The 5 Best Sand Flea Repellents For Bite-Free Living

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Whether you call them sand flies, no-see-ums, or beach fleas, it’s important to protect yourself from itchy bites and even infections. The best sand flea repellents offer protection in the form of high-powered ingredients like DEET and IR3535, or through the help of natural compounds like essential plant oils. Below, I’ve rounded up highly rated bug repellents, ranging from organic picks to the strongest stuff on the market.

What To Consider When Shopping For The Best Sand Flea Repellents

In general, you’ll have the option of sprays and lotions, but your biggest decision will be which active ingredients you prefer. Here’s what to know about each:

  • DEET: If you’re looking for the most powerful bug repellent available, go with a DEET-based lotion or spray. While it isn’t natural, DEET is considered one of the most effective bug repellents for sand flies. If you’re concerned about using something this potent, rest assured that DEET has been studied for decades, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded it poses no health risk, as long as it’s used as directed.
  • IR3535: This is an active ingredient that can also be effective against biting flies, (like sand fleas) plus mosquitoes, deer ticks, and body lice. IR3535 is deemed safe by both the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the EPA. However, it’s generally considered less effective than DEET, and like with all synthetic bug repellents, it’s also important not to over-apply IR3535 — which can be tricky, since it’s often combined with sunscreens that need to be reapplied every two hours.
  • Plant Oils: For a more natural way to repel sand fleas, bug sprays infused with plant oils might be your best bet. Citronella is a popular sand flea repellent, and lemongrass naturally repels sand fleas as well. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is commonly used against sand fleas and other biting bugs also. While the EPA hasn’t evaluated essential oils for effectiveness against bugs, it has evaluated them for safety, concluding that essential oils pose minimal risk to human health.
  • Marmite: Admittedly, this may sound a bit wacky, but New Zealanders, who are no strangers to sand fleas, say it just might help you avoid sand flea bites. Evidently Marmite is high in vitamin B, which helps to keep sand fleas at bay. If you can stand the taste, marmite could be a way to avoid fleas without having to spray anything on your skin.

With all that in mind, you'll find all the best sand flea repellents here, whether you are looking for the most powerful formula or the most natural.

Shop The Best Sand Flea Repellents

In a hurry? These are the best sand flea repellents:

  1. A Potent Repellent Made With DEET: Ultrathon Insect Repellent
  2. A Natural Spray That Reviewers Love: Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
  3. A Sand Flea Repellent With SPF: Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus
  4. A Sand Flea Repellent Made With Organic Essential Oils: Badger Shake & Spray
  5. An Outside-The-Box Edible Sand Flea Repellent: Marmite


A Potent DEET Repellent

Ultrathon insect repellent lotion works to ward off sand fleas for up to 12 hours with potent 34% DEET. Note that this higher concentration of DEET isn't advisable for children, so if you’re looking for a lower concentration, opt for the 25% DEET spray formula that provides protection for up to eight hours. The best part? A majority of reviewers agree that the smell of Ultrathon is less strong than most formulas, making for more pleasant wear.

A helpful review: “This really works. I've tried all kinds of repellent and nothing seems to work perfectly, except this. I use this when hiking in the woods. I've taken this to other countries for the mosquitos and sand flies, no bites.”


A Natural Spray That Reviewers Love

With a cool scent, the Repel plant-based lemon eucalyptus insect repellent is a DEET-free option, relying instead on oil of lemon eucalyptus as an active ingredient to repel sand fleas. This popular pick promises to repel bugs for up to six hours before you’ll need to reapply, but note that the reviewers report the smell can be a bit strong.

A helpful review: “This worked very well when our family was the the beach. We used this product to repel the little sand flies and mosquitoes that were biting us. The smell of lemon is very strong, so if your not a big lemon fan then this is not for you. I found the smell to be ok. I like that it is natural and deet free for our young kids.”


A Sand Flea Repellent With SPF

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus combines SPF-28 sun protection, moisturizing vitamin E, and IR3535 to repel sand fleas and other bugs — and reviewers reported the smell is pretty subtle. The application instructions suggest reapplying this pick every 80 minutes, but keep in mind that reapplying IR3535 that often may not be ideal if you're going to be out all day.

A helpful review: “Living on the Georgia coast is a dual edged sword. On the one hand, it is beautiful and largely unsoiled. On the other hand, it is unspoiled because of the evil sand gnats, who come out to torture anyone foolhardy to try to enjoy the area when the weather is nice. This stuff works against them and works well. I put it on before gardening, could see the evil bugs flying around, but no bites. They still will find unsprayed places and hair though. This is pricy protection but works far better than the DEET based sprays. Doesn't smell as bad either.”


A Sand Flea Repellent Made With Organic Essential Oils

Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray contains geranium, lemongrass, and citronella oils — all of which naturally repel sand fleas. This pick also includes peppermint, cedar, rosemary, and wintergreen essential oils; plus water, castor oil, and soybean oil. It's free from synthetic chemicals as well, like DEET and petroleum. It's also certified organic, 100% natural, and lab-tested to repel mosquitoes. Plus, this all-natural option is made in the United States, it's Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, and Badger is a certified B corporation. This pick also “smells great and feels really good on,” according to one Amazon reviewer.

A helpful review: “We spent the week at the beach and I was being bitten alive by “no-see-ums”. Then I remembered I had brought the spray along. I applied it all over my body. The smell was very strong to me but not bothersome. It did the trick because I stopped being bitten that day and didn’t get any more bites as long as I remembered to apply this!”


An Outside-The-Box Edible Sand Flea Repellent

Marmite is packed with B vitamins, like vitamin B12, that may help keep sand fleas away when ingested. This pungent treat also contains yeast extract, salt, vegetable juice concentrate, and other natural flavors; and it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Try eating it on your toast every morning to keep sand fleas at bay — but be warned: Marmite is reportedly quite the acquired taste. If the taste or smell of this option is too much for you, maybe mix it with a heaping spoonful of your favorite jam.

A helpful review: “Still love this stuff!!! It’s not for everyone but you might be surprised and like it if you try.Take the marmite taste test challenge……. Warm toast, butter, marmite (spread thin) and enjoy!!!!!”

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