Best mosquito repellents: 5 top buys to ward off unwanted flying guests

Keeping the bugs at bay, these are the best mosquito repellents to prevent undesirables ruining your backyard fun

PIC Mosquito Repelling Coils 4 Pack
(Image credit: PIC)

Having the best mosquito repellent to hand is essential during the warmer months. Summertime invites people to go outside, soak up the sun, splash in the pool, or barbecue with friends. However, it also brings about pesky insects like the mosquito that can ruin your time outside with one little bite. 

With that in mind, we’ve gathered our favorite mosquito-repelling products that will protect you and your family while in your front or backyard. Just remember that one product may not do the trick, and it’s always best to use a few products at once for maximum mosquito fighting power. 

In this neat guide, we cover a variety of product types, from sprays and coils to candles and zappers. To make your hunt extra simple, we've been sure to outline the key specs of each product in our roster, detailing the range, size, life, and more. When browsing, be sure to observe what each product is best at, as well as some of the drawbacks. Whether you're looking for an all-natural option, an indoor and outdoor contender, or prevention and cure, you can rest assured it's here. 

Oh, and while you're with us, why not check out our guide to the best mosquito-repellent plants for more ways to help deter these pests.

The best mosquito repellents

PIC Mosquito Repelling Coils 4 Pack

(Image credit: PIC)

1. PIC Mosquito Repelling Coils

Best mosquito repellent overall: offers quality and quantity

Specifications
Best for: All-round performance
Coils per pack: 4
Each coil lasts: 5–7 hours
Range: Up to 10 feet
Reasons to buy
+Very effective+Affordable and portable+Burns longer than incense sticks
Reasons to avoid
-Creates smoke which may be bothersome to some

In 1895, Eiichiro Ueyama invented mosquito repellent coils in Japan. Whereas mosquito repellent sticks burn too quickly, this coil-shaped design ensures a slower burn. The coils are quite popular in various parts of Asia, and while they’ve been in the US for quite some time, not everyone has discovered their mosquito-repelling power.

Order the PIC coils and you’ll receive four coils per box. The coils are packaged in a way that two coils are combined and must be gently broken apart. After that, you stick an aluminum-like stand through the middle of the coil and light the end. It will burn in a spiral for five to seven hours, giving off a lovely scent that keeps the mosquitoes up to 10 feet away.

Murphy’s Naturals Candle

(Image credit: Murphy’s Naturals)

2. Murphy’s Naturals Candle

Best candle mosquito repellent: all-natural ingredients and a divine smell

Specifications
Best for: Plant-based ingredients
Size: 9 ounces
Lasts: Up to 30 hours
Range: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+Portable+Lasts up to 30 hours+All-natural, plant-based materials
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat expensive among citronella candles-Not for indoor use

Mosquitoes are not a fan of Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle – but we are! Once you light this candle, you’ll quickly smell the rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, and cedarwood oils. 

As the company’s name implies, this candle is all-natural, which means it has been produced without petroleum, dyes, synthetic fragrances, or harsh chemicals. In fact, it’s a 100% soy and beeswax blend in a recycled tin, making for an even and clean burn for up to 30 hours. 

The lovely aroma, candlelight, and the lack of mosquitos will have you ordering a caseload of these lovely candles for your porches, patios, and backyard. In fact, if you're after outdoor lighting ideas, this is the perfect fix – pretty and practical.

Cutter Backyard Bug Control

(Image credit: Cutter)

3. Cutter Backyard Bug Control

Best spray mosquito repellent: an enduringly effective product, covering plenty of space

Specifications
Best for: Prevention and cure
Size: 32 fluid ounces
Lasts: Up to 12 weeks
Range: 5,000 square feet of lawn
Reasons to buy
+Works quickly+Easy-to-use hose-end spray with QuickFlip nozzle+Rids lawn of other insects like ants, mites, and beetles
Reasons to avoid
-Must apply when there’s no forecast of rain-Is highly toxic to domestic animals, aquatic creatures, and bees

If you’re the kind of person who can’t walk into your backyard without getting bitten by 10 mosquitoes, then you’re going to want to purchase Cutter Backyard Bug Control. Simply hook your garden hose to one end and the pressure of the water will mix with the chemicals in the bottle. Once you release the flip lock, it will spray up to 5,000 square feet of lawn.

It kills mosquitoes almost immediately and has the potential to keep the mosquito population low for eight to 12 weeks (there is some debate among reviewers on how rain affects the potency). 

Carpenter ants, lady beetles, earwigs, house crickets, fleas, fire ants, mites, flies, among a few other insects are also targets of this spray. While you’re not likely to get rid of all mosquitoes with Cutter Backyard Bug Control, its effects will be noticeable to the person who is often the target of a mosquito swarm. 

Just be aware that the product is toxic to pets (for a day or so) and bees – in other words do not use where pets play or where you have lots of bee friendly plants nearby.

Thermacell Cambridge Mosquito Repellent Lantern

(Image credit: Thermacell)

4. Thermacell Cambridge Mosquito Repellent Lantern

Best lantern mosquito repellent: a stylish and competent choice

Specifications
Best for: Style
Size: 4.7 x 5 x 7.1 inches
Lasts: Up to 4 hours (per repellent mat) / up to 12 hours (fuel)
Range: 15 feet
Reasons to buy
+No scent or spray+Portable and battery-powered+Doubles as a soft-light lantern with a hook
Reasons to avoid
-One repellent mat only lasts four hours-Must continually buy fuel and repellent mats

If you’re not a fan of mosquito repellent scents or sprays, you’ll want to purchase the Thermacell Cambridge Mosquito Repellent Lantern. In addition to being a battery-powered lantern, it repels mosquitoes within a 15-foot zone without sprays or smells.

After inserting a blue-colored repellent mat on the top of the lantern, add a fuel insert in the center of the lantern. Push the start button one to three times, until you see an orange glow in the view window. You’ll need to wait 15 minutes for the mosquito repellent to fully create a shield. Once the repellent mat turns white, it’s time to replace it. 

You can get anywhere between 12 to 300 hours of protection with one fuel insert (depending on the insert you buy), and up to four hours of repellent with one repellent mat.

TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper for Indoor and Outdoor

(Image credit: TOMPOL)

5. TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper for Indoor and Outdoor

Best electrical mosquito repellent: technically, it's a trap, not a repellent

Specifications
Best for: Instant solution
Size: 11.57 x 6.77 x 6.57 inches
Lasts: 3 hours per use (cable-powered)
Range: 1500 square feet
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Can be used indoors+Catches mosquitoes and other insects while you sleep+Easy to clean
Reasons to avoid
-Can't be used without being plugged in

The TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper is the only product on the list that doesn’t technically repel mosquitoes. It attracts mosquitos with a blue UV light before zapping them with a 4200-volt electric shock. 

Place this trap on your bedside table, plug it in and wake up the next morning to discover a large collection of dead mosquitoes, gnats, and flies. A waterproofed product, it doesn't make noise when in use and works just as well in the garden as it does the bedroom.

How to keep mosquitoes away

Fighting mosquitoes is a multi-front battle. Here are some things you can do around your garden to keep those bloodsuckers at bay.

Get rid of standing water
Mosquitoes breed in standing water so make sure that your yard has proper drainage to prevent standing water from occurring. While some drainage solutions are expensive, you can always make small adjustments like getting rid of buckets of water or making sure your pool and hot tub are properly treated. Find out how to clean a hot tub to avoid creating a mosquito breeding ground.

If you do save things like rainwater or have standing water in flowerbeds, use mosquito bits or mosquito dunks which are designed to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Maintain your yard
Mosquitos thrive in brush, tall grass, and damp, cool spaces. Mow your yard, trim hedges, and get rid of brush often if you want to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Plant natural mosquito repellents
Ramp up your mosquito-repelling efforts by planting plants that naturally repel mosquitos. Such plants include lavender, marigolds, citronella grass, catnip, rosemary, basil, scented geraniums, bee balm, mint, floss flower, sage, allium, lemon balm, pennyroyal, among many others. There's plenty of advice on plants that repel insects in our guide.

Install outdoor fans
Not only do mosquitoes have a hard time flying near fans, but fans also keep you cool. This is important because mosquitoes are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide, and fans keep you cool and blow away carbon dioxide. If the mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’t bite you!

The birds and the bats
Birds and bats love to munch on mosquitoes, so make it your goal to attract them to your yard. Installing birdhouses, birdseed feeders, and bat houses are great ways to invite these creatures to a feast of ‘skeeters.’ Our expert advice will help you attract birds into your garden.

DIY
As well as protecting your outdoor space from flying pests using specially designed products, it also helps to set up some more DIY-based preventative measures. Our  DIY project to keep bugs at bay is ideal.

How to buy the best mosquito repellent

When looking for the best mosquito repellent, there are a few considerations you'll need to make. To help make your shopping process that much easier, we've drawn up some of the key factors and questions you might have in mind.

Inside or outside?
Dependent on where you intend to use your mosquito repellent, certain options will prove better than others. For example, for something that can manage both indoor and outdoor conditions, the waterproofed and contemporary TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper is ideal. Alternatively, for an outdoor-only option, buy something like the Thermacell Cambridge Mosquito Repellent Lantern, which can offer up to 300 hours of protection from those flying irritants. 

Personal ethics
For some people, choices such as the efficient and slick TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper or the fast-acting Cutter Backyard Bug Control are no-brainers. However, if you are uncomfortable with the killing of mosquitoes or worried about the effects on other wildlife, this kind of product is not for you. Those opting for a kinder product should look to the all-natural delight that is Murphy’s Naturals Candle. 

Bug-busting budget
When it comes to choosing a product that suits you, it's only natural to consider value for money. Luckily, few of the mosquito repellents are likely to break the bank, however, some picks are certainly savvier than others. For an uber-cheap option, the Cutter Backyard Bug Control is your go-to. That said, if you are put off by some of its toxic ingredients, you might opt for the plentiful and relatively affordable PIC Mosquito Repelling Coils 4 Pack.

What is the most effective mosquito repellent?
Based on our experience and research, we'd mark the PIC Mosquito Repelling Coils 4 Pack as the most effective option. Covering a range of up to 10 feet, it's also, rather handily, very affordable. One thing to note: some individuals may find the smoke it produces a little annoying. In which case, we'd suggest looking to something odorless and non-obtrusive like the TOMPOL Mosquito and Bug Zapper.

What smells do mosquitoes hate?
Most famously, mosquitos loathe the smell of citronella. Smartly, one of our favorite products, Murphy’s Naturals Candle, has a healthy dose of this alongside other pleasant scents like rosemary and peppermint. 

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is a Dallas-based award-winning author and freelance writer that has covered home, design, architecture, and art in publications like Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Home & Gardens, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Artsy, Neighborhoods.com, Culture Trip, among many others. She recently bought her first home, a green Sears & Roebuck house that's over 100 years old, sits on half an acre of land, and features a stunning wraparound porch, original hardwood floors, pocket doors, and a butler pantry. Alex loves to test products for Gardeningetc, Real Homes, and Homes & Gardens buying guides and reviews which has helped to expand the richness of her first-time homeowner life. The Mixed Latinx writer can usually be found working or relaxing in her outdoor spaces.