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5 Mosquito Repellents: Does it Work?

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5 Mosquito Repellents: Does it Work?
By: Lauren Keith

This week's Does it Work test features five of the newest moquito repellents, including one at-home remedy.  I asked the Ziegler family of Kelso, Missouri to help.

"Smells good! We'll see if it keeps the bugs away!" says Kim, mom of three active girls.

The Zieglers of Kelso have each been trying five different mosquito-repelling products over the last few weeks. They've also worn each product at different times of the day and night to help us with our unofficial test. Hold on everybody---I'm going to hand out the grades right now!

First, we start with the newest bug spray on the market called Repel. Ten-year-old Anne used this product the most. She thinks it even smells better than most bug sprays.

"With Repel, all you gotta do is spray it on and it works!" she says.

Several weeks later...no bites, each time Anne wore Repel.

"I like Repel the best," says Anne.  

Repel easily gets an 'A' but how does it stack up to the Ziegler family favorite?

"That's our favorite product every summer---no complaints!" says Kim.

Kim's talking about Avon Skin So Soft with Picaridin.  It's Deet free, which Kim really likes for her youngest daughter, Ali.  Kim is also a registered nurse.

As predicted, the family says no bites with Avon Skin So Soft with Picardin.  The Zieglers still grade their stand-by with an A+.

"All right, 'Ad, let's put this on you'," says Kim wiping on the next product.

Eight-year-old Addie wore Cutter Wipes several times for us.  Get this---even before I had her use the wipes for several days, we already have a problem.

"I only wiped one arm and there's nothing left in it.  I have to grab another!" says Kim.

There's not much left after wiping one *leg* either..

"I gotta get a different one!" says Kim again.

Compared to the other sprays, Cutter isn't necessarily cost-effective but it did keep the mosquitoes from biting.  However, it's worth noting, just as I was about to load up and leave the products with the Zielgers to test, we had a bit of an emergency.

"Auuughhg!  My arm!" shouts a crying Addie.

Turns out Cutter may keep the mosquitoes away, but not the sweat bees!  Poor Addie.  Either way, Kim and I aren't impressed with how many times we had to grab a Cutter wipe just to make sure each girl was protected.. Cutter wipes up a "C".

"Wanna put this on your belly? You got a cute belly!" Kim says to her youngest daughter.

Little Ali tries the newest of our products---a chemical-free, all natural patch! We hope it works, but this bug lurking on the outside of the package isn't giving us much hope!

However, I'm happy to tell you, little Ali wore the "Don't Bite Me" patch several times.  It lasted the three days it promised, even holding up in the pool and in the tub, also as promised. Several days later, we see some little legs with no bites!

"Depends on your preference, Deet or no Deet," says Kim.

True--the patch appears to safe for kids *to use at least*, but it can't guarantee protection from the West Nile virus.  So, we'll "stick" with a B for the $5 Don't Bite Me patch.

Finally, an old-fashioned, home remedy to try.

"Wipe it all over your legs," instructs Kim.

It's not another repelling wipe.  Instead, several viewers bragged to me about fabric softener sheets keeping the bugs at bay!  You heard me right....we start with regular Bounce dryer sheets, but it's not going so well.

"It kind of flakes off.  If you're going to a ballgame, this is not attractive.  It looks like dandruff on my arms!" laughs Kim.

Right now, the Zieglers don't like the Bounce sheets at all.  The at-home remedy claims an ingredient in the sheets repels insects, but nothing is mentioned about the soapy, grimy feeling left behind on your skin.

"I felt grimy and nasty," says Kim.

But much to our surprise....Kim didn't give up and she bought a generic brand of dryer sheets for the girls.  She had a lot of success!

"They said they didn't get bit!" says Kim.

Still, this mother wants some added West Nile protection for the older girls, which dryer sheets do not offer, but she might use them in a pinch.

"If I ran out of Avon or Repel or a patch, I'd use the sheets," she says. 

So, see for yourself, and we'll go with a 'B' for this at-home method of using dryer sheets to repel mosquitoes.

Of course, no matter your method, it's always important to read all the warnings with each bug repellent.  These are the most cost-effective and newest options seen on this Does it Work test.

By the way, Good Housekeeping magazine recently did a test with 20 different mosquito products and an entomologist.  Their tests also found the products containing Picaridin kept more mosquitoes away than Deet.  Picaridin also is reportedly less concentrated than Deet which is safer to use on most children.

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