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The 7 Best Mosquito Repellents to Prevent Bugs From Taking Over Your Yard

Protect your deck, patio and other outdoor spaces with these effective sprays.

mosquito repellant

We updated this article in March 2022 to ensure all products vetted by the Home Improvement Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock and accurately priced. We also added more findings from our reviews, as well as highlights about why we love each repellant and questions to consider before you buy.

With warmer temperatures come summer cookouts, backyard pool parties and — we hate to say it — tons of mosquitos. While humid environments are better breeding grounds for these pesky bugs, they can survive almost anywhere, as long as they have access to water. But just because their presence is inevitable doesn't mean you have to suffer through itchy bites and annoying buzzes: Take matters into your own hands by protecting your yard with the best mosquito repellents and bug sprays.

The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute have battled all manner of backyard nuisances for decades. They can tell you why mosquito bites are so itchy (it's a reaction caused by the salivary proteins of female mosquitoes), why pregnant people tend to get munched on (the extra carbon dioxide and heat their bodies release) and which treatments provide the fastest belief (go for the 1% hydrocortisone cream).

For this report, our experts pulled together a list of the best mosquitoes repellants for keeping the bugs from reaching you in the first place.

Our top picks:

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    Best Mosquito Repellent on Amazon
    Patio Shield Mosquito Repellent

    • Cordless
    • Smoke and scent-free

    • Protection zone limited to 15 feet

    If you don't want to fiddle with sprays or candles, this cordless, scent-free device relies on heat-activated repellants to create a 15-foot bug-free zone, perfect for dinners on the deck or other small-scale outdoor entertaining. Our experts like the simplicity of the design, plus Thermacell's claim that its repellant uses EPA-approved pyrethroid as its active ingredient. To operate the Patio Shield, simply insert a 12-hour fuel cartridge and a four-hour repellant mat into the cylinder, then activate the cartridge to generate heat. As the mat becomes hot, it releases an invisible shield of repellant. A view window makes it easy to check that the device is working, and replacement fills are fairly affordable, costing about $20 for 48 hours of protection, good for plenty of hot summer nights.

    RELATED: Mosquito Repellent Plants to Keep Pests Away

    Best Value Mosquito Repellent
    Backyard Bug Control
    Now 47% off

    • Lasts up to 12 weeks
    • Treats 5,000 square feet of landscaping

    • Garden hose required

    This is a more aggressive solution that's formulated not just to repel mosquitoes and other pests, but to kill them dead, using the EPA-registered insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin. Our experts say Cutter is a good fit for large backyards, but it needs to be applied safely and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep it away from sewers and storm drains, where it could enter rivers, lakes, and other waterways. If children or pets are present, it's important to keep them away until the spray is thoroughly dry.

    The major upside to sprays like Backyard Bug Control is their ease of use. Simply attach your hose to the sprayer bottle and you'll be able to reach every nook and cranny of your yard. A single bottle treats up to 5,000 square feet of landscaping, lawn and other outdoor terrain. Even rainy or humid weather won't get in its way: It kills mosquitos, ants, fleas, ticks and other insects for up to 12 weeks (a.k.a. all summer long).

    Best Lantern Mosquito Repellent
    Mosquito Repellent Lantern

    • Cordless
    • Flameless

    • Batteries required for light

    Like its brand-mate in this roundup, the Patio Shield, this Thermacell device is meant to keep mosquitoes from flying into your space with the use of a heat-activated repellant. Our product experts like that it also allows you to illuminate your patio or deck thanks to its built-in, battery-powered lantern. Operation is the same as with Patio Shield and replacement fills cost the same $20 for 48 hours of mosquito protection.

    Best Outdoor Mosquito Repellent Candle
    Mosquito Repellent Candle
    Murphy's Naturals
    Now 20% off

    • 30-hour burn time
    • Pleasant scent

    • Open flame requires monitoring

    Although it isn't a permanent solution, our experts say lighting a citronella candle is a tried-and-true way to temporarily ward off mosquitos. This pick from Murphy's Naturals has glowing Amazon reviews due to its 30-hour burn time and refreshing scent of rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass and cedarwood. "While we always remind readers that ‘natural’ is not a regulated term, our review of the candle's active ingredients list found them to be plant-based botanical oils, which are considered minimum risk biopesticides by EPA,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., executive director of the GH Institute's Health, Beauty & Sustainability Lab. Along with citronella, most of the other oils in this candle have also been shown to have some repellent efficacy against mosquitos.

    Best Mosquito Repellent for Water
    Mosquito Dunks
    Now 39% off

    • Pet-safe
    • Lasts up to 30 days

    • Doesn't deal with live mosquitoes

    Here's another option for eliminating mosquitoes at their source. Stick one of these small (but mighty) circles in any bird baths, ponds, plant trays or flood-prone areas up to 100 square feet to kill mosquito larvae for 30 days. But don't worry about fish or other wildlife, says our expert team: BTI, the EPA-registered ingredient in this product, only kills mosquito larvae and is non-toxic to people, pets and other animals.

    Best Repellent Spray for More than Just Mosquitoes
    Flea & Tick Spray

    • Kills pests at every stage of life cycle
    • Treats up to 5,000 square feet

    • Repeat applications needed

    For a plant-based option, treat up to 5,000 square feet with this spray from Wondercide, which uses a combination of cedarwood oil, sesame oil and sodium lauryl sulfate to kill mosquitoes, as well as fleas and ticks, at any and every stage of the life cycle. Spray twice within two to 10 days to ensure that you're getting rid of all pests, and then continue to spray as needed.

    Best Mosquito Repellent with Mild Scent
    Mosquito Repelling Granules
    dr. t's
    Dr. T's

    • Biodegradable formula
    • Fast-acting

    • Fertilizer spreader required for large yards

    Our experts like this different take on mosquito control, especially if you have a lot of property to protect. Simply sprinkle the granules straight from the container or apply them to your lawn (up to 4,000 square feet) with a fertilizer spreader. According to the manufacturer, the biodegradable combination of lemongrass, mint and garlic oils naturally repels mosquitos within an hour of spreading and lasts from two to three weeks. Though it's claimed to be safe for pets, our experts point out that it falls under California's Proposition 65, which warns consumers about the risk of chemical exposure.

    RELATED: How to Naturally Repel Mosquitoes Safely and Effectively, According to Experts

    How we choose the best mosquito repellants

    When choosing mosquito repellants, our experts start by gathering the products most commonly found on store shelves and online. They look for a wide range of solutions for different scenarios, from candles designed for small decks and patios to sprays with claimed coverage areas of up to 5,000 square feet.

    While the repellants in this report weren't lab tested, our product experts performed informal road tests in their own yards when possible. In addition, our health and sustainability experts reviewed ingredient lists to ensure products are in accordance with guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    What to look for when shopping for mosquito repellants

    Our product and health experts say to always follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This will help ensure that you're buying the most effective repellents that are also safe. To be clear, the insecticides that you use in your yard shouldn't be the same ones that you spray on your body and clothes. Normal bug sprays contain EPA-registered active ingredients like oil of lemon eucalyptus, DEET, picaridin and IR3535 — and while they can effectively repel mosquitos, ticks and flies away from you, they won't be nearly as effective for large spaces. EPA-registered ingredients designed for broad, outdoor application include things like citronella, lemongrass and cedarwood oil.

    It's also important to think about whether you want to repel mosquitoes or kill them off completely. Repellants are best for small-scale, temporary relief (think summer meals in the open air). Reach for an insecticide when your goal is to wipe out entire mosquito populations for weeks at a time, if not longer.

    How can mosquito outbreaks be prevented?

    As a general rule, the best way to reduce mosquitos — besides using top-of-the-line sprays and repellents, of course — is by emptying anything that holds water. "Remember the 'tip and toss' rule," says Craig Stoops, chief science officer for Mosquito Authority. "Tip over items that you can’t dispose of to empty water where mosquito larvae may be found. Then toss any items in your backyard that you don’t need anymore that may be sources of mosquito breeding."

    The EPA offers this additional checklist for eliminating mosquito habitats at their source:

    ✔️Drain standing water in rain gutters, old tires and buckets.

    ✔️Empty and change the water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week.

    ✔️Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.

    ✔️Replace your outdoor lights with yellow-hued lightbulbs that attract far fewer mosquitos.

    Why trust Good Housekeepikng?

    The Good Housekeeping Institute Home Improvement Lab provides expert reviews and advice on all things home-related, including lawn and yard care. In his role as Director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab, Dan DiClerico brings more than 20 years of experience to the Institute, having reviewed thousands of products for Good Housekeeping, as well as brands like This Old House and Consumer Reports.

    For this report, our review team also worked closely with Birnur Aral, Ph.D, director of the Institute's Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab. Aral's interest in sustainability dates back more than a decade to her development of criteria for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal. Her passion for the topic led to her obtaining a post-graduate certificate in sustainability management at Columbia University.

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