Illustration for the article titled These Are the Only Two Ways to Actually Keep Mosquitos OutPhoto: Hanesh Mehta / EyeEm (Getty Images)

People hate mosquitoes, and that’s why companies make a lot of anti-mosquito items: candles, bracelets, chemical and herbal sprays – even electronic devices. But if you want to keep mosquitos off your bare skin this summer, all you really need are two things: bug spray and a fan.

The many alternatives either don’t work or are not worth your time. Citronella candles aren’t much more effective than regular candles, which, as you can imagine, don’t do much for repelling mosquitoes. These glowing insect zappers are not helpful because mosquitoes do not care about light. Bracelets only keep mosquitos away from your wrists. So unless you weave them into a full body jumpsuit, they won’t be of much help. You have the idea. We examine these disappointing truths in more detail here.

So what works Two things, one chemical and one not.

The only bug spray that really works on mosquitoes

Bug spray first. I know you are shocked DEET really works and it does Picaridin and Lemon Eucalyptus Oil. If a mosquito repellent spray (especially a “natural” one) doesn’t have any of these ingredients, it’s probably not good. The easiest way to know which products are legitimate without memorizing a list? Look for an EPA registration number on the back of the label.

Keep mosquitos away without using chemicals

Second, a fan. If you’re hanging out on the porch and don’t want to spray anything on yourself – or if you’ve used the spray but they’re still flying around you and getting on your nerves – just turn on a box fan. You can get one at a hardware store for about $ 20, which is less than what you would spend, what, four mostly useless citronella candles? Mosquitoes are weak fliers, which is why they will surround you when the air is stagnant and soupy. Put up a fan – or use a natural breeze – and you’ll keep them at bay.

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Aside from these effective strategies, there are a few more that I didn’t mention because they’re dead easy: wear long sleeves and pants when you can handle them, and stay indoors when you don’t have to. I know this is not fun. So if you want to enjoy your beer on the porch in shorts and a tank top, get some bug spray and plug in a fan.

This article was originally published in July 2020 and was updated on June 24th, 2021 to bring the content in line with the current Lifehacker style.