Tips for Your Safer Bug Repellent Search

Finding a safer bug repellent can be a real buzzkill. Conventional bug repellents often contain a combination of active ingredients that are listed on the label, and inert ingredients that are typically not labeled. In many cases chemicals linked to human and environmental harm are found included in these products. Thankfully, there are safer approaches to keep those bugs away.

To help you navigate the chemical confusion, we’re identifying a few of the top ingredient offenders and exploring alternative options. As always, the best way to shop products that have been vetted for human and environmental health is to look for the MADE SAFE® Certified seal—scroll to the bottom for MADE SAFE certified bug solutions.


Ingredients to Avoid

Better Ingredients

  • Clove Oil – A natural mosquito repellent, especially effective when mixed with other oils.
  • Lemongrass – Another great natural oil alternative to repel bugs. Can also be listed on labels as Cymbopogon citratus or schoenanthus oil.
  • Thyme – Another highly effective, naturally-occurring bug repellent.

Other Tips for Keeping Bugs at Bay

  • Avoid yard bug repellent foggers and coils.
  • Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are worst.
  • Utilize mosquito netting for strollers and camping.
  • Prevent mosquitoes by keeping your yard free of standing water.
  • Cover up exposed skin with long sleeves, long pants, and tall socks.

Additional Resources

  • Have more ingredient questions? Search our MADE SAFE® Banned and Restricted ListSM of over 6,500 substances banned from use in MADE SAFE certified products. This list is an excellent resource for shoppers, but do keep in mind that the Banned & Restricted List is only the first step towards MADE SAFE certification. Our certification process involves multiple steps in which additional toxic substances – not included on the Banned List – may be ruled out.
  • To get the full scoop on how to find a better bug repellent and use it well, see our fact sheet, What’s Inside Bug Repellent. Want to dive in even deeper? Read our full report, Bug Repellent: What’s In It?

A Note About Essential Oils

Remember that just because something is natural does not mean that it is safe or non-irritating. When using essential oils, look for pre-made products to ensure they have been diluted properly, or if making DIY repellents, always be sure to dilute properly using a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil. Some botanicals can be irritating, so try a small patch test before use, and avoid any known botanical allergens. As with any new product, pay attention to your body and discontinue use if it is causing irritation.

MADE SAFE® Certified Bug Repellent & Related Products




Buhbli Organics



Clary Collection

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