About ConsumerLab.com

Is Permethrin Safe to Spray on Clothes? -- tick on aerosol bottle

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. Using permethrin on clothing and outdoor gear is considered to be an effective strategy for preventing tick bites provided it is applied properly.

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.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to all CL Answers and over 1,300 reviews.

Join Now

Join now at www.consumerlab.com/join/

6 Comments

Join the conversation

Elizabeth20941
September 16, 2020

It is important to know that not "all mammals" react to permethrin in the same way. Permethrin insecticides are deadly to cats. Our cat was on a screen porch when insecticide was sprayed in the yard by the home owner. It nearly killed her.
Don't use insecticides if you can avoid it. Flea collars for dogs are also deadly for cats...a major cause of cancer in cats.

ConsumerLab.com
September 28, 2020

Great point! Among mammals, cats are indeed more sensitive to permethrin sprays, although the most serious adverse effects seem to occur at high concentrations (45% to 65%). Permethrin toxicity in cats usually occurs when an owner applies a spot-on, flea and tick control product intended for dogs or when a cat is in close contact with a recently treated dog. These spot-on products for dogs contain permethrin in high concentrations. As we note in our article, permethrin yard sprays can also contain high concentrations of permethrin, so these sprays may also be unsafe for cats. The amount of permethrin in sprays intended for treating clothes and outdoor gear is much lower. Provided items treated with these sprays are kept away from cats until they are dry, the treated items are unlikely to cause problems. However, to be extra cautious, people with cats may want to consider using another insect repellants.

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.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to CL Answers

Join Now

Join now at www.consumerlab.com/join/