What do I need to know about repellents to make sure mosquitoes don't bite me?

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of these active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Find the right insect repellent for you by using the EPA’s search tool.

Tips for babies and children

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

Tips for all ages

  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Notes about natural insect repellents (repellents not registered with EPA)
  • We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.
  • To protect yourself against diseases spread by mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness.

Visit the EPA website to learn more.

Prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas

  • Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.
  • Choose a WHOPES-approved bed net: compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch, and long enough to tuck under the mattress.
  • Permethrin-treated bed nets provide more protection than untreated nets.
  • Do not wash bed nets or expose them to sunlight. This will break down the insecticide more quickly

For more information, visit the CDC's webpages on bed nets and traveling overseas.