Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Permethrin Work?
Unlike topical insect repellents applied to the skin, Permethrin is applied to clothing and outdoor gear material, bonding to the fabric fibers for up to 6 weeks (42 days) or 6 washings. When a tick, mosquito, or other insect comes into contact with Permethrin, it absorbs a dose that will either repel or kill the insect. Applied to clothing, tents, outdoor furniture, or sleeping bags, Permethrin is very effective at reducing the mosquito population in your camping area and keeping ticks from attaching to you.
Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent uses the same active ingredient found in hair shampoos for head lice. However, because your skin breaks down Permethrin within fifteen minutes of contact, it's not useful as a personal protection insect repellent when applied to the skin.
Permethrin-treated clothing and fabric should be your first line of defense, and it can be used in conjunction with a topical skin-based repellent such as Sawyer's Picaridin, Maxi Deet, and Ultra30 products.
What Can I Treat with Permethrin?
In addition to clothing and accessories like hats and waders, Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent is ideal for treating backpacks, tents, camp furniture, hammocks, mosquito netting, luggage, and even bed sheets. Since mosquitoes are better hoppers than flyers, adding more Permethrin-treated landing surfaces around you will improve your protection.
Unlike DEET, which may harm some fabrics and materials, Permethrin is compatible for use even on fragile fabrics such as silk, plus all synthetics and waterproof membrane fabrics. Permethrin will not affect plastics or finishes.
While Permethrin is safe and compatible with almost all fabrics, it has an easier time bonding to soft fabrics like cottons, wools, and synthetic blends. It will have a harder time bonding to fabrics with tighter woven fibers like rain flies and waterproof shells. Sweating and exposure to water will not significantly deteriorate the Permethrin application, but washing machine agitation deteriorates the application by knocking the molecules loose from the fabric.
How Do I Apply Permethrin Safely?
Sawyer recommends that you treat clothing and gear with Permethrin outdoors in a well ventilated area. If the treatment is accidentally carried out indoors, no adverse health effects are expected based upon calculations of inhaled dose. However, individuals with breathing problems, such as asthma, may be at greater risk. The odor arising from treating fabric with Permethrin is mostly from the aerosol propellants rather than from the insect repellent itself.
To apply, lightly moisten the fabric of the garment with a slow sweeping motion, keeping the bottle about 6 to 8 inches away and treating each side of the garment for about 30 seconds. Sawyer Permethrin should not be added to a washing machine for treatment — it should be sprayed directly onto clothing and gear.