How to apply bug spray

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Protecting yourself from the growing threat of bug-borne illness requires a variety of strategies. One crucial step khổng lồ take is using insect repellent. But even the best bug spray won’t be very effective if you’re not applying it correctly, so you need khổng lồ make sure khổng lồ use good technique. 


“A quick spray won’t provide the right cấp độ of protection, but don’t spray too heavily either,” says Chris Regan, who leads insect repellent testing at Consumer Reports. “Make sure lớn follow the instructions on the sản phẩm label, especially when protecting young children.”

There are a few other tips to keep in mind. We spoke with experts at the Centers for Disease Control và Prevention khổng lồ get their advice on how lớn safely và effectively apply bug spray.

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If you’re going to lớn be in the sun, first rub in your sunscreen, let it absorb into your skin for 15 minutes, then apply the repellent on top.

If you need to lớn apply more sunscreen later, you don’t necessarily need lớn reapply bug spray unless you notice that the insects are beginning to lớn bother you.

Note that we don’t recommend products that combine a sunscreen and a repellent—and neither does the CDC. That’s because sunscreen should be reapplied more often than bug spray, so you could kết thúc up applying more repellent than necessary.


Mosquitoes và ticks can be aggressive biters, especially Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are the type primarily responsible for spreading Zika, dengue, và chikungunya viruses. They can find and bite an exposed section of skin the kích cỡ of a dime. So you want to lớn make sure you cover every inch.

Shake the container and spray evenly onto your uncovered skin và clothes from about 4 to lớn 8 inches away, or as directed on the label. For lotions & wipes, also follow label directions; most call for a thin film over exposed skin areas. But don’t overdo it: For insect repellents, more is not better. A thin film is sufficient.

And it’s best to lớn avoid inhaling repellent, so apply it in a well-ventilated space away from open flames—and be conscious of others around you, including children và pets.


Wearing long-sleeved shirts và long pants can help you avoid mosquito bites. Spraying your clothes can also provide extra protection (just apply to an inconspicuous area of clothing first to kiểm tra for possible damage). But insect repellent labels say you should never apply the product underneath your clothes. Using deet-based repellent under clothes may lead lớn skin irritation, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.


Never spray repellent directly onto your face or your ears. Instead, spray some onto your hands và spread it on your face, neck, and outside of your ears, being careful to avoid your eyes and nostrils. Don’t forget to lớn rub it onto your head if you’re bald.

Bug sprays can aggravate open cuts và wounds, so avoid areas with broken or irritated skin.

Wash your hands after applying, especially if you’re going to be eating.

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Mosquitoes tend to lớn be attracted to lớn certain spots on the body, including the ankles, feet, và knees. Và because ticks usually hop onto you from plants on the ground, your exposed ankles are a primary target.


According to the CDC, you should never apply any kind of insect repellent to lớn children younger than 2 months. Even for older children, never spray directly onto their skin.

Spray onto your hands first, then rub onto the child’s exposed skin & face. Be sure to lớn avoid his or her hands because children tend to lớn stick their fingers into their eyes and mouth. And as always, avoid applying near the eyes, nostrils, & mouth.


Our top-rated repellents all provided several hours of protection against both ticks và mosquitoes in our tests. Still, some people tend to lớn attract more bugs than others, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so if bugs are starting to bite again, that’s your cue that it’s time for more.

Insect repellents can also wash off in water, so if you’re swimming or perspiring heavily, you should think about reapplying afterward.

After returning indoors, wash your (or your child’s) repellent-treated skin with soap and water.


Bug bites are not only annoying but can also transmit diseases. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, host Jack Rico goes inside Consumer Reports’ labs khổng lồ find out how CR tests insect repellents to make sure you are getting the most protection.


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