Chigger bites are some of the worst bug bites in the world, and not because they’re painful, because you don’t even feel it when it happens!
The intense itching that follows can last for two or three weeks and drive you crazy, clawing at yourself to get rid of them.
So if you're looking for a repellent to keep chiggers away from you, your pets, and your family, you're in the right place!
In this Pest Strategies product review guide, you'll learn:
- What are chigger repellents?
- How do chigger repellents work?
- How does one use chigger repellents?
- And our #1 pick for the best chigger repellent!
If you're short on time, click here to jump right to our top pick for best chigger repellent.
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
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Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
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Repel HG-94108 100 Insect Repellent (DEET)
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Tempo Ultra SC 240 ML Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide
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Wondercide EcoTreat - Natural Outdoor Pest Control Concentrate
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
(updated as of 03/25/2020)
This repellent comes in a lotion form and uses 20% Picaridin as the active ingredient. It’s an alternative to DEET. Some say it works better than DEET. It can be on your face, hands, and neck, even part of the groin and armpits.
It gives you 8 hours protection, repelling chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies, and sand flies. It won’t stain your clothes, backpack, fishing line, watches, sunglasses, or other outdoor equipment. It has a pleasant odor and isn’t greasy.
Top 5 Best Chigger Repellent
What Are Chigger Repellents?
Insect repellents as a class are chemicals or natural extracts which interfere with a target insect’s ability to smell, see, or hear human or animal hosts. Insects, including chiggers, are attracted by odors or body heat.
Spraying one of those chemicals or natural extracts on your clothes or skin has the effect of inhibiting their ability to detect those odors or body heat, making us effectively invisible to them. This prevents them from attacks us.
Chemicals such as DEET, Bifenthrin, and Cyfluthrin are effective against chiggers. DEET comes in a variety of different sprays intended to be applied to your skin and clothes, while the other two are pesticides to be sprayed around the yard, in grassy areas, bushes, and trees. Permethrin is also used as an insect repellent.
A number of essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, and citronella have bug repellent properties as well. They also provide a measure of itch relief when sprayed on your skin.
Do Chigger Repellents Really Work and Are They Effective?
Avoiding tall grass, where chiggers can’t jump or fly onto you, is your first and best bet. Short grass, trimmed bushes, and manicured flower beds allow too much sunlight and air to dry out the damp soil conditions chiggers prefer. At home, a well-mowed yard is the best way to prevent an infestation of them.
However, you are probably like most of our readers and live an active lifestyle. When you’re hiking through a grassy area, long pants with plenty of bug spray on them and your boots or shoes will go a long way toward keeping the little critters off of you.
An excellent mosquito repellent, chigger repellent, or any other repellent for bugs only works if it is applied correctly.
If you spray it off-target or don’t cover all the openings in your clothes, it can’t do its job. It can have the best active ingredient in the world but unless it’s where it needs to be, you might as well be putting water in a spray bottle.
How Do You Find The Best Chigger Repellent?
Our staff at Pest Strategies is composed of licensed pest control technicians who spent decades crawling under houses to kill termites, suiting up in hazmat suits to kill bed bugs and bees, and having roaches drop on them when they entered infested houses for a cleanout job.
Killing bugs is what we do and our years of experience have provided us with real-world examples of what works and what doesn’t. We put all that knowledge to work finding the best way to repel chiggers than pass it on to you.
We’ll tell you right now that putting nail polish on the bite to suffocate the chigger is a lost cause. By the time you feel the itching, the chigger is usually long gone. We don’t know where this urban legend came from but it’s no more credible than the tooth fairy.
If you're interested in exploring how to make your own DIY chigger repellent, check out the video below:
How To Use A Chigger Repellent
Chigger Repellents as Personal Sprays
Ready-to-use sprays come in pump spray bottles, already premixed. Wear knee-high socks and spray them before you put your pants on. Spray inside the bottom 3-4 inches of your pants legs. After you put your pants on, spray the entire length of each leg, stopping just before you reach the groin area.
Spray your shoes or boots inside and out. You don’t have to spray the inner soles, but the tongue and the upper part of the boots around the ankle, do need to be sprayed on the inside. Chiggers are so small they can easily fit into tight spaces. Spraying keeps them out.
Wear a long sleeve shirt and spray them from the collar up to the shoulders, then down the front where the shirt buttons. You can spray the outside of the collar then wait a minute or two for it to dry before putting it on.
Spray it on your hands then rub it on your arms, neck, and cheeks. Never try to spray your face or neck. If some of it gets in your mouth or nose, you’ll feel like you just drank kerosene. If you’ve ever siphoned gas and gotten some in your mouth, you know what we’re talking about.
Chigger Repelling Personal Lotions
Skin lotions leave stains on clothing so this one should only be used when you’re at the beach or swimming pool. This is not calamine lotion, by the way. Calamine lotion is good for relieving the itchiness of a chigger bite, but not for repelling them.
Read More: Top All-Natural Mosquito Repellents
Chigger Repellents as Yard Sprays
We’ve included one liquid concentrate on our list. The directions on the label have the force of law behind them so the mixing and usage directions are mandatory. The pest control industry has a saying, the label is the law because it is.
Follow the mixing instructions, usually in a 1-gallon pump-up sprayer. Once it is thoroughly mixed, start at the foundation of the house and spray a gradually widening band all the way around it, increasing the distance from the house each time you go around.
Continue circling the house until you’ve sprayed the entire yard. Depending on the size of the yard it might take several gallons. Only spray after the grass has been cut and on a day when it’s not supposed to rain.
Once the pesticide dries, if it’s a man-made chemical, it will be good for up to 60-90 days. If it’s an essential oil or all-natural product, it will only last until the first hard rain. Then it will be washed away and you’ll have to re-spray the yard.
Are Chigger Repellents Safe Around My Pets And Children?
Yes and no. It depends on the active ingredient. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends not using products containing DEET on children under two months old, even while admitting the EPA hasn’t issued any guidelines regarding age limitations.
Essentials oils actually do have some age limitations on them in spite of being all-natural and we’ll cover those as we come to them. The bottom line is if you don’t feel safe putting something on your newborn, don’t.
Best Chigger Repellent Reviewed
This repellent comes in a lotion form and uses 20% Picaridin as the active ingredient. It’s a fairly new alternative to DEET (since 2005) that works just as well at DEET and is very safe. You can rub it all over your skin, face, hands, and neck, as well as sensitive areas such as your groin and armpits.
It will last for up to 8 full hours before it has to be reapplied. It repels chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies, and sand flies. Unlike most lotions, it won’t stain your clothes, backpack, fishing line, watches, sunglasses, or other outdoor equipment.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is one of the few essential oils to be tested by the government and listed by the CDC as an insect repellent that is safe and effective. It is 100% natural, with no artificial additives or ingredients.
It lasts for up to six hours, delivering protection that is nearly as effective as DEET. Some customers say it’s more effective than DEET. It has a cool refreshing scent without any chemical overtones.
It’s not greasy or sticky when you spray it on or when it dries. It’s safe for your clothes and equipment, repelling bugs without leaving messy stains.
This is the original DEET insect repellent developed by the United States Army in 1946. It has been safely used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide since then, protecting them from mosquitoes, chiggers, and biting insects of all kinds.
It doesn’t dissolve easily in water so it lasts a long time – up to 10 full hours – even when you’re hot and sweaty. Very few other repellents can make that claim, or have the decades-long track record of success that DEET has.
It has a slight odor to it, and at concentrations below 30%, can be used on children as young as two months old. It won’t stain your clothes, camping gear, watch faces, glasses, or leather.
Tempo is a professional pesticide used by pest control technicians everyday. The active ingredient Cyfluthrin, is a pyrethroid, a man-made synthetic version of pyrethrins, an extract found in chrysanthemums and related flowers.
Once it’s dry, it will last for up to 90 days before it needs to be resprayed on your yard. Tempo is a concentrate, which means it needs to be diluted with water to reach the acceptable concentration for spraying on your yard. One 8-ounce bottle will make 16-20 gallons.
This is a chemical pesticide so it needs to be treated with respect when you’re spraying it. Once it’s dry though, it’s safe for children and pets to play in the yard. In the meantime, it will kill chiggers and dozens of other insects.
Wondercide is the all-natural alternative to Tempo. The active ingredient is cedarwood essential oil. It repels and kills ants, chiggers, chinch bugs, crickets, fleas, flies, gnats, Japanese beetles, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, roaches, scorpions, ticks, and more.
This 16-ounce bottle can be diluted with water to treat up to 8,000 square feet of lawn gardens, flowers, siding, vegetables, brick, and paint. Because there aren’t any harsh chemicals in it, there’s no waiting for it to dry. Your children and pets can play right away.
It has the added benefit of being safe for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. It washes away easily when it rains though, so you’ll have to respray each time.
Our Top Pick: Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
This lotion uses 20% Picaridin, the new chemical alternative to DEET. It can be applied to your face, hands, and neck, even the groin and armpits. It’s not greasy and has a pleasant odor.
It lasts 8 hours and repels chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies, and sand flies. It won’t stain your clothes, backpack, fishing line, watches, sunglasses, or other outdoor equipment.
- Non-DEET formula
- 8-hour protection
- Won’t stain clothes
Final Thoughts On Chigger Repellents
Chigger repellents need to be applied before you get into the tall grass. Once you’re in the middle of it, it’s too late. But, if you apply them correctly, ahead of time, they’ll keep the chiggers off you and your family.
Around the house, we recommend a combination of yard spray and personal repellent. If you’re going hiking or camping, use the personal repellent and make sure it is applied everywhere to give you complete coverage.
Other Chigger & Tick Guides
Curious about other Chigger and Tick related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.