Best Insect Repellent Alternatives to Bug Spray and Lotion

Two children of color hike on a desert trail with large packs on their backs. Both are wearing Jack Wolfskin Lakside pants for kids, which are a great alternative to bug spray.
Photo Courtesy: Jack Wolfskin, featuring their Lakeside pants for kids

Choosing the best alternatives to bug spray and lotion for kids can be a difficult task! Of course, there are several insect repellent lotions and sprays for kids to keep those pesky critters away. But what if the best insect repellent for kids doesn’t need to be applied to the skin? As many families are opting to experience national parks, glamping, and RVing this summer, these questions are even more relevant. Families planning to be outside for extended periods, in high-wooded areas, or high-risk malaria areas, should continue to use a traditional spray or lotion for best results. However, those playing outside, doing a bit of light hiking, or camping in low-risk malaria areas, can consider an alternative to bug spray or lotion. From patches to bracelets to clothing, we’ve compiled parent recommendations for the best alternatives to bug spray and lotion.

RELATED: 9 Best Bug Sprays for Kids,

Mosquito Repellent Patches, Stickers & Clips

A young boy in shorts and a hat shows off his Dr. Talbot's mosquito clip featuring a lion on his chest.
Photo Courtesy: Dr. Talbot’s, featuring their Mosquito Repellent Clips for Baby & Toddler

Why Our Families Love Them

Firstly, many of our community members recommended mosquito repellent patches, stickers, or clips. The patches and stickers are perfect for eating outside or playing at the park! Additionally, the clips are well-suited for infants and crawlers, making them a great alternative to insect repellent for toddlers. Their inconspicuous design also allows them to be functional, yet easily tucked away on the back of a shirt or a car seat. Plus, many offer kid-friendly designs that are sure to delight the littles in your family! Our families love patches, stickers, and clips for their ease of use, pleasant smell, and seamless packing. Additionally, they are usually made with natural ingredients, safe for all ages to apply. Whichever option you choose, though, they are sure to provide a great alternative to bug spray and lotion for a lovely afternoon outdoors! 

Options for Patches, Stickers & Clips

Six insect repellent stickers placed in two rows with animals on the sticker. The first row features a squirrel, owl, and koala, while the second row features a whale, elephant, and tiger.
BuggyBands Resealable Stickers
  • TIANSION Repellent Clip for Kids, available on Amazon starting at $16.99 (3-pack). Kids will adore their fun animal images, while parents will appreciate this alternative to bug spray for babies! Buy now. NEW LINK
  • Mosquito Guard Repellent Stickers/Patches for Kids, available at Amazon starting at $13.95 (60 pack). Buy now.

Bands & Bracelets

Three bug bands are show prominantly, one blue, one green, and one pink. A view of the packaging is staged to the left of the three bands. Brands and bracelets are one of the best alternatives to bug spray.
BUGBAND Insect Repelling Bands via Amazon

Why Our Families Love Them

Then, our families highly recommend using bands or bracelets as an alternative to bug spray and lotion. Bands and bracelets are perfect for wrists or ankles for an evening outdoors. Littles who still put everything in their mouth can even wear theirs around an ankle to prevent concerns and keep it from falling off easily, making them a great alternative to insect repellent for toddlers. Best of all, many of these bands and bracelets are waterproof. This makes them perfect for a day at the beach or on the lake! Plus, they are often odorless, natural or chemical-free, and can be used more than once (if properly stored). Stock up, and you can have fun all season long!

Options for Bands & Bracelets

  • BUGBAND REPELLENT WRISTBAND, available at Amazon starting at $18.24 (4 pack). Buy now.
  • PIC Bugables Citronella Coil Wristbands, available at Amazon starting at $12.49 (10 pack). Buy now.
  • BuggyBeds Mosquito Repellent Bands, available at Amazon starting at $17.99 (12 pack). Buy now.
  • Pic Citronella Plus Wristband, available at Amazon starting at $6.25 (3 pack). Buy now.

Anti-Mosquito Clothing

Two kids of color jump off a large log in the woods, wearing their Jack Wolfskin anti-mosquito clothing, a fantastic alternative to bug spray.
Photo Courtesy: Jack Wolfskin, featuring their Lakeside pants for kids

Why Our Families Love Them

Families can also outfit themselves with clothing specially designed to keep bugs off! Clothing, like hats, shirts, pants, and socks, can make durable, reusable, and functional insect repellent alternatives as well. Hats that offer netting can also be a great option while hiking or enjoying a campfire in the evening. Careful searching can ensure that you find clothing and headwear options for the whole family too, including tiny babies! Use caution, however: some clothing is treated with Permethrin, which is a pesticide used to kill or repel insects, including mosquitoes and ticks. Be sure you research how the clothing is treated before purchasing. This way, you can ensure you have made the best choice in alternatives to bug spray and lotion for you and your family!

Options for Kids Anti-Mosquito Clothing

  • REIMA offers an extensive anti-bite line of clothing specifically designed for kids. While they are a Finish company, they do ship internationally. Availability may vary by country.
  • Insect Shield has Permethrin-treated clothing offering built-in bug protection for everyone in the family.
  • Jack Wolfskin offers a variety of mosquito protective pants, shirts, and hats for the whole family. Families will also love Jack Wolfskin’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Wipes & Towelettes

Eight packets of Avon Bug Guard wipes are fanned out in an arch. Wipes are one of the best alternatives to bug spray.
AVON Skin So Soft Bug Guard

Why Our Families Love Them

Wipes and towelettes can also be a great alternative to bug spray and lotion! Our families love how easy they are to apply and their efficacy. Additionally, wipes are easy to pack, making them great travel companions! Throw a few in a diaper bag, day pack, or glove compartment for an easy day of travel or day hike. Wipes are perfect for little ones who don’t like being sprayed, or who can’t stand still long enough for the lotion to be applied, making these a great alternative to insect repellent for toddlers. Plus, most wipes and towelettes use plant-based ingredients.

Note, we have recommended a DEET option below. DEET has gotten a bad reputation in the past. However, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have confirmed it’s safe for children over 2 months, provided its concentration is between 10% and 30%. DEET bug repellent shouldn’t be used on infants younger than 2 months, though.

Options for Wipes & Towelettes 

  • AVON Skin So Soft Bug Guard, available at Amazon starting at $19.99 (24 towelettes). Buy now. NEW LINK
  • OFF! Botanical Towelettes Plant-Based Repellent, available at Amazon starting at $7.99 (8 towelettes). Buy now. NEW LINK
  • OFF! Deep Woods Mosquito and Insect Repellent Wipes (DEET option), available at Amazon starting at $8.99 (12 towelettes). Buy now.

Bug Bite Thing

A demonstration of Bug Bite Thing on a white arm being self-administered.
Photo Courtesy: Bug Bite Thing

Why Our Families Love Them

Sometimes, no matter what we do, bites happen! While circumstances may be inevitable, you can still control the side effects. Many in our family travel community swear by Bug Bite Thing. After getting a bite, use it in three simple steps to lessen the swelling and itching. The final suction step removes the insect saliva from the bug bite! Bug Bite Thing is perfect for bites and stings from mosquitoes, bees and wasps, and ants, as well as other biting insects. In fact, it can even work on splinters! Bug Bite Thing has no ingredients, chemical or otherwise, so it’s also ideal for all family members. Finally, this reusable and painless alternative to bug spray and lotion was developed by a mom, motivated to find a better option for her kids and yours! Note: it’s not recommended for use on the face or neck.

Bug Bite Thing is available on their website for $9.95 (1 count). Buy now.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

A family of four stands with an expansive view of the Grand Canyon behind them, the man uses a selfie stick to snap the photo.
Photo Courtesy: Lisa Jubb

No matter which insect repellent alternative for kids you ultimately choose, read and follow its provided instructions. Using these safety guidelines will ensure proper use, as well as a long-lasting effect. We hope this article on the best alternatives to bug spray and lotion helped you identify the best options for your family this summer! While all these non-DEET insect repellent alternatives can work very well, it is important to note that if you’re visiting an area with heightened mosquito concerns or risk (such as during an African safari or in tropical climates), you will want to use a product with DEET to be on the safe side! Don’t forget to also check out the 9 Best Bug Sprays for Kids! Now, get outside and have some fun this summer.

RELATED: Your Guide To Family Glamping in Style

Thank You to Our Community

A family of five poses amoung large rocks at Canyonland National Park.
Photo Courtesy: Steph Yu

A special thank you to the Families Who Love to Travel community who submitted their favorite alternatives to bug spray and lotion to share with other families! From alternative to bug spray for babies to insect repellent clothing for kids, our list covers it all! Families Who Love To Travel is a group of amazing families who love adventure and exploring through travel. Join the Facebook community, follow us on Instagram, and find us on Pinterest to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer!

RELATED: 10 Best National Parks in the United States for Families

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.