Anyone who enjoys the great outdoors is always on the hunt for the best insect repellant. Who can blame them knowing how detrimental insects, especially mosquitoes can be to our health? But there are tons of different types of insect repellants available in the market nowadays. It’s almost as if you see something new come up every other month. But what makes an insect repellant suitable for frequent users and what is the best insect repellant for you? Let’s talk about the different types of insect repellants and what ingredients they should and shouldn’t contain. Lastly, we’ll try to provide you with our list of top insect repellants available in the market.

What To Look For in An Insect Repellant

When picking a suitable insect repellant, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.

1. Active ingredients: Find an insect repellant that has a reliable and effective active ingredient. You don’t want to use something that does not work, especially when trying to fend off disease-carrying insects.

2. Is this product safe? Check to see if everyone in your family can actually use the product. Some products contain higher concentrations of active ingredients and may not be safe to use for pregnant women or children. Skim through the ingredient list as well as any other cautionary warnings before use.

3. Meeting your needs: Everyone has different needs and will use insect repellant for different scenarios. If you’re going to be physically active outdoors, find a repellant that’s more waterproof. Some insect repellants can leave residue on your clothes so that’s another aspect to look into if you don’t want your clothes ruined. Regardless, find an insect repellant that’ll work for you.

Now that we know what we should consider when picking an insect repellant let’s talk about the different types of insect repellants available in the market.

Different Types of Insect Repellants & Active Ingredients

When talking about insect repellants, it’s much easier to differentiate each one by their active ingredients. Technically, there are four popular types of insect repellants available in the market. There’s a fifth one, but we are unsure if we should include it in our list. The four main types are DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, IR3535 and 2-Undecanone. 


DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in some of the most popular insect repellants available on the market. It is highly effective in repelling all types of insects. Unfortunately, some people do exhibit allergic reactions or side effects to DEET. People who are susceptible to DEET have been known to experience seizures and various skin reactions. In some advanced cases, continuous exposure to DEET can result in cancer and even death.

The good news is that these adverse effects usually present themselves when there’s a large concentration of DEET in a product. That is why experts recommend a DEET concentration of anywhere from 15% to 30%. Products with 30% DEET and below is safe to use for children and pregnant women.


A synthetic repellent modelled after a compound found in the black pepper plant, Picaridin is one of the safer options out there. A 20% Picaridin repellant is best, but there are a few products with only 10% which also works great as well. However, there are products that provide only 5% Picaridin which offers very little in terms of protection.

Something to keep in mind, the spray form of Picaridin is much better in repelling insects than lotions or wipes – even if they offer the same concentration of the active ingredient.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE):

This active ingredient is produced by refining a naturally occurring compound found in gum eucalyptus trees. Some companies are even making it synthetically nowadays. Experts have proven that products that contain 30% of lemon eucalyptus oil work well in repelling insects.

In terms of safety, OLE products are one of the safest available. While it can still cause eye injury, it does not result in skin reactions for most people. OLE products are safe to use for pregnant women but are not recommended for kids three years old or younger.

IR3535 & 2-Undecanone:

These two compounds are part of the list of recommended insect repellants in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. IR3535 is a synthetic compound made to be structurally similar to an amino acid. 2-Undecanone, on the other hand, is a synthesized version of a compound that can be found in wild tomatoes, rue, and several other plants.

While the regulating bodies highly recommend both IR3535 and 2-Undecanone, these two offer minimal protection against insects compared to products with DEET, OLE, and Picaridin.

All-Natural Insect Repellants:

Another type of insect repellant that’s gaining popularity in the market nowadays is those that claim to be all-natural. These are usually repellants that contain essential oils from plants such as lemongrass, peppermint, citronella, cedar, clove, and rosemary. According to different tests, these products claim they can ward off mosquitoes and other insects, but most offer very little to no protection. While it can be pretty tempting to use something all-natural, it’s not backed by science.

Effective Pest Control Services in Hamilton

A huge part of keeping your home bug-free is by using the best insect repellant. That may not be enough though. Insects prefer the outdoors but sometimes do wander into our homes. Once they enter your homes, they multiply fast. When this issue isn’t solved quickly, those few insects can lead to infestations. When you feel like you have a mosquito outbreak (or any other insect) at home, you need a trusted pest control expert to nip the problem at the bud. Action Pest is the leading pest control service in Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, and other surrounding areas. They have over 40 years of experience and a highly trained team that’s prepared to tackle any pest-related issues. If you’ve got insect problems, Action Pest has the solutions. Contact Action Pest today and let our team of pest exterminators be there to assist you as soon as possible.