Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent is a synthetic contact insect repellent that repels dozens of types of insects. It will also actually kill over 55 kinds of insects, such as ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, mites and others.
What makes Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent unique is that it can be used on any type of material including clothing, tents and other outdoor gear to repel many kinds of insects. Permethrin is sprayed onto clothing (while not worn so as not to get on the skin) wet and once it dries in about 2 hours, it is odorless and tightly bonded to the microscopic fibers of the material it is sprayed on. It doesn’t stain or damage the material and one application lasts for up to 6 washings. Note that once dry, permethrin will not wash off if it gets wet.
It is strongly suggested that permethrin be sprayed more liberally on shirt and pants cuffs and socks as that is the point of entry for insects. Each application uses about 6 ounces, so be sure to coat as much of the clothing as possible in addition to the cuffs and socks.
The fact that permethrin can be used to pre-treat clothing means that you do not have to worry about regulations at the airport because passengers are not allowed to carry liquid insect repellent onto planes. Airports do allow you to carry lotion type insect repellent, so you can treat your clothing with permethrin and apply lotion insect repellent to your skin for maximum protection. This is a great product for people who travel frequently, especially outside of their country due to different environments that might be more prone to insect infestation.
If you live in areas with a high density of insects, such as tropical locations, travel a lot to areas with a lot of insects, go camping or frequent outdoor picnics or barbecue during the summer, Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent might be perfect for you. I would not suggest it’s for only occasional use because the application requires 6 ounces per outfit and you do not want to waste it for infrequent uses — for those purposes, I suggest a skin/lotion-based insect repellent instead.
How Does It Work?
The active ingredient in permethrin is also called permethrin, which is a synthetic molecule similar to pyrethrum, a natural chemical found in chrysanthemum flowers. It was developed by Sawyer in cooperation with the U.S. Military, government agencies, universities and others.
Permethrin acts as neurotoxin, slowing down the nervous system. Its potency is affected by temperature — being stronger in colder temperatures. This means that it more strongly affects cold-blooded animals (insects and fish) over warm-blooded animals (mammals and birds).
Permethrin is toxic to fish and cats but it is only dangerous in very high doses on mammals, birds and humans. I contacted a representative at Sawyer Products and asked about it being hazardous to mice, fish and cats and received the following response:
“I don’t know about mice, but certainly fish and cats when IN WET FORM. That is the key. Once dry there are no harmful effects. I have never heard about mice, but perhaps they fall into the same category. When dried onto clothing it does not come off just because a person enters water so it would not be harmful to the fish when already applied to clothes.”
So, apparently, permethrin is only unsafe to mice, fish and cats when it is in liquid form. Once it dries, it is supposed to be completely safe.
Permethrin does not really pose a threat to humans because it is poorly absorbed through the skin and is rapidly inactivated by the body’s warm temperature. Skin reactions are uncommon.
You can know that Sawyer permethrin is a strong and effective insect repellent because even the US military uses it on the clothing of the soldiers when they go into an area more prone to attract insects, mosquitoes and malaria. Sawyer even received an EPA grant to do so. Rest assured that you are getting a great insect repellent that will work well for you.
Protection can be extended by storing the treated clothing in plastic bags between uses.
Permethrin has many other uses — some with Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent and some with other Sawyer permethrin products. I won’t go into details but here is a list of some of its other uses.
head lice (permethrin is an ingredient in most OTC lice products)
mites that cause scabies
industrial use against ants and termites
mosquitoes to prevent diseases such as dengue fever and malaria
Available Sizes & Where to Buy
Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent is available in a 6 Ounce Spray, 9 Ounce Non-Aerosol Spray, 12 Ounce Pump and a 24 Ounce Pump Spray. Prices start at around $8 for the 6 ounce spray up to over $12 for the 24 ounce pump spray, so it’s not exactly inexpensive. The fact that each application lasts 6 washings makes it a bit more cost-effective.
You can find it at camping stores, Amazon.com and many other sites online. The lowest prices I’ve found are at Colonial Medical.