Skip to main content

How Permethrin-Treated Clothing Repels Ticks, Mosquitoes, and Other Bugs

Summer bugs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nothing ruins the endorphin buzz of a backcountry adventure like discovering a tick burrowing into your hair or skin at the end of the day. (Or worse, finding one in your bed the next morning.) It’s more than an annoyance — tick-borne illness is on the rise, causing issues like rash and fever, as well as chronic illnesses like Lyme disease and other viruses.

Unless you’ve stumbled upon a tick repellent that actually works, prevention usually means a choice between jumping in a nearby lake in hopes of drowning any toxic hitchhikers or asking a friend to pick through your hair and beard like a mother gorilla caring for her young. However, a new fabric technology prevents ticks from latching on.

Legendary outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean, in cooperation with Burlington, launched a line of insect-repellent outdoor wear — shirts, pants, socks, and hoodies — treated with permethrin, a substance that is basically a nerve agent for bugs. Other manufacturers like Ex Officio and Duluth Trading Company have followed suit, but, according to a Consumer Reports test that focused on mosquitoes, L.L. Bean garments were most effective.

ll bean shirt
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Permethrin, a medicated lotion made from a synthesized extract of the chrysanthemum flower, has been around since the 1970s. Listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, it deters insects by disrupting their neurons. Don’t worry, though — the EPA has rated this substance perfectly safe at the level allowed for clothing (0.52 percent, if you’re curious). Moreover, field testing from manufacturers and consumers alike has shown that the permethrin doesn’t leach from fabric onto the skin. As to its effectiveness, reviewers say they rely on these garments for everything from hunting and fishing to yard work. Some have even said that the aura of permethrin-treated clothing wards off bugs from uncovered areas of the body, such as hands and face.

If you’re thinking this is more or less the same as your uncle’s technique of soaking his fishing shirt in DEET, think again. Permethrin-treated clothing undergoes a sophisticated process where the substance is actually bound to the fabric during manufacture. This also means that the bug repellent won’t dissipate after a few washes — you can launder permethrin-treated clothes just the same as everything else you own. Tumble-dry them, iron them, even bleach them, and they’ll still perform. And if you’ve ever been downwind of a heavy sweater covered in commercial bug repellent, you’ll be happy to learn that permethrin-treated clothes don’t stink.

It should be noted that permethrin won’t necessarily prevent bugs from landing on you, but it is proven to knock them dead within a matter of minutes. So you’re doing good for the world, as well as protecting yourself.

If they do land on your or your stuff, may we suggest these fun (and often ridiculous) bug-killing weapons?

Topics
Chelsea Batten
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chelsea Batten is a writer, photographer, and Kerouac groupie. One of the original digital nomads, she was seduced from life…
This new ultra-compact teardrop camper packs in a lot for under $15K
Everything you need; nothing you don't—all in a pint-sized package towable by almost any vehicle on the road
Camper sitting inside the rear hatch of Vistabule's DayTripper teardrop camper.

As the world's best and fanciest motorhomes balloon in size (and price), more RVers look to downsize their camp loadout. Teardrop trailers are the perfect expression of that minimalist ethos, featuring everything you need and nothing you don't. But, even among today's tiniest towable trailers, Vistabule's all-new DayTripper teardrop camper stands out as much for what it is as for what it isn't.
Get the low-down on Vistabule's tiny DayTripper teardrop camper

The DayTripper joins Vistabule's flagship teardrop camper as a budget-friendly, entry-level alternative. The sleek, simple shell measures just 12 feet from stem to stern—a full two feet shorter than its roomier sibling. It's also insanely lightweight at just 1,000 pounds with a sub-200-pound tongue weight, allowing it to be towed by almost any vehicle on the road with a tow package. Yet, by swapping the pricier model's rear outdoor kitchen for a rear hatch, the interior offers 14 more inches of interior space than the larger Vistabule teardrop. That's more than a foot of extra sleeping space, which makes this tiny teardrop a surprisingly good option for taller campers.

Read more
What to wear golfing: A guide for beginners
Don't look like a newbie on the golf course — this is what you should wear
man swinging golf club

Whether you’re picking up a club for the first time or you’ve been invited for a round, going golfing is much more than your skill. Going golfing is also about following a specific guideline with your dressing. With plenty of preppy-inspired styles like tennis and rugby back in style, golfing dressing trends are on the rise, and it’s time to get the lowdown on what works on the green. 

Unless you’re headed to a smaller driving range or a franchise like Top Golf, you’re expected to follow a certain style on the golf course. Courses joined to clubhouses might have stricter dress codes and might require specific clothing pieces. However, as a general rule of thumb, there are a few items that you can follow to ensure you look like a pro at the golf course. 
The golf polo

Read more
Tekto’s A2 Badger is a tanto-style stainless automatic knife for the outdoors
Tekto Knives A2 Badger Series knife on wood

Crocodile Dundee fans may recognize this one: That's not a knife. This is a knife. Tekto Knives A2 Badger OTF is a compact, automatic knife that is indispensable for many occasions. Its fast-firing blade packs a punch, too. The contoured button design ensures maximum performance in any scenario. You also get smooth, reliable deployment and incredible control, whether you're deploying the blade or retracting it. Most importantly, the glare-free Titanium-Coated D2 steel blade and handle are durable, can take a beating, and still function even in high-pressure situations. The A2 Badger OTF Mini is California-legal, so it's legal to buy and carry and meets the state's regulations. If you want one, you can use code MAN15 to get 15% off -- valid for the next 48 hours only.

 
Why you should buy the Tekto A2 Badger Series
Tekto // A2 Badger Walkthrough

Read more