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Bugging out? These 5 insect repellents actually work, shoppers say

Ditch the itch with tried-and-true picks from Repel, OFF! and more — they've attracted thousands of five-star reviews.

person applying bug spray
The heat is bad enough — don't surrender your summer to bug bites too. (Getty)

One of the best parts about summer is getting to spend more time outdoors. But whether you're camping, hiking or lounging by the pool, pesky bugs are always trying to ruin the party, so a reliable insect repellent is a must.

Some of the more popular bug sprays include ingredients like DEET or picaridin, which are EPA- and CDC-approved. But which ones actually work? We turned to Amazon shoppers for answers, rounding up top-selling mosquito repellents and bug sprays that reviewers vouch for by the thousands. Shop these wildly popular repellents to keep the bugs at bay.

This nongreasy option, made with 15% DEET, is designed to apply evenly and dry in seconds — particularly nice if you're spraying squirmy kids. The aerosol can also means you can cover the skin more quickly, leaving more time for adventures.

"My family is fussy about skin-care products," a reviewer said. "They must be Goldilocks perfection to please our crew. This product has a gentle scent and feels dry going on. While my kids don't love wearing bug spray, they'll wear this, so we've been using it for about three summers now. No complaints."

$8 at Amazon

This nongreasy repellent staves off mosquitos for up to 14 hours and ticks, chiggers, flies and fleas for up to eight hours. You can use it on your skin and clothes, and if you hate the strong smell of most bug sprays, take note: It's odorless.

"This is the best product to keep ticks and flies and other insects away," said one five-star fan. "I live out in the boonies, lots of tall grass and trees. The ticks are terrible this year. Impossible to even walk out to the garden without getting many ticks. I have horses, so I have many flies, but with this product, I can wear shorts and [neither] the flies nor the ticks even come close."

$18 at Amazon

With a hefty 40% dose of DEET, this long-lasting repellent is a favorite among those who spend all day in the great outdoors. It aims to ward off mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, ticks and other pests for up to eight hours.

"Wow! What a difference!" exclaimed a relieved reviewer. "It's been crazy hot lately and the mosquitoes are out like crazy. My old Off can ran out and I ended up ordering this double package. The spray goes on so much nicer than an aerosol can, the smell isn't as potent (I'm not running away gasping for air) and it definitely worked! I could notice the difference right away. (Mosquitoes usually love me, but I didn't have one land on me after I used this.)"

$19 at Amazon

If you prefer something more natural, Repel's lemon eucalyptus oil formula aims to send mosquitoes packing for up to six hours, and it doesn't feel greasy or sticky, fans say.

"The literal best. Buy it, now. I live in Northern Maine, tons of bugs all the time, and this is all I use now," said a devotee. "Traditional bug sprays give me a massive headache but this works fantastically. The smell is strong but not overly offensive. Black flies buzz but don't land, and mosquitoes stay far away. I can actually do work outside again and not get sick from the smell of bug repellent."

$20 at Amazon

This water-based, travel-friendly DEET formula is a winner, Amazon shoppers say, and these spray bottles are small enough to take through airport security without getting confiscated. 

"I live in a very dry area and we don't really have biting bugs or mosquitoes, but when I travel anywhere humid I get eaten alive," a buyer wrote. "I've used other repellents and still get some bites. After reading positive reviews, I bought Ben's for our trip to Costa Rica and used it faithfully every morning. I only got one bite the entire trip, and that's only because I went and briefly sat outside one evening after I had showered and washed off all of this product."

$22 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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