How Permethrin-treated Clothing Keeps You Safe

Father and son sit near a campfire in the woods in their permethrin-treated clothes.

When you’re away from home and not being protected by Modern Pest’s Homecare Vector service, permethrin can keep you nearly free from insect bites. It’s a safe and effective way to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks. Used in conjunction with a powerful repellent containing DEET or Picaridin, permethrin can keep you safe from Vector-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, West Nile, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

What is Permethrin?

  • Permethrin is an insecticide.
  • It is classified as a pyrethroid.
    • Pyrethroids are synthetic compounds derived from pyrethrins.
  • Pyrethrins are naturally occurring substances extracted from Chrysanthemum flowers.
  • By the 1970s, permethrin was produced synthetically.

How Does Permethrin Work?

  • Permethrin acts as a neurotoxin and interferes with nerve function.
  • Insects are much more susceptible to the effects of pyrethroids than mammals.
  • It is an insecticide, not a repellent.
    • It doesn’t stop bites by preventing the insect from landing on you.
    • Instead, it incapacitates or kills the insect after it lands on you and before it bites.

What are the Downsides of Permethrin?

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as a likely human carcinogen if it’s consumed, which it never should be.
  • It was linked to Parkinson’s disease in one study.
  • Mammals can develop health problems if they ingest it or come into contact with large amounts of it.
  • Cats are highly sensitive to permethrin. They are often poisoned by permethrin when exposed to products meant to control fleas and ticks in dogs. Only use pest control products meant specifically for felines.
  • Permethrin can kill beneficial insects like arthropods.

When Used Correctly, Permethrin is Safe and Effective

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), you should always follow these guidelines when using permethrin:

  • Always follow label instructions
  • Do not apply permethrin to skin
  • Do not apply to clothing while it is being worn
  • Wash permethrin-treated clothing separately from other clothes
  • Don’t forget to apply insect repellent to exposed skin

Permethrin-treated Clothing

The best way to utilize the insect-killing power of permethrin is by wearing permethrin-treated clothing. The CDC recommends this as well. The U.S. military has used permethrin-treated uniforms since the early 1990s. The USDA devised a way to bind permethrin to fabrics, and the technology has been available on civilian clothing since 2003. It’s also possible to treat your own clothing by spraying it thoroughly with permethrin and allowing it to dry before wearing it.

Commercially-made Permethrin-treated Clothing

Several manufacturers make permethrin-treated clothing, including Buzz Off, Insect Shield, and Burlington. The pre-treated shirts, pants, hats, socks, outerwear, and pet apparel are sold by brands such as ExOfficio and Freeport, ME-based L.L. Bean. While safe and effective, the clothing doesn’t eliminate the need for applying repellent such as DEET or Picaridin to your skin as well. The industry standard is 0.52% permethrin, and manufacturers claim it will last for 70 washes.

Benefits of Permethrin-treated Clothing

  • Eliminates the need to continuously reapply repellents containing DEET or Picardin to clothing
  • Wearing the shirts for an extended period of time might create a buffer that will reduce the number of mosquitoes around you
  • The EPA says the amount of permethrin in pre-treated clothes doesn’t pose a risk to humans, including pregnant women.
  • Insect Shield even has a lifestyle and maternity line to satisfy increased demand, especially in Zika-affected countries like Brazil
  • The permethrin in pre-treated clothing doesn’t leach much onto skin

The Modern Solution

Permethrin is a great weapon in the fight against vector-borne illness when you’re away from home hiking, camping, at a sporting event, or doing anything else outside where the threat of mosquitoes and ticks exists. But when you’re at home, you can avoid spraying yourself and your clothes with insect repellent when you have Modern Pest’s Homecare Vector service. Our Service Professionals treat the perimeter of your yard. They target hot spots and eliminate breeding grounds. Call 1-800-323-PEST today to get a quote or schedule service.