Canstar Blue’s insect repellents review has seen Bushman, ALDI Repellex, OFF!, Coles, Aerogard and RID compared on effectiveness, low skin irritation, smell, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
For many of us, our time outside can be easily ruined by creepy crawlies, with mosquitoes, flies and gnats taking advantage of unprotected skin, leaving us with itchy bumps and marks for days on end. While we arm ourselves with insect repellents for such occasions, finding one that really works and consistently keeps the bugs away from us can be a real challenge. How often have you applied insect repellent, only to continue to suffer? (Hand goes up!)
Thankfully, Aussies have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to finding their weapon of choice against pesky mosquitos, although narrowing down the field may eventually come down to personal preference, as many brands offer varieties for different climates, children and those with sensitive skin.
For a guide as to which insect repellent brand is rated highest for keeping the bugs at arm’s length, Canstar Blue has again surveyed more than 750 Australian adults who have bought and used one of the many repellents on supermarket and pharmacy shelves. Respondents rated brands on effectiveness, low skin irritation, smell, packaging design, value for money and overall customer satisfaction. So, what did we find this year?
Bushman swatted the competition after crawling to the top of our ratings with five-star reviews for overall satisfaction and most other categories.
Here are the best insect repellents in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Our latest ratings show Aussies are itching to buy Bushman to help ‘shoo away’ insects, giving it five stars for overall satisfaction, while most other brands sat on four stars. RID was the sole exception, receiving three stars for overall satisfaction.
ALDI Repellex inched ahead when it came to value for money and smell, scoring full marks in both areas. It also enjoyed five stars for low skin irritation, alongside OFF! and Bushman.
As Australian as it gets, Bushman was developed in northern Queensland, notorious for mosquitos, with its products boasting up to 15 hours of protection against all types of flying nasties, including bugs that bite.
It offers a wide variety of products, including those that have added sunscreen and an option for those with sensitive skin. One option is the pump spray (100ml), which is claimed to provide up to seven hours of protection. It’s also said to be resistant to water, sweat, and rubbing. Bushman alternatively sells aerosols ranging between 50g to 225g, with the regular ‘heavy-duty’ Bushman line containing a higher amount of DEET (i.e. an ingredient that determines the length of time insect repellents stay effective). These have similar technology with additional sun protection.
Some Bushman products include:
Most Bushman insect repellents are said to last up to seven hours, although the brand also offers a dry gel option that’s claimed to last a whopping 15 hours on the skin.
ALDI may be attracting long lines for its Special Buys, but the supermarket’s wallet-friendly range of private labels is proving to be just as popular for essentials like chocolate and bathroom cleaners. To fight off bugs, ALDI’s Repellex line includes an odourless formula for children as well as a traditional repellent formula for general use. The traditional variant comes in a 150g spray bottle, boasting up to six hours of protection with tropical strength.
While it may not have the history as some of its competitors, ALDI has been surprising the big brands in recent years, meaning the German supermarket shouldn’t be underestimated.
Producing personal insect repellents for more than 50 years, OFF! has been a mainstay in the local market, offering several different insect repellents for consumers. The range includes OFF!’s Tropical line-up, which includes a pump that’s claimed to provide up to eight hours of protection. It’s also said to be dermatologically tested, plus non-greasy and lightly fragranced. The Family Care range similarly includes a spray and aerosol, both of which are designed to last up to four hours. This line-up is stated to be suitable for children 12 months and older.
OFF! insect repellents include:
OFF!’s insect repellent collection is claimed to have a non-greasy and lightly fragranced formula.
Another supermarket giant to throw its hat into the mosquito repellent ring, Coles similarly offers a cheaper alternative for families with its own private label. For children and adults who need a product that won’t irritate the skin, Coles sells the Odourless Low Irritant Insect Repellent Aerosol which is said to provide a maximum protection of four hours. The Coles Tropical Insect Repellent is alternatively designed to protect you for up to six hours. Coles insect repellents include:
Most products cost just $4, while Coles’ roll-on bug repellent checks out for slightly more at $7.
A well-known brand within the market, Aerogard is another Australian company built for the Australian climate. With sister company Mortein taking care of the insects inside your house, Aerogard was created to take care of the insects outside, with several different products on offer.
Aerogard has three different ranges in its line-up, including ‘odourless’, ‘heavy-duty’ and ‘tropical strength’ mosquito repellents, boasting up to six hours of protection for some products. But if you’re looking for the odourless variety, this line-up is designed to protect you for a maximum of four hours. For those who don’t like sprays, Aerogard also offers a roll-on repellent. Products from the range include:
Different varieties come in different shapes and sizes, from 50ml sprays to 300g aerosols.
Another Aussie brand, RID was formed in the 1940s to help combat mosquitoes in damp climates, with the company building to become a well-known brand within the market. According to the brand, RID is also considered a medicated insect repellent due to its antiseptic concentrations, giving users extra protection against diseases and infections.
RID’s range includes the Tropical Strength line, which is said to both repel and prevent inflammation, supposedly giving you longer-lasting protection against mosquitos that might carry Ross River Virus or Dengue. Also repelling against bugs such as ticks, leeches and sandflies, RID’s Tropical Strength line-up offers roll-ons, pump sprays and aerosol sprays claimed to offer up to six hours of protection.
Other products include a kids’ option, plus a handy sunscreen combo, giving consumers protection against UV rays, as well as insects. Additional products such as mosquito coils are also available, with RID looking to cover all bases. Some items to check out:
The Low Irritant Antiseptic collection is alternatively designed to work for three hours, while RID’s Antiseptic Plus range is said to give up to four hours of protection.
If you’re worried about the chemicals you’re exposing yourself to when it comes to insect repellents, you’re not the only one, with 13% of respondents to our survey stating that they are worried about the chemical levels in the products they buy. In most cases, DEET is the active ingredient in insect repellents, although Picaridin is an alternative used by some brands.
Otherwise known as diethyltoluamide, DEET is one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellents. It was developed by the US Army during the Second World War to combat insect-borne illness during its jungle campaigns. All insect repellents will state a DEET concentration percentage on the label, with many brands typically around the 30% range. The greater the DEET concentration, the longer the effectiveness. But keep in mind the amount of DEET only impacts how long the insect repellent stays on the skin, and is not an indicator of effectiveness.
For those who suffer from skin conditions, the sensitive options available will often have lower DEET concentrations, as do repellents for children. You should also know that:
With Australia known for sunshine and beaches, there are plenty of reasons to be outside. But as much as we’d like to spend time outside, dealing with insects is always a risk, not to mention a mood killer. As a result, many consumers turn to insect repellents to ensure that the fun isn’t ruined, or that they’re not left covered in bites. An analysis of our research identified the following drivers of customer satisfaction:
With nearly one in three (29%) survey respondents reporting that they suffer ‘particularly badly’ with insects bothering and biting them, insect repellents are often essential when venturing outside. In addition, 37% of consumers noted that they always buy the same repellent, while only 15% go for the cheapest option available.
Survey respondents were also asked what type of repellent they most recently purchased, with aerosol being the most common:
As everyone will have their own personal preference when it comes to insect repellent, especially when it comes to factors such as effectiveness and smell, it’s probably worth trying a few different options to find the best fit for your lifestyle. While our ratings offer a high-level guide as to which brands are up to the job, your personal experience may be different.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: Elizaveta Galitckaia / Shutterstock.com.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used personal insect repellent in the last 12 months – in this case, 756 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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