Best Bug Sprays for 2023 - CNET - Broadlink Data Services, LLC.
June 16, 2023
Why You Can Trust CNET
Our wellness advice is expert-vetted. Our top picks are based on our editors’ independent research, analysis, and hands-on testing. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission.Reviews ethics statement
If you prefer to avoid aerosol sprays, Proven makes a great picaridin-based pump spray insect repellent. Picaridin is a synthetic compound derived from piperine, a chemical compound found in the family of plants that produces black pepper. It’s not as odorous as DEET, and according to some research, picaridin is equally as effective at repelling bugs as DEET.
The Proven picaridin pump spray is the only one I found to be truly odorless during my testing. I probably would have looked crazy to bystanders if they saw me smelling my skin and clothes to catch a whiff of this stuff. No scent!
For a pump spray, it doesn’t have a bad texture. This bug spray goes on pretty light and I only had to rub it in a tiny bit. It absorbed quickly. Of all the bug sprays I’ve used in my life, this was my first time trying Proven, and I’ll likely buy it in the future.
I’m obsessed with these permethrin insect repellents from Sawyer. I sprayed all of my fabric patio furniture and the tarp covering my home gym equipment. Permethrin is an insect repellent designed for clothes and gear — it is not to be used on the skin or on clothes while you’re wearing them. Seriously, heed the safety instructions.
The aerosol permethrin creates a nice wide, even, fast spray. I coated my outdoor furniture with this easily in a few seconds. The pump spray is less convenient, but still good.
While the bottles say the product is odorless, I noticed a slight odor while using the sprays. It smelled similar to spray paint, but far less potent. These bottles aren’t something I’d want to travel with — they’re rather large — so I would recommend spraying your gear before you head out for a camping trip or other outdoor adventure.
Sawyer’s permethrin spray lasts up to six weeks or through six washes.
For extremely packable insect repellent, try wipes. I like Ben’s 30% DEET wipes because I know they’re effective and they’re easy to take anywhere. You can easily take insect repellent wipes on planes, toss a few in your day bag for unexpected bugginess and equip yourself with lightweight repellent for multiday outdoor excursions.
Wipes are also great if you don’t like spraying or rubbing lotion onto your skin — instead of rubbing dirt on your skin while applying spray, these wipes actually clean your skin while adding bug protection. Wipes also make it easier to protect your skin while avoiding damage to your clothes. (At higher concentrations, DEET can leave marks on certain fabrics.)
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.