What Repels Ticks? Best 5 Tick Repellents

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I earn a commission at no extra cost for you.

There are various methods and means of repelling parasites and preventing tick bites. Depending on the type of active ingredient, tick repellents are divided into two types. What repels ticks does not always kill them, it just keeps them away.

One group is the repellents, the other the contact poisons. True repellents have an irritating smell to insects. This makes it difficult for them to find their victims or it smells so bad to them that ticks simply fall off when they come in contact with repellent treated surfaces (skin or clothing).

Contact poisons work differently. If an insect comes into contact with it, then it works quickly and directly on the cell metabolism and kills the crawly animal.

Why Use Tick Repellent at all?

In areas where the infestation of these spider-like parasites is high, you should use is the best and most effective tick repellents. That is because ticks can have a whole cocktail of pathogens in their intestines that can be transmitted by a single bite and make you really sick!

One out of ten ticks carries Borrelia bacteria which can possibly transmit Lyme disease if they bite you. The risk of borreliosis after a tick bite is quite high. The CDC estimates there are about to be 300,000 cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year.

About one out of 100 ticks contain one or more other pathogens that can cause dangerous diseases like ehrlichiosis, rickettsia, babesia, etc. In all, there are at least  16 known diseases that can be transmitted by ticks.

Preventing tick bites is way better than long-term treatment, and what repels ticks will likely reduce the risk of tick-borne disease!

what repels ticks

So What Repels Ticks?

Tick repellents reduce the risk of a tick bite and thus the risk of contracting a tick-transmitted disease. There are quite a few bug repellents for you to choose from. However, one has to admit that what repels ticks best are those that contain chemically synthetic ingredients.

Personal Repellents –  (topical repellent) to be applied directly onto the skin or clothing

Surface Sprays – to be sprayed onto surfaces or clothing to repel or kill ticks on contact

Pet Repellents – only recommended for use on pets and other domestic animals

Repel Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Repel Sportsmen Max Insect Repellent is a highly effective insect repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET.

DEET is widely considered as one of the most reliable and effective insect repellents. Its strong insect-repelling effect works against all sorts of biting insects. These include, in particular, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.

The active ingredient DEET was developed by the US Army in the 50s, it is not only one of the most effective but also one of the most studied insect repellents. It is classified as safe to use by the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. However, in rare cases, DEET can cause skin irritation or allergies in some users.

When using any insect repellent whether it contains DEET or any other active ingredient, you need to consider the benefits it against the risks. Contracting a dangerous disease through a mosquito or tick bite is usually far worse and more dangerous than the rare side effects through the repellent.

Key features: Repels and deters biting insects.

Pros: Highly effective against all kinds of biting and stinging bugs.

Last update on 2022-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Picaridin Insect Repellent from Sawyer

Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin as an active ingredient has been a bestseller for many years. Available as a topical spray or a topical lotion it provides effective and long-lasting protection against mosquitos, sandflies, ticks, and other biting insects.

Picaridin is usually well tolerated. In rare cases, hypersensitivity to the active ingredient could cause itching and redness of the skin right after application. When using, be careful not to get the product into open wounds or near mucous membranes. Contact with the eyes should also be avoided. Available as lotion and spray. Use only as directed, read the label.

Key features: long-lasting protection against all biting and stinging bugs

Pros: won’t stain fabrics, suitable for the whole family

Last update on 2022-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent

An alternative to strong synthetic chemical repellents: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent,  contains only naturally occurring compounds extracted from plants.

Repel insect repellent is a mixture of a base- oil and the essential oil of the Lemon-Eycalutus Tree (Corymbia citriodora).  It has a cool and refreshing scent that repels mosquitoes and ticks.

Use as directed, to apply onto clothing and exposed skin. Do not spray directly on the face, instead, spray on the palm of a hand carefully rub to the face and neck.

Key features: natural ingredients, an essential oil extract from the lemon-eucalyptus tree.

Pros: repels ticks, mosquitoes, cool refreshing scent,  natural.

Last update on 2022-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

YAYA Organics Tick Repellent

Products from YAYA Organics are natural and organic without any toxic chemicals. Their products are safe for both, humans and the environment.

YAYA Organics Tick Protection is a natural repellent made from a combination of organic essential oils.

This plant-based repellent can be safely used by all family members and can even be used on dogs. The YAYA tick repellent is an alternative to synthetic agents for anyone who likes outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, golfing, hunting, etc. without being bothered by annoying mosquitos and ticks.

Key features: natural ingredients, essential oil.

Pros: suitable for all, safe and used for many purposes.

Last update on 2022-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sawyer Premium Clothing Insect Repellent Spray

This bestselling insect repellent is specially designed to treat clothing, tents, or any other outdoor gear. It provides effective protection for anyone who spends time outdoors hunting, fishing or backpacking, or just walking the dog. Permethrin is actually not a repellent but acts as a contact poison to insects and mites.

Permethrin clothing spray will keep you safe from harmful parasites by causing a “hot feet effect” on the bug, which makes them fall off. If they remain in contact with treated surfaces then the permethrin quickly becomes toxic to the ectoparasite and it dies. When sprayed on clothing the effect of the spray will last up to 6 weeks, keeping ticks, fleas, bugs, and any other insect away.

Permethrin spray has anti-staining properties and is odorless.

Key features: innovative design, lasts up to 6 weeks, and odorless.

Pros: provides safe and reliable protection against all sorts of biting pests.

Last update on 2022-01-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Use Repellent

The above are some of the most popular and effective tick repellents. They are used by thousands of satisfied customers and they are safe if you use them exactly according to the instructions.

However, if you use a new product for the first time, apply only a small amount and observe your skin for any reactions. Some people may react hypersensitively to certain products!

  • Read the product description and properties carefully
  • Follow the instructions and use only as directed
  • Use only as much as recommended. More doesn’t bring extra protection.
  • Apply carefully and evenly to exposed skin. Do not apply to areas that are covered by clothing.
  • Be careful in the face. Don’t spray it into your face, it is better to spray it on your hands and spread it carefully on your face.
  • Do not apply near the eyes or around the mouth.
  • Must not get into open wounds or on irritated skin.
  • Avoid using near food and avoid inhaling the spray mist.

So choose the best tick repellent and enjoy a safe time outdoors. Remember what repels ticks also repels mosquitos and other bloodsucking pests.

Optimizing Tick Protection

The optimal protection against ticks and insect bites is the combination of highly effective repellent and protective, possibly treated clothing.

Wear light-colored long pants and socks that fall over the ankles. Better, pull the socks over the pant legs if possible.

That way you are already well protected from the ticks and their bites. However, if you go to areas with extremely high tick populations, treated clothing is definitely recommended.

Mosquito and tick repellent clothing is usually treated with permethrin. This stuff keeps biting nuisances effectively at bay.

You can either purchase clothing that has already been treated or you can quickly and easily treat your clothing (and a tent or sleeping bag) yourself with products like Sawyers spray, see above.

Since ticks have the first contact with the victim via the lower legs and feet, treated pants and socks are definitely recommended.

Where do Ticks Bite?

Ticks are very small and difficult to find at first. When the little parasite bites, it releases secretions in the wound which have anti-blood-clotting as well as anesthetic qualities. This is why the tick bite itself is not painful and therefore often goes unnoticed for quite a while.

The little pests can bite anywhere, but there are parts of the body that they prefer and that you should take a closer look at. Ticks prefer parts of the body where the skin is thin and that are warm.

In humans, such places are particularly in the back of the knees, areas under the arms, the groin area between the legs, as well as in the neck, along the hairline, or behind the ears.

But they can also attach themselves to unexpected places on the abdomen, chest or between the toes. So you really have to look carefully everywhere.

Where do Ticks Bite

What If You Still Get Bitten

If you still get bitten by a tick it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. After getting the parasite out, observe the bite site and monitor your body for signs and symptoms. Mark the area with a pen, or take a photo of the bite site, this can help to monitor it for changes.

If, a ring-shaped reddening of the skin appears, around the wound or anywhere on your body, a doctor should be consulted. If you develop flu-like symptoms within a couple of days after a tick bite, such as headache, body aches, fever, fatigue, or generally start to feel sick,  go and see a doctor for clarification.

So, what repels ticks best?

Any time spent outdoors in meadows, forests, and fields or even in your yard around your house puts you at risk of a tick “attack”. More so during the warm time of the year. So even on warm days, instead of shorts and Flip-flops, you may want to wear long pants and sturdy shoes, to make it more difficult for ticks to attach. Wear bright clothes as on those crawling ticks can be easier seen than on darker clothing.

No single measure provides 100 percent protection. But using effective tick repellents in combination with other precautions can reduce the risk of a tick bite.

Use insect and tick repellents with care. Always read instructions and use only as recommended.

More Info and Sources:

EPA on Using Insect Repellents Safely: