Answer:

Permethrin is a chemical insecticide used to kill residential pests and, at very low concentrations, as an insect repellent that can be applied on the outer sides of outdoor clothing and gear such as sleeping bags.

Permethrin can also be found in creams and liquids to treat lice, but use of these products, such as Nix, can cause irritation, is restricted to certain body areas, and can be applied for a period of only minutes.

For more details about permethrin's effectiveness and safety, how permethrin products differ, and how permethrin compares to DEET, sign in to read our full answer. Commercially available permethrin products discussed are Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent Aerosol Spray (from Sawyer), Permethrin Clothing & Gear Insect Repellent (from Repel), Permethrin SFR 36.8% Concentrate Insecticide (from Control Solutions Inc.) and Permethrin 10% Rapid Kill Insecticide (From Durvet Inc.). Brands that contain permethrin-impregnated fabric by Insect Shield include ExOfficio, Craghoppers, Cresta, and others.

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2 Comments

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Robert20533
August 9, 2020

I re-apply permethrin every 6 weeks to work pants and shoes, hoping to avoid bites from ticks and chiggers. If you buy a gallon at a time it is around 24 cents per ounce. It seems to work, but I also spray socks, pant cuffs and shoes with DEET before going outside to work.

S A20531
August 9, 2020

What about the products that have you saturate clothing to treat it--are these safe?

ConsumerLab.com
August 10, 2020

Soaking or saturating clothing with permethrin solutions is not recommended. It might cause skin irritation, and any leftover solution would need to be discarded appropriately. We've added information about this to the answer above.

S A20549
August 10, 2020

Thank you! I have done this numerous times and have not found it to irritate my skin. I'm glad to know there are no more subtle health risks.

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