During the humid summer months, it’s vital that you protect yourself. Mosquitoes and ticks can both transmit potentially deadly diseases. And even if you don’t get sick, the bites from these insects are annoying. But bug sprays and other insect repelling products can be just as annoying, especially if you have a sensitive nose.
Most people are familiar with the “bug spray smell.” It’s an incredibly bitter scent that seems to coat the inside of your nose and taste buds when you accidentally breathe it in. For those with sensitive noses, the irritation of this can be enough to swear off bug sprays and risk the bites instead.
One alternative is to use essential oils as insect repellents. These natural ingredients tend to be more pleasant to the human nose than synthetic chemicals. But essential oils can also come with overpowering aromas when you have sensory issues. Some people report that they experience dizziness and headaches when the scents are too concentrated.
Best Odorless Mosquito Repellents
Our Best Pick
|#2. Sawyer Products|
In addition, you might not want to buy a scented product online if you haven’t actually smelled the scent. It’s impossible to tell from a product description how strong or potentially overpowering a smell might be. What’s mild for some people can be a distracting nuisance for others.
The logical solution is to get an unscented insect repellent. But is that even possible? Insect repellents work by confusing a mosquito’s sense of smell, shielding you and warding them away from the area. It turns out that not every odor detectable by mosquitoes is also detectable by humans. So yes, you can get some good odorless insect repellents. You just have to know where to look.
If you’re looking for an odorless or mostly-odorless insect repellent, you’ll need to stay away from essential oils. While most essential oils have odors that are pleasant to the human nose, they can also be extremely strong and potentially overpowering.
DEET is the top option for mosquito repellent. For more than fifty years, it’s performed better than any alternative in terms of mosquito repelling. However, when it’s present in high concentrations, a bitter odor might be unavoidable.
Picaridin is another popular option. This repellent has been available in the US since 2005, and it performs nearly as well as DEET.
#1. 3M SRL-12 Ultrathon Insect Repellent
This is one of the top insect repelling lotions on the market. It’s available in two-ounce bottles that are compact enough to use in travel and camping. You have your choice of buying a single bottle or three at a time.
The lotion uses a tried-and-true DEET formula to repel mosquitoes and ticks for up to eight hours. In addition, you get up to twelve hours of protection against biting insects including biting flies, gnats, chiggers, deer flies, and fleas.
One of the things that sets this lotion apart from other DEET products on the market is the time-release formula. 3M has patented a time release protection method that ensures that the active ingredients stay active and potent for longer. When you rub the lotion into your skin, you get an initial barrier of DEET protection. But you also get an additional locked-in layer of DEET that slowly releases into the air over time.
This allows the formula to work for several more hours than typical formulas with a similar concentration of DEET. Since the DEET concentration is just 35 percent, this is a good option for those who want long-lasting protection in average conditions. If you’re going into dangerous conditions, you’ll need to invest in a higher concentration.
In addition to the other components, the DEET formula is designed to be sweat and splash resistant. No matter what kind of outdoor activities you’re doing, you don’t need to worry about being vulnerable to bugs.
#2. Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
This lotion from Sawyer Products is one of the top rated on the market. Rather than using DEET as its active ingredient, each four-ounce bottle has a 20 percent concentration of Picaridin.
Picaridin is an insect repellent that was approved for use in the United States in 2005. Prior to that, it was being successfully used in Australia and the UK. Aside from DEET, this is the most effective insect repellent on the market. The CDC recommends using a 20 percent concentration, which this formula adheres to.
Picaridin performs nearly as well as DEET when it comes to warding away ticks and mosquitoes. In fact, it outperforms DEET in terms of certain flying and biting insects. There are a few other advantages that Picaridin has over DEET as well. The biggest is that Picaridin is completely safe to use with synthetic fabrics and textures, while DEET can damage or stain these things.
This particular Picaridin formula is a cutting-edge industry leader because of how long it lasts. Studies have shown that you can get up to fourteen hours of continuous protection from ticks and mosquitoes, far longer than any of the competition. You can also get a maximum of eight continuous hours of protection against sand flies, chiggers, gnats, and biting flies.
You don’t have to worry about your supplies or your clothing. Every member of the family can use this lotion without fear for their skin. It’s safe to expose materials including watches, firearm finishes, fishing line, clothing, backpacks, sunglasses, and synthetic fabrics to the lotion.
This makes the lotion a great choice for hunters, fishers, backpackers, and anyone else who uses synthetic fabrics and lines in their outdoor adventures. There’s nothing worse than realizing that your insect repellent has damaged your gear. You can avoid that nightmare by getting a Picaridin formula instead of DEET.
#3. Avon Bug Guard Towelettes with Picaridin
This is another scent-free Picaridin option on the market. Unlike the previous two options, though, the insect repellent comes in the form of wipes rather than lotion. Wipes can sometimes be easier to use than lotion, as they’re already pre-saturated with the right amount of formula. However, you might find the use of them wasteful. It all depends on your perspective.
Each package of Avon wipes includes eight insect repellent saturated wipes. Every individual wipe comes with 0.3 liquid ounces of insect repellent. Since Picaridin is used instead of DEET, all your synthetic fabrics and materials are safe. You don’t have to worry about your fishing gear, backpacks, clothing, or anything else.
The wipes are packaged in a resealable bag, so you don’t have to worry about them drying out. They’ve been proven to repel biting midges, sand flies, gnats, no-seeums, deer ticks, and mosquitoes. While the Picaridin might have a very slight odor, it shouldn’t be strong enough to bother the majority of those with sensitive noses.
The wipes have been dermatologist tested to make sure they’re safe to use on your skin. Picaridin is approved by the CDC and FDA for use on human skin. In addition, the formula is oil free, so you don’t have to worry about breakouts. The manufacturer does specify that you’ll need to wash the residue off of your skin after you come indoors.
The wipes use a concentration of 10 percent Picaridin rather than 20 percent. As such, they aren’t quite as effective as the formulas recommended by the CDC. But they still provide ideal insect repelling qualities.
If you want a DEET-free insect repellent option that comes in wipe form, the Avon wipes are a good option. Each package comes with eight total wipes, each of which is saturated with 0.3 fluid ounces of insect repellent. The formula uses Picaridin, which is the next most powerful mosquito repellent on the market aside from DEET. The wipes are free of oils and come in a resealable package so they won’t dry out.
For those looking for a DEET-free lotion, the Sawyer Products option has you covered. It uses 20 percent Picaridin, which is the concentration recommended by the CDC. Each four-ounce bottle of lotion has enough product to go a long way. The product has been tested and shown to repel both ticks and mosquitoes for a maximum of fourteen hours after being applied.
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true option, the 3M lotion is an odorless choice that uses DEET. The 35 percent DEET concentration is strong enough to keep the majority of bloodsucking insects away while not being overwhelming. Those who are entering dangerously infested areas might want to consider purchasing higher concentrations, but these might also not be odorless. Each tube has 2 ounces of lotion and can provide up to eight hours of continuous mosquito and tick protection. You also get up to twelve hours of protection against all other insects.