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Summer is coming, what’s the best mosquito repellent?

This article will help you choose from the vast array of mosquito repellents by reviewing the characteristics of all products that have been proven effective (approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)) for repelling mosquitoes.

Author: Lu Yuanxi

In the midsummer of the year, I believe that in the eyes of many people, summer is definitely synonymous with good memories.

However, in summer, there are sunshine, delicious food and beautiful scenery, and there are also mosquitoes that make everyone feel extremely troubled. In this way, for many people who want to do outdoor sports in summer, a mosquito repellent product that can effectively repel mosquitoes becomes extremely important. This article will help you choose from the vast array of mosquito repellents by reviewing the characteristics of all products that have been proven effective (approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)) for repelling mosquitoes.


The long-tested “mosquito nemesis” – N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET)

When it comes to mosquito repellent products, a considerable number of doctors will first think of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) toilet water.

As a mosquito repellant that entered the market as early as 1957, the many advantages of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) (especially in terms of preventing mosquitoes, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) is the best of all products) make it still widely used by hundreds of millions of consumers in various countries. (According to EPA statistics, nearly 30% of the population in the United States uses N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET)-containing mosquito repellent products every year), and it has become a well-deserved “gold standard” for mosquito repellent products.

In China, the vast majority of mosquito repellent toilet waters on the market are N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations with different concentrations.

N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) plays a role in repelling mosquitoes by blocking the sense of smell of mosquitoes, so that mosquitoes cannot perceive the breath of human presence.

In general, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations with a concentration of 10%-35% can protect against the bites of most insects (including mosquitoes, midges, bed bugs, tsutsugamushi, and fleas) when used correctly, although the concentration of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) is closely related to mosquito repellent efficacy. However, when the concentration exceeds 35%, the repellent efficacy does not increase.

There are many formulations of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations currently on the market, but with the exception of a few sustained-release N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations (only available in some countries) that can prolong the effective mosquito repellent time, the dosage form has little to do with the mosquito repellent effect and time.

While consumers have long expressed concerns about the safety of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET), a fully synthetic insect repellant, numerous agencies, including the EPA, believe N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) is very safe and does not pose a threat to public health under normal use. .

However, there is a very small (no more than 50 reported cases in the past 50 years) chance of limited N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) toxicity with chronic, overdose, and inappropriate use of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET).

According to the current research data, it is safe to use N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations with a concentration of 30% for children over 2 years old, but for the sake of safety, children should use a lower concentration of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) preparations, preferably no higher than 30%.

In addition, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) can corrode plastic products (including but not limited to rayon, plastic frames, paint, etc.), so be careful not to let N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) touch the plastic surface before use.

Mosquito repellent up-and-coming star – biological pesticide repellent

Although N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) has been the “main role” of mosquito repellent products in the past few decades, because N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) is not perfect, scientists have never given up the exploration of new mosquito repellent substances, which has also spawned a new category of mosquito repellent substances—— Biopesticide repellent.

So far, there are two biopesticide repellents approved by mainstream regulatory agencies (CDC, EPA, etc.): Repellent 3535(BAAPE) and Icaridin. These two kinds of mosquito repellents often appear in imported mosquito repellent products in China, because they are both very commonly used mosquito repellents in Europe.

These two kinds of mosquito repellents are developed by imitating the structure of mosquito repellent substances that appear in nature, or by targeting the biological characteristics of mosquito olfactory conduction, so they are named “biological pesticide repellents”. Both Repellent 3535(BAAPE) and icaridin can effectively prevent mosquitoes, flies and ticks from being bitten by mosquitoes, thereby avoiding the infectious diseases transmitted by these insects.

The main features of the two can be summarized as follows:

Repellent 3535(BAAPE):

By simulating the “signal molecules” that mosquitoes recognize humans, it acts as a “bait” to prevent mosquitoes from biting.

There are obvious differences in the protective efficacy and time of different repellent products under different usage methods and environments. The effective time is as short as 23 minutes and as long as 10 hours.

The main difference betweenRepellent 3535(BAAPE) and N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) is that the repellent efficacy of the former can increase with increasing concentration and does not have a capping effect. In addition, Repellent 3535(BAAPE)’s ability to protect against tick bites, an insect that can transmit several serious infectious diseases, is excellent compared to N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET), and when used correctly, Repellent 3535(BAAPE) can protect people from tick bites for up to 12 hours .


Icaridin’s structure is derived from nature’s mosquito repellent – capsaicin. In studies of higher concentrations of icaridin repellent, it was similar to N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET) formulations, repelling mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. Like Repellent 3535(BAAPE), icaridin provides better protection against ticks than N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET). According to the CDC’s assessment, the biggest advantage of icaridin is that it does not corrode plastic products and is unlikely to reach toxic doses through skin absorption.

Plant repellent mosquitoes, it is not easy to say I love you

Since ancient times, people have tried to use plants (or plant extracts) to repel mosquitoes, and although the effect has not been stable, it is still used today for “natural” reasons. Today, there are many excellent synthetic mosquito repellents, it seems that there is not much need to use plant-derived mosquito repellent products, however, there are still a few plant-derived mosquito repellent products that can provide people with a certain degree of mosquito protection (of course, No plant-based mosquito repellent is as effective as N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide(DEET)).

At present, the plant-derived mosquito repellent products that have been used to a certain extent mainly include the following:


Citronella products are the most popular plant-based mosquito repellent in many countries, but their effectiveness has been questioned. Various data on the protective efficacy of citronella products vary widely due to the huge differences in the methods, locations, and insects that are currently being studied on various citronella products.

However, according to the EPA's assessment, citronella products can still provide limited mosquito bite protection, of course, this protection can only last for tens of minutes. Due to the short protection time of citronella products, EPA recommends that citronella products must be reapplied every hour.

Lemon Eucalyptus:

Lemon eucalyptus oil, derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree, has been used for mosquito repellants for a long time, but the product was not recognized by the CDC until 2005.

Unlike other plant-derived mosquito repellent products, the main active ingredient of lemon eucalyptus oil – p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) is not only highly protective, but also has a very slow evaporation rate on the skin surface, which The protection time of such products is often very long, which can reach 4-7.5 hours.

The downside to lemon eucalyptus oil is that it is somewhat irritating to the eyes, and safety for children has not been established.

PS: The best way to use mosquito repellent products

  • When applying repellent products, only a small amount is required to cover the skin, as repellent products that soak the skin may cause skin absorption;·
  • When applying mosquito repellent products on the face, you should first pour the mosquito repellent product on your hands, wipe it evenly, and then pat a light layer on your face;·
  • Wash your hands after applying mosquito repellent products, and wash off mosquito repellent products on your skin with clean water after you finish outdoor activities, especially if you need to use mosquito repellent products in the next few days;·
  • Do not use repellent products on wounds, inflamed areas, or skin with eczema, as this may lead to systemic absorption of the repellent;·
  • There is generally no need to reapply repellents, except in the summer when you sweat a lot.
Pesticide Insecticide Deet
Biocides PHMB-Easy Chemical
Polyhexamethyleneguanidine Hydrochloride ( PHMG ) CAS No.57028-96-3
Biocides PCMX chloroxylenol
preservative DMDM Hydantoin 
DMDM Hydantoin

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