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Permithrin Soaked Clothing
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Pat Rabun
(prabun) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Permithrin Soaked Clothing on 02/22/2007 08:04:31 MST Print View

I`ve read in several BPL articles and publications that soaking clothing in Permithrin is a very effective way to repel insects. What, exactly , is the recommend way to do this (soak in a bucket then hang, spray, what?)? What brand of Permithrin is recommended and who sells it? Any help would be much appreciated.


Edited by prabun on 02/22/2007 08:25:52 MST.

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Permithrin Soaked Clothing on 02/22/2007 08:20:40 MST Print View

I'm not the paragon of environmentalism, but as I understand it, this stuff kills bugs (for which I have no sympathy) but will also poison water sources if it gets wet during a stream crossing. I don't speak from authority, but suggest at least being aware of this.

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Permithrin Soaked Clothing on 02/22/2007 09:16:51 MST Print View


REI sells permethrin in pump spray bottles. The brand name they sell is called Sawyer. You should be able to check it out at

To use it you hang your clothing up outdoors. They recommond spraying each side for about 30 seconds. Then you need to let the clothing dry for several hours.

Hope that helps!


David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
Permithrin on 02/22/2007 10:00:49 MST Print View

I purchased a can of Sawyer spray from a local sporting goods store and sprayed my pants, shirt, hat, and socks before a JMT thru-hike several years ago. There were misquitos on the hike and the treated clothes seemed to help, based on other hikers' experiences. I also use 100% DEET when the bugs really get thick, which, in my experience, is the only thing that actually works. The combination of the two allowed me to experience a relatively bug-free trip.

I'd use it again.

Charles Strusz
(infochuck) - F
Jaiden - permethrin solubility on 02/22/2007 10:14:21 MST Print View

I'm pretty sure permethrin is NOT water soluble, so it will not come out in rain or creek crossings.

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
Re: Jaiden - permethrin solubility on 02/22/2007 10:41:35 MST Print View

Well there are lots of studies online showing that it's toxic to aquatic animals, which must mean it gets into the water somehow. NOTE: most concerns are for industrial pollution and direct application to water sources.

So, I guess the jury is still out. I am not convinced that it's unsafe, but I won't be treating my clothes next to a stream either! On the plus side, it does look to be very effective against ticks, so I'm considering buying some for my shoes and hiking pants. I didn't know anything about it before this discussion other than the blurb I read online.

Pat Rabun
(prabun) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Permithrin Soaked Clothing on 02/22/2007 12:36:42 MST Print View

Thanks Scott!!

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Permethrine longevity on 02/22/2007 13:21:04 MST Print View

Spraying is definitely the easiest way to treat clothing. It's the only way I have done so, both as a Marine in Okinawa and on many personal trips. The chemical is supposed to bond directly to fibers, and length of effectiveness varies considerably with the concentration used. Washing is not supposed to be a factor.

Sprayed treatment usually only lasts for a few weeks. The Sawyer Bottle specifies about 2 weeks, though I've used the same clothing, treated right before a NOLS course, and it was helpful against bugs for basically the full 30 days. (OF course by then, my natural body aroma may have contributed to keeping mosquitoes away).

The spray treatments are in 6 and 12 ounce bottles:

Commercial treatments actually submerge the chemicals in more heavily concentrated vats and can achieve up to a year of effectiveness this way. Ex Officio's BUZZOFF! line is one example. You could manage this the same way if you can get access to higher concentrations of liquid permethrine. There was a thread on The Lightweight Backpacker a couple of years ago that went into great detail. REI also offers a soakable version of permethrine which I have not used that is supposed to be good for 6 weeks:

BTW, permethrine is the same chemical used in many flea and tick collars and flea dips. Many Marines I knew in the Carolina tidelands would place flea collars around their boot tops to keep out fleas and chiggers.

Edited by Bearpaw on 02/22/2007 13:26:54 MST.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Permethrine longevity on 02/22/2007 13:43:58 MST Print View

Thanks for the info on the Sawyer product. I was just out for a two nighter and met this fellow who had on a Buzz-Off shirt and swore that it was the best investment he has made recently. He told me that the treatment lasts for 25 washings and that he had washed his shirt about 13 times since purchase and that it was still effective. What have you heard about this 25x washing cycle? I used the Sawyer product last summer and did not find that it was as effective as Deet but I may not have sprayed my clothes long enough to get the level of desired effectiveness. I really like the idea of using the flea collar around the boot top. Any comment on using the spray "on" my boots which are either poly mesh trail runners or mid-height boots with a gore fabric exterior? Does the permethrine penetrate poly fabric or adhere to gore fabrics? Sorry for so many questions but you seem to be the go to guy on this one.

david fausnight
(rckjnky) - F
Buzz off on 02/22/2007 14:25:32 MST Print View

I spoke to an Ex Officio sales rep a while ago. She said that the treatment was definately good to 25 washings. In fact they were trying to have it retested so they could advertise it at 42 washings. Now Im not sure how much of that was company coolaid, but it sounds pretty good.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Permethrine longevity on 02/22/2007 15:34:22 MST Print View

The realistic expectation is time moreso than washings. Water has a minimal effect on permethrine (from every thing I have heard). Conversely, the chemicals naturally lose their bonding over time. Fabrics soaked in the BUZZOFF style are supposed to be good for at least one year from the time of treatment. From the extended experiences I have had past the "two-week" window with spray-on treatments, they may well hold up considerably longer than a year. So while you might degrade the permethrine effect by repeated frequent washings, if you hang your stuff up and don't use it for a couple or three years, you may also not have eny effective repellent effect left. This would be due simply to natural breakdown over time, regardless of many or few washings.

I can't give any authoritative word on fabric except that permethrine bonds better to natural fibers versus synthetics. (Think of dog or cat hair for example) It DOES bond to breathable nylon such as Ex Officio clothing and similar brands of apparel. I don't know whether it might harm a waterproof/breathable laminate or not, but there's really no need since every jacket tight enough or thick enough to block water should also block a mosquito proboscis. With that in mind, why risk it?

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
Re: Re: Re: Permethrine longevity on 02/22/2007 17:01:15 MST Print View

Regarding Marines using flea collars around their legs for chigger protection, here is what the Army thinks about that:

If you do plan to use a dog or cat flea collar, make sure the ONLY ingredient is permethrin.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Permethrine longevity on 02/22/2007 17:59:10 MST Print View

Well, that's the army for you.;-) The marks in the pictures were clearly from wearing the collar directly on the skin. By wearing the collar around the boot, with a layer of leather and thick sock protecting the skin, this wouldn't be an issue. And in truth, the marks in those pics are no worse than some of the more intense chigger infestations I saw.

But I still prefer permethrine by a long shot.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
permethrin soaked clothing on 02/22/2007 18:11:21 MST Print View

Does anybody have any beta on the effect of UV radiation on permethrin clothing treatments? This is a potential concern if hiking at higher elevations like the Sierra, my particular playground. I know UV damages a lot of other materials and also that permethrin used as an insecticide by organic gardeners breaks down in less than 24 hours, leading to recommendations that it be applied in the evening for maximum effect. Maybe that is partly the reason the JMT poster had less than stellar results?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Bugs on 02/24/2007 14:58:19 MST Print View

I used some 100% DEET last fall on a trip, and accidently got it on my trekking pole handles. It seemed to eat them, and they're still sticky. That scares me. I did have good luck with peremethrin on a south Texas trip last summer.

Mireille Halley
(tinyscrafts) - F - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Bugs on 02/25/2007 00:00:56 MST Print View

BTDT, ran into the field office to make a call once and promptly melted the phone to my ear! noseeums, deerflies & skeeters vs plastic hmmm. think i'll take plastic.

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Permethrin on 03/02/2007 22:04:36 MST Print View

A while back I was looking at soaking a mosquito net in permethrin to keep no-see-ums away. I contacted someone from Sawyer and asked them a few questions.

First of all, the soaking treatment lasts longer than the spray treatment. Personally I would go that route if possible (easier for a mosquito net than clothing, however).

But I also wanted to ask why their treatments didn't last nearly as long as one I found from the UK (Lifesystems or in Military versions. He told me that basically the US government would only allow them to sell a certain amount or concentration of permethrin. Of course, he would never suggest such a thing, but I understand that if you put the same amount of permethrin in you'll get the same results as the longer treatments.

He said that it was important to seal the net in a dark plastic bag in between uses. It's important to reduce light (I imagine UV) exposure and air flow. I asked if it would last longer if I did that and only used the net once a month. He thought the treatment would last much longer than the advertised six weeks.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Bugs on 03/03/2007 07:02:09 MST Print View


If you add DEET to a plstic cup (like the ones from coffee machines) and leave it overnight the next morning the cup will have magically disappeared. Yikes.

In Holland the maximum concentration of DEET that is alowed to be sold is 50%. 50% DEET is as effective as 100% in making you less 'visible' for insects, it only weighs twice as much.

Permethrin isn't allowed to be sold at all (we sold it under the counter if you know what I mean)! Permethrin treated mosquito nets/clothing is allowed to be sold.

Food for thought.