Canstar Blue’s insect repellents review has seen OFF!, RID, Bushman, ALDI Repellex, Aerogard and Coles compared and rated on their 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 1,200 Australian adults who have recently 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?
Both OFF! and RID swatted the competition this year after crawling to the top of our ratings board and earning five stars for overall satisfaction and across most criteria.
Here are the best insect repellents in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2020 review:
OFF! and RID both inched their way to the number one spot in this year’s insect repellents review, ending Bushman’s two-year winning streak. Both brands dominated our ratings to receive five stars for overall satisfaction and the majority of categories.
Notably, Bushman got five stars for effectiveness and packaging design, while ALDI Repellex which scored highly for value for money, and similarly Aerogard when it came to packaging. Although each of these three brands ultimately landed on four stars for overall satisfaction, finishing ahead of Coles which ended on three stars.
Producing personal insect repellents for more than 50 years, OFF! has been a mainstay in the local market, offering a number of different insect repellents for consumers. The range includes the OFF! Skintastic sprays and aerosols from the Family Care line, both of which are claimed to last for up to four hours and designed to be suitable for children aged 12 months and older. The Tropical Strength collection alternatively features aerosols said to survive up to six hours, while the pump dispenser option is advertised to last for a maximum of eight hours. Products include:
OFF!’s insect repellent line-up is stated to have a non-greasy formula that’s lightly scented.
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. RID is also known as a medicated insect repellent due to its antiseptic concentrations, giving users extra protection against diseases and infections.
RID’s range includes Tropical Strength products for the folks up north, or those going into deep forests, as well as a low irritant range for those with sensitive skin. Other products include a kids’ option, plus a handy sunscreen combo, giving consumers protection against UV rays, as well as the insects. Additional products such as mosquito coils are also available, with RID looking to cover all bases.
RID’s range is boasted to provide up to six hours of protection, depending on the product.
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. Offering a wide variety of products, including those that have added sunscreen and an option for those with sensitive skin, Bushman appears to understand the Aussie audience, a sentiment reflected in the survey results.
Its range features a pump spray (100ml) with seven-hour protection, said to be resistant against water, sweat, and rubbing. Another option is its aerosols coming in 50g, 150g and 350g varieties. These have similar technology with additional sun protection. Products include:
Most Bushman insect repellents are said to last up to seven hours, although it does offer a dry gel option that’s claimed to last a whopping 15 hours on the skin.
When you think of mosquito repellent, you probably don’t think of ALDI, but the discount supermarket has been a popular choice in our past insect repellents ratings. In true ALDI form, the Repellex range includes only two products – one aimed towards children, with an odourless formula, as well as a more 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.
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 a number of different products on offer.
Aerogard has three different ranges in its line-up, including ‘odourless’, ‘heavy duty’ and ‘tropical strength’ repellents, boasting up to six hours of protection to help keep you bug-free regardless of where you go. 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 150ml sprays to 300g aerosols.
Another supermarket giant to throw its hat into the mosquito repellent ring, Coles similarly offers a cheaper alternative for families with its own Coles brand. Offering six hours of protection, the Coles tropical strength insect repellent may be a viable option for those a bit more price-conscious.
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.
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:
When it comes to buying insect repellent, our research identified the following drivers of customer satisfaction:
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.
With one in three (32%) survey respondents reporting that they suffer ‘particularly badly’ with insects bothering and biting them, insect repellents are often an essential when venturing outside. In addition, 43% of consumers noted that they always buy the same repellent, while only 14% 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 totally different. When it comes to insect repellent, that’s just how it is.
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, 1,258 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.
Here are the past winners from our insect repellent ratings:
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