Compare insect repellents from Bushman, ALDI Repellex, OFF!, Aerogard, Rid, Woolworths Select and Coles, based on effectiveness, value for money, smell of product, low skin irritation, packaging design, and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
For many of us, 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 many of us arm ourselves with insect repellents for such occasions, finding one that really works and consistently keeps the bugs away 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 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.
To offer a guide as to which insect repellent brand is rated highest for keeping the bugs at arm’s length, Canstar Blue has surveyed more than 1,300 Australian adults who have recently bought and used one of the many repellents on supermarket and pharmacy shelves. This is a good place to start to keep your next picnic or outdoor getaway insect-free.
Bushman was a clear winner this year, and while it only rated three stars on value, you’ll have to decide whether you want a mosquito repellent that’s cheap, or one you can actually rely on. The brand got five stars on effectiveness, low skin irritation, packaging design and overall satisfaction. It’s the second year in a row (and third time in four years) that Bushman has topped these ratings. That’s not a bad record.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 insect repellent ratings saw seven brands compared, rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:
ALDI Repellex, OFF! and Aerogard got four stars for overall satisfaction in 2019, while Rid, Woolworths Select and Coles were left on three stars apiece. Notably, only ALDI Repellex got five stars on value for money, and OFF! was the only brand to rate five stars for smell. Alongside this year’s winner, ALDI also got five stars on packaging, with OFF! securing top marks for low skin irritation.
Using insect repellent is not fun – and will therefore always feel like something of a grudge purchase – but it’s essential if you want to enjoy the great outdoors. To help you decide which will be best for your needs and budget, here is a guide to the brands in this year’s review.
As Australian as it gets, Bushman was developed in northern Queensland, notorious for mosquitos, with the company boasting up to 15 hours of protection for users against all types of flying nasties. Offering a variety of products, including those that have built-in 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 up to seven-hour’s 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. With Bushman offering the possibility to remain insect-free for up to 15 hours, splurging a bit of extra money may be well worth it.
Bushman was the only brand to receive five stars for overall customer satisfaction, effectiveness and low skin irritation, while also recording five stars for packaging design. It got three stars on value and smell.
When you think of mosquito repellent, you probably don’t think of ALDI, but the discount supermarket has been a popular favourite in our insect repellent ratings. While it’s the only brand to score five stars on value for money this year, ALDI Repellex rated four stars across most remaining categories, including overall satisfaction. However, it also got top marks for packaging design.
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.
Producing personal insect repellents for more than 50 years, OFF! has been a mainstay in the market, offering a number of different insect repellents for consumers. Products include the Tropical Strength range, stated to be dermatologically tested, as well as family products, suitable for children 12 months and over, according to the brand.
OFF’s insect repellent line-up consists of 175ml sprays and 150g aerosols. Its Tropical insect repellents are said to last for up to eight hours while the Family Care variant offers up to four hours of protection. Both are claimed to have a non-greasy formula that’s lightly scented.
Results-wise, OFF! achieved four stars for overall satisfaction, as well as effectiveness and packaging design, while only scoring three stars on value for money. However, it was five stars on smell and low skin irritation.
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 not a fan of the sprays, Aerogard also offers a roll-on repellent. The varieties come in different shapes and sizes, from 175ml sprays to 300g aerosols.
Aerogard had to settle on four stars overall in 2019. It also got four stars on effectiveness, low skin irritation and packing design, while earning three stars on value for money and smell.
Another Aussie brand, Rid was formed in the 1940s to help combat mosquitoes in damp climates, with the company building to become a 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 those 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, as well as 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.
Rid’s range is boasted to provide up to six hours of protection, depending on the product. Rid achieved four stars on effectiveness, low skin irritation and packaging design this year, but was rated three stars in all other areas, including overall satisfaction.
As an alternative to the big-name brands, Woolworths has produced a cheaper insect repellent for families, giving consumers the convenience of picking up some repellent while they do their grocery shop. While it may be convenient, there isn’t much variety, with only one repellent available, although it does boast up to six hours of protection.
Woolworths Select insect repellent was rated four stars for smell and value for money, while only scoring three stars for overall satisfaction, effectiveness, low skin irritation and packaging design.
Another supermarket giant to throw its hat into the mosquito repellent ring, Coles similarly provides a cheaper alternative for families with its own brand. Offering six hours of protection, the Coles tropical strength insect repellent may be a viable option for those a bit more price conscious.
Scoring three stars across every category, including overall satisfaction, Coles may not be perceived as the most effective, but may give you some protection if you’re desperate to get away from mosquitoes.
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 33% of respondents to our survey stating that they were worried about the chemical levels in the product they bought. 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.
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 55% of 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, 60% of consumers noted they always buy the same repellent, while 24% 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.
Picture credits: Elizaveta Galitckaia/shutterstock.com, daphnusia/shutterstock.com.
Canstar Blue surveyed 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 (this refers to repellent that is sprayed on your body) – in this case, 1,357 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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