Canstar Blue reviews and rates mosquito repellents in Australia from Aerogard, ALDI, Bushman, RID, Coles, OFF! and Woolworths. Products have been rated on their effectiveness, smell, ease of use, skin irritation, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
You’ve probably landed on this page because you’re sick of mosquitoes and other buzzing bugs ruining your outdoor time, so you want to know which insect repellents are best at fending off the little blood-suckers. At Canstar Blue, we can’t provide any scientific results, but we can help you decide which mosquito repellent might be best for you, by reporting on the experiences of more than 1,600 Australians just like, you. Think of it as like asking 1,600 of your closest friends what they think about which insect repellents work best.
This year consumers have reviewed and rated seven brands of mosquito repellent, including all the big names you’re probably familiar with – Aerogard, Bushman, OFF! and RID – as well as the ‘own brand’ offerings from supermarkets ALDI, Coles and Woolworths. They’ve been compared on their effectiveness, skin irritation, ease of use, smell, value for money and overall customer satisfaction. So, which brand came out on top? ALDI Repellex.
ALDI has earned a great reputation for providing quality products at low prices, enjoying plenty of success in Canstar Blue’s customer ratings over the years, especially when it comes to home cleaning and food and drink products. Even ALDI Mobile has consistently rated highly in reviews of prepaid phone plans. ALDI is also a leading provider of products to help protect you and your home from bugs. In addition to our mosquito repellent ratings, the supermarket chain holds the award for insect spray. So whether you want to kill – or just repel – ALDI is clearly worth a look.
In our 2017 review of mosquito repellents, ALDI Repellex rated five stars for effectiveness, ease of use, value for money and overall satisfaction. However, it was not the only brand to earn top marks in the most important area:
No brand achieved top marks with regards to smell, while ALDI Repellex was the only one to get five stars on value for money. This is perhaps no surprise considering ALDI products usually cost half the price of other brands.
Here is an overview of the seven brands featured in this year’s review.
ALDI’s Repellex mosquito repellent comes in 150g aerosol spray cans, with the choice of two formulas. Repellex Tropical Strength offers up to six hours of protection from mosquito bites, while Repellex Odourless is marketed as a more child-friendly choice, with soothing aloe vera and up to four hours insect protection. ALDI Repellex was the only brand to record five stars for overall customer satisfaction.
The Aerogard product range spans three different formulas – Odourless, Tropical Strength, and Heavy Duty. All repel not just mosquitoes but also flies, sandflies, and most other little pests. Aerogard Odourless is said to be suitable for use on all ages from 12 months upwards, offering up to four hours of insect protection. The next step up is Aerogard Tropical Strength, which offers up to six hours of protection. Finally, with a strong 40% DEET, Heavy Duty lasts longest and is apparently suitable for ‘intense’ insect exposure. Both Odourless and Tropical Strength products come in a choice of aerosol sprays, pump sprays and roll-ons, while the Heavy Duty option comes only in an aerosol spray. Aerogard rated four stars overall this year.
Bushman Plus offers 20% DEET content for seven hours of protection, except for the gel, which bumps that up to a huge 80% DEET content (12 hours of protection). This formula also includes SPF 15 sunscreen for protection from UV damage, as well as mosquito bites. For a step up in strength for when you’re on a serious adventure with a serious number of mozzies and other biting little bugs, Bushman Ultra offers an aerosol with 40% DEET content (10 hours protection) or gel with 80% DEET (15 hours protection). Bushman topped our first insect repellent ratings in 2016, but this year rated four stars overall.
RID products include a range of antiseptic repellent formulas that repel not just mosquitoes but also pesky flies, ticks, fleas, leeches, sandflies, and midges, coming in a choice of lotions, aerosol sprays, pump sprays and roll-ons. Product strengths range from 7% DEET (lasting two hours) to 19.6% DEET (lasting for up to six hours), with some containing additives such as chamomile and vitamin E to soothe and heal skin. RID also offers an SPF 50+ sunscreen combo, which offers up to two hours of insect repellent and is also four hours water resistant, and outdoor mozzie coils which repel for up to eight hours. RID rated four stars overall in 2017.
Coles offers an affordable insect repellent for general use. The Coles Tropical Insect Repellent is an Australian-made aerosol spray which is said to keep you and your family safe from annoying and biting insects for up to six hours. For overall insect repellent satisfaction, Coles rated three stars in 2017.
There are three different OFF! product lines to choose from. Tropical Strength Insect Repellent is described as a gentle, lightly fragranced, non-greasy spray, which offers up to eight hours of protection against mosquitoes, flies, sandflies, ticks, and most other insects that bite. Likewise, OFF! Family Care provides the same properties except with up to four hours of protection, in a more gentle formula suitable for the whole family (ages 12 months and up). Both are available in a choice of aerosol or pump spray. These two products use Picaridin instead of DEET as the active ingredient. Picaridin is odourless, non-greasy, and doesn’t damage plastics or any other synthetic materials, like DEET can. OFF! also offers a clip-on insect repellent – a small refillable fan circulated repellent dispenser that uses metofluthrin to deter insects for up to 12 hours. It was three stars overall for OFF! This year.
For a simple and affordable insect repellent solution, Woolworths offers the Woolworths Select Tropical Strength aerosol spray with 20% DEET content. This is said to provide up to six of hours protection against flies, mosquitoes, and most other little biting bugs. Woolies rated three stars overall in 2017.
All insect repellents that are sold in Australia must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The active ingredient in an insect repellent is the product which is so unpleasant to insects that they can’t stand to be anywhere near it. While there are many different ingredients claimed to fight off insect attacks, there is only a handful found in most insect repellents.
DEET (diethyltoluamide) is the most common. While pure DEET is a bit stinky, it’s often sold in formulas designed to make it friendlier for human noses, whether by creating a neutral scent or a more pleasant one to override the DEET smell. It also tends to leave a bit of a greasy feeling on the skin. To the contrary, the more recently discovered ingredient Icaridin (aka Picaridin) is as effective as DEET while being almost odourless, non-greasy, and far less irritating to the skin. However, as it’s not been in use for as long as DEET, less is known about any long-term health risks.
Some other ingredients that have demonstrated insect deterrence include Melaleuca (tea tree) oil and Citronella oil. While these do offer some protection against insects, they’re generally not as strong and need to be reapplied much more frequently. They could be used for short-term protection, or where insect activity is light, but if you’re trekking into mosquito-infested areas with high prevalence of insect-borne diseases, you would probably be better off choosing the very strongest insect repellent you can find.
Our research suggests that most insect repellents are reasonably effective – with most brands scoring four or five stars in this area – yet our survey of consumers found that just 57% always buy the same brand, presumably because they can be a little ‘hit and miss’. There is a multitude of reasons why an insect repellent might not work well for you, but works perfectly fine for the person next to. Ultimately it’s probably worth trying a range of different brands and products to find the best match for you. With that in mind, we hope you found this review helpful.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have bought and used a new personal insect repellent in the last six months – in this case, 1,612 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 alphabetically. 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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