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June 10, 2020  |  Tips & Guides  |  Insect Repellents

Consumer Reports: Do ‘Natural’ Insect Repellents Work?

Consumer Reports: Do ‘Natural’ Insect Repellents Work?

Not all products are created equal. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s a simple question, one that CR readers frequently ask us: Do natural insect repellents work?

The answer, however, is a bit complicated. Two of the three active ingredients that have regularly earned recommended status in our insect repellent ratings—picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, or OLE—are derived from plants or synthesized to mimic chemicals in plants. But several other plant-based chemicals, including lemongrass and soybean oil, typically end up at the very bottom of our ratings.

The Natural Products Association, a trade group, has defended those low-scoring insect repellents by pointing out that there’s variation in the effectiveness of all repellents, natural and synthetic.

But the discrepancy between what works and what doesn’t is less random than that statement suggests. All of the top-rated repellents in CR’s ratings are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, while none of our bottom-rated ones are. An EPA registration means that the product has been evaluated by federal regulators to ensure safety and effectiveness. The agency requires this verification for some chemicals, such as deet, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus, but not for others.

Here’s a quick breakdown of which compounds are EPA-registered, which aren’t, and what our testing has found.

See the full article on Consumer Report’s website here:

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