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How we test mosquito repellents

Our rigorous testing means you can be confident you're making the right decision. Here's how we do it.

woman_spraying_insect_repellant
Fact-checked

Fact-checked

Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Our expert testers

With more years combined experience than we can count in our laboratories, we're proud of our expert testers. They've seen all types of products come through the labs, but one thing never changes – it needs to meet its claims. We test many types of products, but our focus on the basics means that when it's time to buy, you can be sure the product you bring home does its job well.

On top of this, many of our testers sit on Standards committees, both national and international, so we keep up to date with how labs and manufacturers are changing the standards and to give consumers a voice in this forum, where sometimes only government and industry are represented.

How we choose which repellents to test?

Why do we choose one repellent over another to test? There are a number of reasons, but our priority is to test what you'll see in the stores.

When we know what you want, our buyers go out and use your member fees to buy the repellents from a variety of retailers.

How often do we test repellents?

The last time we tested them was several years ago - but we like to check in periodically with the category to see how they are changing formulations to see whether anyone is creating a product that is exceptional.

How does CHOICE test mosquito repellents?

We use external labs that specialise in testing for repellency. Each product is applied liberally to the forearm of a human volunteer between the wrist and the elbow. Lotion and cream formulations are then spread evenly after application. We get the lab to test each product four times. 

Repellency testing is conducted in cages constructed out of clear plastic for easy viewing and fine polyester netting for ventilation. Approximately 40 unfed, 5 to 10 day old female mosquitoes are introduced to each cage. The mosquito used is the Dengue mosquito Aedes aegypti. 

Assessments are made prior to application of the treatments and then at 5, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, 240 and 360 minutes after application. During each post treatment assessment, arms are exposed to caged mosquitoes for three minutes and the number of 'attempted' landings and 'successful' landings were recorded.

What does our overall score consist of?

We weight the different time periods regardless of claims. The overall scores weights each period of time the product repels mosquitoes - the longer the better. It excludes 5 minutes. Weightings are as follows: 30min = 5%, 60min = 5%, 90min = 10%, 120min = 15%, 150min = 15%, 240min = 20%, 360min = 30%.

Other criteria

We list all the claims given for each product, however we don't test them as we try to focus on their prime purpose - how long they can keep mosquitoes from landing on you.

Our test lab

We maintain labs that are up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools to bring you results you can count on.