for kids
- Not too greasy
- All-natural ingredients
- Not quite as highly effective as others as it is all-natural
6. 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion– best long-lastingPrice
If you’re looking for an incredibly long-lasting and highly effective mosquito repellent, then without a doubt the one you need to consider is the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion. This insect repellent contains 34.34% of DEET which of course has both its pros and cons. The downsides of using an insect-repelling containing DEET is that it’s a very strong chemical, with quite an intense scent and therefore can feel very unpleasant to use. However, the huge bonus of using mosquito repellents that contain DEET is that you’ll benefit from a high level of protection from bugs and various insects. The 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion is said to have over 12 hours of long-lasting protection against mosquitos and ticks and from various sources online, I can certainly vouch for this impressive lasting power.
It contains controlled release technology that provides you with a continuous level of protection
One of the great stand-out features of the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion that I personally found particularly intriguing is that it contains controlled release technology that provides you with a continuous level of protection throughout the day. Depending on how long you plan to be outside for, you should really only have to apply this once a day and then you’re good to go. This is much better and more effective than even some of the other mosquito repellents featured on this list where you might have to reapply multiple times a day. I think if you don’t mind the fact that the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion contains a fairly high concentration of DEET and you’d rather be well-protected for hours on end, then this is a great insect repellent. I would advise using this repellent with caution on young children as the high concentration of DEET and other chemicals might not be suitable for their delicate skin. However, for adults looking for a strong and long-lasting mosquito repellent that will protect them all day long in many different climates and environments, the 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion is a great choice for you.
- 12+ hours of protection
- Good for hiking
- Excellent protection against mosquitos and other insects
- Quite a high percentage of DEET
7. Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent – best for kidsPrice
Similarly to the Quantum Buzz-Away Mosquito Repellent, the Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent is an all-natural bug and insect spray. Instead of chemicals such as DEET or picaridin, the Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent uses natural ingredients such as citronella oil, cedarwood oil, geranium oil and peppermint oil. However, the vast make-up of this predominantly oil-based insect repellent is soybean oil (over 95%). Unfortunately, due to the vast quantities of oil-based products used in the Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent, it means that it feels incredibly oily to apply and can leave a residue for a little while before it properly sinks into your skin. Personally, I wouldn’t enjoy that oily feeling at all, but if you can get passed that, then the Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent is a great insect and mosquito repellent that can be used on the whole family. I chose the Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent as the best mosquito repellent in 2020 for kids as it can be used on children as young as a couple of months old. One thing to bear in mind about this product, however, is that due to the high levels of oil products used as ingredients, it can be known to attract bees thanks to its sweet-smelling essential oils. While I certainly didn’t hear of any issues with bee stings, this is something to bear in mind if you or any of your family are allergic to bees as you might not want to use this in case it attracts bees. The Babyganics Insect & Mosquito Repellent might not be quite as long-lasting or as highly effective as some stronger insect repellents, but it is a great contender for the best mosquito repellent in 2020 for children thanks to its predominant use of all-natural ingredients and essential oils.
- Great for use on very young babies and children
- Natural ingredients
- Good for low-risk mosquito areas
- Quite oily and strong smelling
8. REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent – best for sportsPrice
While of course all the mosquito repellents featured on this list are designed to be used outdoors, there’s potentially no better product than the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent if you’re looking for all-day protection in various different climates and conditions. I’ve chosen the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent as the best insect repellent for sports and general active outdoors use as it contains 40% DEET. This means that it’s highly effective at protecting against ticks, gnats, mosquitos and various other biting flies and fleas. Thanks to the high concentration of DEET, the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent is particularly effective at repelling mosquitos that may be carrying diseases such as Dengue and Zika. If you’re travelling to countries and will be partaking in plenty of outdoor activities where you might be exposed to many mosquitos and ticks in swampy, dense fields or water-based areas, then the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent is a great option for you. Of course, you have to bear in mind that it contains a high concentration of DEET so you will have to weigh up the pros and cons of using such a high level of this chemical on your skin. I personally think that the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent is a much better choice for frequent outdoor activities where dangerous mosquitos will be prevalent rather than the Babyganics or Quantum Buzz-Away spray, for example. When travelling to high-risk places, you need to make sure you get as much protection as you can, and I think the REPEL HG-24101 6 Oz Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent will be a great aid.
- Long lasting
- Great for sports and plenty of outdoor use
- Easy pump
- Strong contents of DEET
9. Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray – best compact sizePrice
Despite being named “100% repellent”, Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray actually has a 98% concentration of DEET, not quite the full 100%. Of course, this is still an exceptionally high level of DEET content. And is by far the most concentrated DEET product in this list of the best mosquito repellents in 2020. Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray is known to last between 10-12 hours. So it’s a great option if you don’t want to spend time reapplying throughout the day. Due to the high level of DEET content however, it’s not suitable for use on babies or children; the chemicals aren’t appropriate for younger skin.
It’s TSA-compliant size so you can take it on the plane in your hand luggage, providing that it’s in a clear plastic bag.
One reason in particular that I chose to add the Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray to my list of the best insect repellents in 2020 is that it’s TSA-compliant size. This means that it can be taken on the plane in your hand luggage, providing that it’s in a clear plastic bag. This way, you don’t have to worry about it being thrown out if you’re only travelling with hand luggage. But you still need to take insect repellent with you. Furthermore, despite this mosquito repellent containing a high level of DEET, I’ve heard from numerous other sources that it’s actually relatively fragrance-free. While it might not exactly smell like roses, some people have claimed that they found the smell tolerable, as opposed to downright unpleasant. I think that the Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray is the best mosquito repellent in 2020 if you’re looking for a small, compact travel-sized spray that’s very long-lasting and will repel mosquitos carrying viruses such as Zika, Lyme Disease and Dengue Fever.
- Good level of long-lasting protection
- Relatively fragrance free
- TSA approved and travel sized
- Large content of DEET
What is DEET?
DEET was developed by the United States Army in 1946 to protect soldiers against insect-infested areas. Over the last 70+ years, many companies and brands have brought out their own version of DEET products and there are now many products available that you can use to repel mosquitos and other insects and bugs using DEET. It’s not quite clear whether or not DEET is particularly harmful to humans or not, but it is certain that it’s exceptionally effective at repelling insects and mosquitos.
How to choose the best mosquito repellent
Below, you can find some of my top tips on how to choose the best mosquito and insect repellent.
- Look for a product that’s long-lasting. I would recommend at least 6+ hours for a spray that contains DEET, picaridin or IR3535, or 1+ hour if it’s an all-natural spray.
- Consider whether you want to use a DEET product or not. They are usually much more effective and long-lasting but they’re incredibly strong and have a very intense smell.
- Read the label before you buy so you’re aware of the exact contents of all the ingredients in the insect repellent.
- Check whether your insect repellent of choice is appropriate for use on children. Most repellents should be OK for children over 6 months of age, but it can differ with each product so always double check.
- Think about the application process of the insect repellent. Is it a spray, lotion or pump bottle? While it might not seem that important, it will actually make a huge difference as to whether it’s a pleasant application process or not.
You may also find my insights on sleeping bags and suitcases useful.