Clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear can be treated with a pesticide called permethrin to kill or repel insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. Clothing and other products can be purchased pre-treated, or products can be treated using EPA-registered products. The U.S. Military has been using permethrin to treat combat uniforms for over 20 years to protect soldiers from diseases carried by insects.
Permethrin is the only pesticide approved by the EPA for these uses. When it is applied properly, permethrin binds tightly to the fabrics, resulting in little loss during washing and minimal transfer to the skin. Permethrin is poorly absorbed through the skin, although sunscreens and other products may increase the rate of skin absorption.
If you decide to use permethrin-treated clothing, consider these tips:
- Read the application instructions carefully and apply the product according to the label directions. Do not over-treat products.
- Any pesticide product with permethrin won’t do. Look for products with specific instructions for treating clothing.
- Permethrin treatments are only intended for use on fabrics; do not apply them directly to the skin or other items.
- Do not apply permethrin to clothing while it is being worn.
- Apply the products outdoors in well ventilated areas that are protected from wind.
- Hang treated fabrics outdoors and allow them to dry completely before wearing them.
- Wash permethrin treated clothing separately from other clothing items.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am – 12:00pm PST), or email at email@example.com.
Last updated April 15, 2019