You Should Never Waste Your Money on These 4 Worthless Mosquito Products

Don’t let their size fool you — mosquitoes are some of the most dangerous animals in the world. All it takes is one bite and your life could be totally destroyed because of a deadly disease. What we’re saying is, it pays to protect yourself. Yet not all mosquito repellents work as well as they say. Don’t waste your money on these worthless mosquito products that don’t work.

We’ll reveal four worthless mosquito products, then show you five that actually work, including one product that’s easily confused with another (page 7) and the best way to keep mosquitoes at bay (page 8).

1. Wristbands

Mosquito repellent bracelet

Mosquito repellent bracelet | Amazon

  • These won’t protect your whole body.

As you can guess, you wear these wristbands or ankle bracelets on your extremities. But what about the rest of your body? Your wrists and ankles will be bite-free, but the rest of you is a mosquito buffet unless you wear these on every part of your body. We’re calling it like we see it and saying these are completely worthless mosquito products that are a waste of your money. Experts agree with us, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Next: We hear these don’t work and never have.

2. Sonic devices

Sonic mosquito repellent

HDE Ultrasonic Mosquito & Bug Repellent Keychain | Amazon

  • These don’t work, and you probably won’t know if they’re functioning

You can count any sonic device as one of the most worthless mosquito products. Whether it’s a small keychain with a speaker or a smartphone app, sonic devices are a complete waste of your money. Plus, you probably wouldn’t know if any sonic repellent is working.

The idea behind these products is to imitate the wingbeat frequencies of male mosquitoes or dragonflies, which theoretically keeps biting female mosquitoes away. However, those frequencies are ultrasonic, which means they’re almost impossible to hear. So unless you’re a musician with a finely tuned ear, you won’t know if these devices emitted the needed frequency anyway.

Next: Shopping in the cosmetics aisle won’t help you.

3. Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil

Avon skin so soft

Avon Skin So Soft Bath oil | Amazon

  • Not nearly as effective as actual insect repellents.

Avon makes Skin-So-Soft insect repellents, but according to the New England Journal of Medicine, some people swear that the bath oil keeps mosquitoes away. Wrong. You’ll be protected for about 10 minutes, but then you’re fair game. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil barely works, so we say it’s a complete waste of your money.

Next: The old tried and true method is actually one of the worthless mosquito products.

4. Citronella candles

 Cutter Citronella Candle

Cutter Citronella Candle | Amazon

  • Any candle does the job.

The scent of a citronella candle isn’t what attracts mosquitoes away from you. It’s the heat and carbon dioxide, which are two markers the little buggers use to track you down. The thing is, every candle emits heat and carbon dioxide, and the mild scent from a citronella candle isn’t really masking your scent if it’s 10 or 15 feet away. A thorough study by the Journal of Insect Science finds a citronella candle isn’t all that effective, which is why it’s one of the most worthless mosquito products you can buy.

Next: When you need to go outside during mosquito season…

Mosquito products that actually work

Unless you want to completely avoid mosquito season by sitting inside all summer, you’re going to need some protection. We’ve discussed the worthless mosquito products that don’t stop bites, so now we’ll show you what works against the pesky pests.

1. Carbon dioxide traps

  • If you find the right one, they work wonders.

This the top-of-the-line home defense against mosquitoes. Carbon dioxide traps use propane tanks to create heat, humidity, and CO2 to attract mosquitoes and trap them. They aren’t cheap (most cost more than $300), but they consistently get rid of mosquitoes around your yard.

Next: The new kid on the block.

2. Picaridin

Picardin

Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin | Amazon

  • A recent arrival from Europe.

Picaridin is the newest repellent you can buy, and it might be the best. It came to the United States in 2005, and it’s one of just a few mosquito products the CDC says you can safely use on skin and clothes. Burt’s Bees, Cutter, and OFF! make picaridin repellents. The one drawback is it’s so new to the U.S. that any potential long-term effects aren’t known.

Next: Similar names but different results with these repellents.

3. Oil of lemon eucalyptus

Oil of lemon eucalyptus spray

Look Out Bugs Natural Bug Repellent | Amazon

  • Don’t get it confused with lemon eucalyptus oil.

They sound the same, but oil of lemon eucalyptus and lemon eucalyptus oil are very different.

  • Lemon eucalyptus oil is basically what’s left over when you distill leaves and twigs of a lemon eucalyptus tree. It smells nice, but it has only a very small amount of the insect-repelling compound para-methane-diol (PMD), sometimes as little as 2%
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus is essentially lemon eucalyptus oil further refined to boost the PMD content as high as 64%, according to Hebe Botanicals. It’s the only botanical the CDC recommends, but it’s not safe for children under three years old.

Next: The tried-and-true solution

4. DEET

Sawyer Products Premium Maxi-DEET Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Sawyer Products Premium Maxi-DEET Insect Repellent Pump Spray | Amazon

  • It’s the most effective mosquitoes repellent, but you have to weigh the risks.

The New England Journal of Medicine finds that DEET-based mosquito repellents give you the best protection for the longest time, which is why you see it in so many products. However, some people are sensitive to DEET and one study finds that long-term exposure kills brain cells in rats. Yet dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Zika can kill you, too, and the CDC recommends DEET, so it’s up to you to weigh the risks.

Next: How you can stay protected while avoiding chemicals.

5. Natural defenses from the garden

Peppermint plant | iStock/Getty Images

  • Everyday plants keep bugs away to a certain extent.

If you’re not into spraying chemicals all over your body to keep mosquitoes away, your garden might be able to help you. Basil, lavender, lemon balm, and peppermint are some of the natural bug repellents that keep mosquitoes away, and they might work for you. But keep in mind that only DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus make the CDC’s short list of truly effective repellents.

Next: Cue a Jurassic Park quote.

Why the worthless mosquito products don’t work

Mosquito Bite

Mosquito Bite | nechaev-kon/iStock/Getty Images

  • You have to hope for the best because life finds a way.

Jeff Goldblum’s character in the movie Jurassic Park predicts the dinosaurs will start breeding because “Life finds a way.” Mosquitoes need your blood to reproduce, and so they find a way around your defenses.

Studies by the American College of Physicians published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sonic devices are worthless. Citronella candles barely work, wristbands protect only a sliver of your body, and anything not designed to keep mosquitoes away won’t work.

Even using effective repellents won’t prevent bites. WebMD writes that mosquitoes bite just a fraction of an inch away from any repellent. Your best bet is to wear pants and long sleeves, apply some CDC-approved repellent, and hope for the best.