The Best Tick Repellents to Keep You Safe From Bites

Prevent tick bites and protect your family from Lyme disease by using a tick repellent in your yard.

By Savannah Sher | Published Jun 28, 2021 8:47 AM

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The Best Tick Repellent Options


Ticks are insects found all over the United States that can be dangerous to your family and pets. That’s because ticks can carry and spread illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis. The CDC estimates 476,000 people get Lyme disease in the U.S. each year.

To protect your family, choose a good tick repellent to keep the insects out of your yard. Read on to learn some of the most important features to look for, as well as recommendations for some of the best options on the market.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Yard and Kennel Spray
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Cutter Backyard Bug Control
  3. BEST CHEMICAL GRANULES: Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer Granules
  4. BEST NATURAL SPRAY: Wondercide Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Yard Spray
  5. BEST NATURAL GRANULES: Cedarcide Granules Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch
  6. BEST CHEMICAL SPRAY: Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Lawn
  7. BEST FOR PEOPLE: Nantucket Spider Extra Strength Tick Repellent Spray
The Best Tick Repellent Options


What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tick Repellent

Learn about some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best tick repellent for your yard.

Natural vs. Chemical

There are two broad categories of tick repellents: natural and chemical.

  • Natural tick repellents contain essential oils like peppermint or cedarwood, which are known to deter ticks. Natural tick repellents are more environmentally friendly and are safe to use around pets and children. They may, however, require more frequent application in order to be effective.
  • Chemical pesticides and insecticides use synthetic ingredients like DEET or IR3535 and keep ticks away for a long time after a single application. But they may pose a risk to beneficial bugs in your yard like bees, butterflies, and ladybugs. They also may contaminate soil, which is why they’re banned in some communities.

Application and Coverage

Tick repellents come in two forms: sprays and granules.

  • Sprays are the most common type of product on the market. Some are intended for use on lawns and patios, and others can be sprayed directly on your skin or clothing for protection from ticks. They are available in premixed formulas or as a concentrate that must be mixed with water. Some of the concentrates come in bottles that attach to a garden hose via an included nozzle, so you can mix the tick repellent as you apply it to your lawn.
  • Granules come in pellet form and are coated with natural or chemical ingredients to repel or kill ticks. You can scatter them in your yard. Granules provide less coverage than sprays because they don’t coat plant leaves or blades of grass.

Safety and Proper Use

Tick repellents come with manufacturer’s instructions for proper use, so be sure to read and follow them carefully. These instructions will vary based on the application method and whether the product is natural or chemical-based. Some chemical pesticides must be applied by a professional.

When working with chemical pesticides, it’s important to use proper protective gear. Wear a respirator mask and protect your eyes with goggles. Cover your skin with gloves, long sleeves, and long pants to avoid coming into contact with the pesticides. Wash your clothing immediately after you’re done, and shower to remove any chemical residue from your body.

Tips for Using Tick Repellent and Keeping Ticks Out of Your Yard

Keep the following tips in mind when using tick repellent at home.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the product you choose.
  • Wear protective gear when working with chemical tick repellents.
  • Check your local regulations concerning pesticides before using chemical tick repellents.
  • Make your yard less hospitable to ticks by keeping your grass mowed short and pruning shrubs and decorative grasses away from walkways. Ticks love the cool shade they can find on plant leaves that are up off the ground.
  • Treat dogs and cats with seasonal tick-repelling treatments.

Our Top Picks

Just ahead are some popular tick repellents, which were chosen based on the above shopping considerations.

Best Overall

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Vet's Best Flea and Tick Yard and Kennel Spray

Repel ticks without risking harm to your pets, children, or local wildlife by using an all-natural spray like this one from Vet’s Best. The formula relies on essential oils and other natural ingredients to deter and kill ticks along with mosquitoes, fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs. There’s no added fragrance, and it’s free of DEET. It’s safe for use on trees, shrubs and flowers, too.

The concentrated formula comes with a hose attachment, making application a breeze. It covers 5,000-square feet of terrain and can be used on grass as well as patios, decks, and concrete.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Cutter Backyard Bug Control

Protect against ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, house crickets, carpenter ants, harvester ants, lady beetles, and earwigs with Cutter’s Backyard Bug Control spray. This affordable 32-ounce bottle provides 12 weeks of protection, covering up to 5,000 square feet.

Attach the bottle to your garden hose’s nozzle to dilute the concentrate with water as you apply it. Because this is a chemical spray, it’s toxic to bees, so it should be used with caution. It’s also toxic to fish and other aquatic creatures, so it can run off into natural water sources if it rains before the spray dries after application.

Best Chemical Granules

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer Granules

The 2.5-pound container of Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer provides 3 months of protection against ticks, along with other insects like ants, fleas, spiders, mole crickets, cutworms, sod webworms, and chinch bugs.

Sprinkle these granules around your home or yard’s perimeter to prevent insects from invading your property. One bottle treats a 2,000-square-foot home more than twice, so one bottle should get you through tick season. Once you apply the granules and water them, let them dry completely before allowing people and pets to walk on the treated area. Be sure to keep these granules out of reach of children.

Best Natural Spray

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Wondercide Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Yard Spray

Repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes using the power of essential oils with this product from Wondercide. It’s free from harsh pesticides as well as artificial colors and fragrances. There’s no downtime after use, meaning your kids and pets can play on the lawn immediately after it has been treated.

Simply attach the bottle to your garden hose so the concentrated formula is mixed with water when applying. For best results, spray the affected area twice in a 10-day period and reapply every 4 to 6 weeks throughout tick season. The 32-ounce container can treat approximately 5,000 square feet of lawn.

Best Natural Granules

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Cedarcide Granules Insect Repelling Cedar Mulch

If you are looking for a granulated natural tick repellent that’s free of harmful chemicals, try Cedarcide Granules, made of organic cedar mulch. The finely ground, all-natural mulch contains cedarwood oil, a natural deterrent for ticks as well as fleas, ants, mites, and mosquitoes.

These granules don’t contain any toxic chemicals and are safe to use around children and pets. They also don’t harm beneficial bugs and wildlife. An 8-pound bag covers 3,500 square feet of area in your yard and works for 2 months, so you don’t have to reapply frequently.

Best Chemical Spray

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Lawn

While chemical sprays may not be suitable for every household, they are effective in areas with serious tick problems. This product from Ortho Home Defense contains 32 ounces of insecticide and protects against 235 species of insects, including ticks, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, and spiders.

Protection lasts for 3 months, meaning you may only have to spray your yard once per season. Attach the bottle to your garden hose to mix the concentrated formula with water for an even application. One bottle treats up to 5,300 square feet of terrain. Be sure to wear protective equipment when working with a chemical tick repellent like this one.

Best for People

The Best Tick Repellent Option: Nantucket Spider Extra Strength Tick Repellent Spray

Once you’ve treated your property with tick repellent, you might also want to treat your family with this product to provide an extra layer of tick protection. Nantucket Spider uses a blend of essential oils like rosemary, cinnamon, cedarwood, peppermint, and clove to deter ticks and prevent bites. In manufacturer testing, this spray deterred 92 percent of deer ticks.

The formula is vegan, organic, and doesn’t contain DEET or alcohol, making it safe for kids and adults alike. Spray it on your clothing, skin, and hair without worrying about any adverse effects. The lockable spray trigger makes the bottle portable for camping and hiking trips.

FAQs About Tick Repellents

You might still have questions about how to use tick repellents. Here are answers to some of the most common inquiries.

Q. What are the risks of using tick repellent?

Chemical tick repellents contain harsh insecticides that should not come into contact with your skin and should be kept away from children and household pets. They can kill beneficial insects along with ticks, and their active ingredients can accumulate in the soil over time and cause environmental harm.

Q. How do I keep ticks off my dog?

Talk to your veterinarian about seasonal tick treatments for your dog. Once your pet has received these treatments, make sure to keep your dog’s fur short during tick season and consider spraying your pet with diluted lemon eucalyptus oil before going for walks in tick-infested areas.

Q. Do tick repellants come with a garden-hose attachment?

Some concentrated liquid tick repellents come with a garden-hose attachment. This lets users spray a mixture of water and the product all over the lawn without having to mix it first in a separate container.