Australian Clothing Insect Repellent

Since before the Vietnam War, the small plastic, screw top bottles of insect repellent have been a ubiquitous part of Australian military life. Although the basic design has stayed virtually identical, there are many minor variations with differing writing on the bottles, a change from Imperial measurements to metric etc. The biggest variation however is that insect repellent designed for use on the skin came in green bottles, whilst that for use on clothing was issued in light grey bottles:

The cap of the botle is protected by two large wings to prevent it from accidently unscrewing:

The lid unscrews to reveal a pin hole applicator thaty allows the very fluid liquid to be released slowly rather than coming out as one big gush:

The front of the bottle has raised lettering that indicates that the bottle contains ‘INSECT REPELLANT Clothing’, that it holds 75ml, its NSN number and instructions on how to use it:

The opposite side gives some words of caution and the date code at the bottom suggests it was made in October 1994:

It is fair to say that the bottles were far more popular than their contents, as recalled by Tony Warren:

These were on issue in NZ army right through to the mid 90’s. The version for skin contact would melt our nylon alice packs if they leaked. And in the jungles of SE Asia would keep most insects away but attracted one type of small beetle by the hundreds. So you’d end up with melted gear a burning sensation to exposed skin and covered in beetles. Most of us would tip out the repellant and fill the bottles with rifle oil. They made good oil bottles if nothing else. There was also a similar bottle for foot powder.

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