Home / Trip Reports / Appalachian Trail / Appalachian Trail Prep / Permethrin Soak Method Guide

Permethrin Soak Method Guide

Permethrin Soak Method Guide
You can buy a pre-mixed Permethrin solution like Sawyer Permethrin (left) or dilute a highly concentrated form like 10% Martins Permethrin (right) to save money if you need to treat bulky gear or numerous clothing items.

Permethrin is an insect repellant and insecticide that bonds to fabric and can be used on your clothes, tent, or hammock to prevent Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, or the Zika Virus by killing ticks, mosquitos, and insects that land on your stuff. The liquid Permethrin application techniques discussed below are only for treating clothing or outdoor gear and are not intended for human or animal use.

Soak or Spray: Two Ways to Apply Permethrin to Clothing and Gear

There are two ways to self-apply Permethrin to clothing, tents, and hammocks: spraying or soaking. Spraying your clothes or gear is a convenient way to treat them with Permethrin if you have a limited number of items. To learn more about the spray method using pre-mixed Sawyer Permethrin, see Treating Your Clothes with Permethrin. Soaking your clothes in Permethrin is the second way to treat clothing or outdoor gear and can be useful when you have bulky or a large number of items to treat. I explain how to do this below.

Permethrin treated clothing kills the ticks that land on it as long as you retreat your clothing periodically to maintain its effectiveness
Permethrin treated clothing kills the ticks that land on it as long as you retreat your clothing periodically to maintain its effectiveness.

How long does Permethrin Treated Gear and Clothing Remain Effective?

Both methods of Permethrin self-application, spraying and soaking, remain effective for 6 weeks or 6 washes. You can prolong the effectiveness of self-applied Permethrin by storing permethrin treated gear or clothes in black plastic bags (since sunlight breaks down Permethrin) or by hand washing items because the agitators in washing machines also accelerate its decay.

There’s anecdotal evidence that soaking your clothes with Permethrin instead of spraying is effective longer, but there isn’t any publicly available laboratory to support that conjecture. It’s just common sense that soaking will penetrate both the inside and outside of a garment, while spraying it will just cover the outside.

If you want a longer lasting treatment that will last up to 70 washings, you can send your clothing to a company called Insect Shield which has developed a proprietary process for Permethrin application that lasts longer than what you can do a home. I have no idea what they do that’s different, which is probably why they keep it a trade secret. Here’s a link to the Insect Shield order form that you use to send clothing you want them to process. The prices are listed on the form.

You can also buy Permethrin treated clothing off-the-shelf from many manufacturers.

Why would you soak clothes with Permethrin instead of spraying them?

Soaking can be more convenient if you have bulky items (tent or hammock) you want to treat or many articles of clothing. Soaking is also likely to provides better coverage than spraying, including the inside and outside of garments than spraying which may miss spots. If an insect avoids the outside of a garment and makes it to your skin, there’s a good chance that it will still be killed if the inside of your clothing has also been pre-treated with Permethrin.

Martins Permethrin 10 percent
Martins Permethrin Concentrate

What is the most economical way of soaking gear and clothes with Permethrin?

While you can soak items in the pre-mixed 0.5% Permethrin Solution sold by Sawyer, it is more economical to buy a highly concentrated Permethrin solution like Martins 10% Permethrin and dilute it down to the recommended 0.5% strength solution recommended for treating fabrics.

While often intended for veterinary or agricultural use, highly concentrated Permethrin solutions diluted to a 0.5% Permethrin concentration are thought to be as effective at killing insects as the pre-mixed 0.5% Sawyer Permethrin solution. No one knows definitively in the absence of laboratory testing, although anecdotal accounts from many people suggest this to be the case. Follow all manufacturer product instructions and use at your own risk.

How to dilute concentrated permethrin.

If you choose to dilute a concentrated form of permethrin like Martin’s 10% Permethrin, you need to reduce it to the 0.5% concentration recommended for clothing treatment. A 32 ounce (1 quart) size bottle of Martin’s 10% Permethrin comes with a built-in measuring cup which is useful for this process.

I prefer bagging up the clothing I plan to treat with Permethrin in 1 gallon freezer bags before pouring the Permethrin solution over them and letting them sit and soak.
I prefer bagging up the clothing I plan to treat with Permethrin in 1 gallon freezer bags before pouring the Permethrin solution over them and letting them sit and soak.

If you use a 10% Permethrin concentrate, you want to dilute it with 19 parts water and 1 part of 10% permethrin concentrate to produce a 0.5% Permethrin solution. For example, if you wanted to make a gallon (128 ounces) of a 0.5% Permethrin solution using water and a 10% Permethrin solution, you’d mix 6.4 ounces of 10% Permethrin solution with 121.6 ounces of water. If you do this using a 1 gallon plastic water bottle (shown above), you’d pour off 6.4 ounces of water and replace it with 6.4 ounces of the 10% Permethrin concentrate. Shake well to mix it up.

Precautions. Martin’s 10% Permethrin is a neurotoxin and you do not want to get it on you or inhale its fumes. See the manufacturer’s safety sheet for more information. I recommend wearing protective gloves when working with it, keeping it away from all animals, food, and water supplies, and only using it in a shady, well-ventilated, outdoor area. All of the containers used to hold Permethrin should also be properly labelled and disposed of as recommended on the product label by the manufacturer. One reader has reported a sensitivity to diluted Martin’s that results in a burning sensation on their skin when their garments get wet after treatment. If in doubt, treat a test garment and wear it in rain to determine whether you suffer from this sensitivity. If this is the case, send your clothes out to Insect Shield for professional treatment or spray using Sawyer’s pre-mixed Permethrin.

Pour enough Permethrin solution to soak each item and then let sit for a few hours so that ot fully soaks the material.
Pour enough Permethrin solution to soak each item and then let sit for a few hours so that it fully soaks the material. Sawyer recommends 3 ounces of 0.5% Permethrin solution per garment. But you can add more if it’s needed to soak the item as long as it’s diluted to the same 0.5% concentration.

What’s the best way to soak your clothes with Permethrin?

While you can dip your clothes in a large bucket of 0.5% Permethrin, I prefer bagging them individually in 1 gallon freezer bags and pouring a smaller quantity of Permethrin solution into each bag. This eliminates having a large amount of left-over Permethrin that is complicated to safely dispose or store.

I then massage the liquid into the garment and let it sit for a few hours to fully soak through all the layers of clothing, before pulling it out of the bag and hanging it up to dry in the shade. Sunlight breaks down Permethrin, so you should avoid drying Permethrin soaked clothing on a clothesline in the sun.

Once dry, the Permethrin treated clothing is ready to wear
Once dry, the Permethrin treated clothing is ready to wear.

Once the garments have dried, they’re ready to wear. There’s no need to wash them or dry them in a drier before use. Doing so will only begin to break down the Permethrin that has bonded to the garment’s fabric.

Can you soak clothing using pre-mixed 0.5% Sawyer Permethrin?

Absolutely. It can be far more convenient to soak your clothes using Sawyer Permethrin since it’s pre-mixed to the correct 0.5% concentration without having to dilute concentrated Permethrin, safely dispose of contaminated containers, or left-over Permethrin solution. It’s just more expensive.

But you can also save if you buy pre-mixed 0.5% permethrin sprays in larger quantities like the 1 Gallon Size – JT Eaton $averpack with Garment Sprayer. 

Liability Disclaimer: The author of this article and website is not responsible any damage, personal injuries or death as a result of the use of any information, maps, routes, advice, gear or techniques discussed herein. All activities are carried out at your own risk.

Updated 2018.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

Most Popular Searches

  • permethrim tc clothes
  • permethrin soak method
  • permethrin military soak


  1. Hi Section Hiker, I could only find 0.25% Permethrin (Wilson’s) solution at a large hardware chain. I’ve sprayed my gaiters and a couple pairs of shorts. Will this concentration be effective enough? even just as a deterrent to ticks? Thanks!

    • It’s probably just less effective. The bugs are killed when the come on contact with a permethrin molecule. Fewer molecules means less efficacy. It’s your risk…

      • Hi SectionHiker, I sprayed my Tilly’s with 0.25% Permethrin and took them for a test hike in a pretty buggy area, like around some beaver ponds. The bugs, even the horseflies, don’t like it one bit. They’ll buzz around, quickly land but bugger off just as quickly. I had not one bite.

  2. I’ve been doing this for some time. You can often buy the concentrate at feed stores. There’s a local one that deals with all things horse and they carry it. It’s also available on eBay… can’t say fleaBay, because those critters would be dead!

    I put some of my poured off solution in a spray bottle and spray the perimeter of my tent when car camping in tick country.

  3. Does Permethrin affect the waterproofing of a tent or break down the fabric in any way?

    • Dave, I would suggest you get one of the concentrates that has the lowest amount of petroleum distillates. A lot of the mixtures sold at the feed stores and online have a higher concentration of PD which appear to be solvents and thus might damage your seam seals, etc. I found Martin’s makes a Permethrin 10% with no PD listed on the label (which would indicate that the PD percentage is below 10%, IIRC), whereas all the other concentrates I found had the PD warning. For example, there is a 36.8% Permethrin that I was going to buy since that’s the most cost effective, but I opted for the 10% with lower PD since I was not sure how much of a problem the PD might present to the different types of clothing, especially technical clothing, I plan on soaking. Hope that helps!

  4. Very timely post. I am considering treating my clothes with permethrin for the first time. Phillip, is there any information that you know of regarding the potential toxicity of wearing clothing treating with permethrin? I am also curious what you think of picardin versus deet. Sometimes the smell of deet is repulsive and I am looking for an alternative.

    • Permethrin used as directed is perfectly safe for clothing. I’ve been using it for years. I prefer 100% deet but rarely need to wear it because I’m wearing full coverage clothing treated with permethrin.

    • I’m another who hates the smell and feel of DEET. I use picaridin as much as possible. Picaridin doesn’t seem to last as long as DEET and, for me, isn’t as effective in lower concentrations, however, I still use it over DEET.

    • Just fyi- I used Deet on my raincoat and the solvents damaged the material, it shriveled right up.

  5. Once you’ve completed soaking a garment in the Permethrin solution, using a 1-gallon freezer bag, can you reuse the same solution to treat another garment?

  6. Thanks for the info. The spray bottle of Sawyer is about 22 oz so I just keep re-using it by adding one ounce of the 10% concentrate and refiling it a little short of the top. Not exactly 0.5% but the bugs don’t seem to notice. I never mentioned this to anybody because I thought it it was too “fringe”. Now I don’t feel so weird when I am doing it.

  7. Bought concentrate at Tractor Supply. Diluted it to .5-.10% -/+. Used a Harbor Freight garden sprayer, laying each item in a makeshift spray box. The best of both soaking and spraying!

    BTW – what the heck is a “technical hike” and why is it called that? Are other hikes not genuine hikes?

    • Not sure what context you saw the word “technical”, but some hikes are more technical than other if they require climbing gnarly mountains on exposed rock or off-trail. It’s just a figure a speech though. They’re all hikes.

  8. Never leave a trailhead without permethrin treated clothes, shoes and gear!Too many insidious, rare but terrible spirochete diseases out there carried by microscopic ticks you won’t even see. And don’t forget head and tent mosquito nets. Greatly reduces bugs buzzing against them. Makes them keep a respectful distance. The concentrated liquid is on ebay too.

  9. A couple of caveats about usage, as cited in the “permethrin” Wikipedia entry: “Permethrin is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic life in general, so extreme care must be taken when using products containing permethrin near water sources. Permethrin is also highly toxic to cats, and flea and tick-repellent formulas intended and labeled for (the more resistant) dogs may contain permethrin and cause feline permethrin toxicosis in cats.”

  10. I’ve been soaking my hiking clothes in Martin’s permethrin the last couple years. Never see ticks anymore. Have no idea what happened to them, but I’m happy they are gone. I found usually one treatment in the Spring was good for the year. YMMV and all that.

  11. Does this stuff wash off like DWR and get into the environment and food chain?

  12. As mentioned, permethrin is highly toxic to cats, so keep your kitty away from all permethrin treated products as well as from the treatment area. It’s also bad for vital pollinators like bees and butterflies. Do be cautious and follow the label instructions carefully. Unfortunately permethrin does not affect biting flies (that’s on the label, too). It’s the same stuff used in the various “bugs off” brands of clothing.

    Rather than spraying shoes and socks, which will get into the water during stream crossings, wearing lightweight low gaiters, if fastened over your pant legs, will keep ticks from getting inside your pant legs. You can then just spray/soak the pant legs above your knees.

    • WET permethrin is highly toxic to cats. Once dry, it is not. Still, I would hesitate to treat the cat’s bedding with it, even though I have seen absolutely no warnings about this anywhere.

      • Agreed. We have an outdoor cat and her kitty condo has an old sleeping bag, treated with permethrin, in it. Hasn’t hurt her one bit.

  13. One of the wonderful things about permethrin is its not a persistent toxin. It breaks down in the environment. It’s fairly safe to cats and fish once it’s bonded to clothing. Sunlight breaks it down. One way to dispose of it is to pour it out onto your driveway and let it dry and have the sun render it non-toxic. There are lethal dose levels that will affect bugs. Splashing through a stream will not affect anything downstream. You want to spray your lower pants legs, shoes and socks, too.

    • I am not sure that pouring it on your driveway is a good idea. This could wash away in a rain before it’s decomposed and end up in surface or groundwater. If it were that simple, that would be on the bottle. I think the better practice would be to save what is left over in a clearly marked bottle for future use.

  14. As long as you don’t spray your cat with it it’s fine. Same caveat as with flea drops on cats. They lick themselves and swallow it. Don’t use on cats. I have used permethrin as a dog dip and used flea drops containing it on my dogs, and the drops are direct skin contact with never a rash or reaction in my experience. Not recommended for humans! Clothing and gear treatment is enough.

    I’ve read that permethrin used for decades by US military on clothing with no widely reported evidence of any problems.

    Rocky Mtn spotted fever and babesiosis among many, are the risk of not using it. These can be as tough to kick as the widely known Lyme disease. Permethrin a must on children’s clothing and bedding IMO, even in summer camps.
    It’s no joke. See:


  15. Great article. Any idea on the amount of Permethrin to add to a gallon bag to treat, say, an Ex Officio shirt? Also, when you mix yourself is there a shelf life issue? The reason I ask is that the Sawyer stuff smells allot different than the stuff I mix up with water.

  16. Good tips and tricks. No more ineffective au naturale oil sprays…

  17. Permethrin kills cats. Remember this, as cats for some reason are different than humans in this respect. My friends accidentally killed their two cats when the sprayed permethrin on their yard to kill ticks. Just a fact, but important if you have pets you have to be extremely careful with this stuff!

    • But once dry, the research out there indicates it is safe even for cats, so somebody wearing treated clothing should not be concerned about coming in contact with cats. While wet, permethrin is toxic to humans and pretty much everything, so be very careful working with the wet product (gloves, mask, eye protection), and this is not always emphasized enough on some permethrin containing products. Once dry, it is bonded and harmful only to the smallest organisms. Of course we will probably find out in ten years that even in the bonded form it causes some long-term ill effect, like most things. =)

    • It is toxic to cats WHEN WET.

    • Cats are different from humans in many other respects.

  18. I know it is dependent on the garment, but for the clothing you have pictured hanging up to dry, how much of the solution did you pour into each zip lock bag?

  19. And for the people who want 70 washes before re-treating, I must say that Insect-Shield has GREAT service and turnaround time.
    Thanks, Philip, for the instructions on how to soak tents, clothes, etc in permethrin.
    I suspect that there are other diseases out there carried by ticks. Here’ s a new local one: Heartland Virus Syndrome https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartland_virus
    And for sanity’s sake, permethrin works well for chiggers. Darn things want to feed where the sun don’t shine!

  20. The Heartland virus reference mentions the standard tick bite prophylaxis dose of doxycycline. I asked for and got this once after a bite. I think it was 100mg twice a day for 5 days. Doxy available from some vet supplies too. But useless of course against a virus!

    I once backpacked with a guy who earlier had what was eventually diagnosed as RMSF – Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The doxycycline treatment might have worked but he had no known tick bite. Doctor said could be from an unseen tiny, almost microscopic tick. Here permethrin very likely would have warded off several months of disabling sickness and close to a year for full recovery.

    Thanks to Philip for raising public awareness of the easy way to prevent these really bad tick borne diseases.

  21. Thank you Phillip. This answers most, if not all, of my questions.

  22. Has anyone seen any sediment that look like small elongated clear crystals on the bottom of the Permethrin bottle? I wonder what it is.

    • Yes about the elongated crystals! I sprayed my hiking shoes with leftover solution I mixed up last summer and after it dried my shoes were covered with these crystals. I mixed up some more with distilled water instead of my hard well water for the rest of my gear and there were no crystals. I don’t know if those were crystals of permethrin, or if there was a chemical reaction between the permethrin and the minerals from my well water.

  23. Just followed your instructions to the letter and find that the dried clothes have a heavy chemical smell…is this normal??

  24. Are there any problems with storing the diluted solution as long as it’s stored out of the sun?

  25. How do I dispose of the permethryn once the garment has been soaked in it?

    • Let it dry/evaporate in sunlight. That will break it down and you dispose of the container.

    • I put my excess runoff into a well labeled spritzer bottle and take it with me on car camping trips. I spray the outside perimeter of the tent and the entrance area to keep the little critters at bay. I also use it to spray my shoes and boots before I leave on a trip.

  26. Thanks for the write up. I’ve been using the 0.5% clothing treatment. I find the spray nozzle included with the Sawyer 24 oz. creates too fine a spray and instead transfer to a spray bottle with a better adjustable spray to aoid loss to aerosol (drift) by using a heavier spray. I may go to the soak method. One question I have is: is the formulation — the “inert ingredients” — in the 0.5% clothing treatment different from the the 10% and higher veterinary treament? I’ve been assuming that the clothing treatment includes a textile binding agent.

  27. Thank you for this insightful and detailed explanation. What did you use to measure the liquid?

  28. Philip,
    How do you treat your quilts and tents with Permethrin?
    Gerry B.

  29. 1 part permethrin and 19 parts water dilutes it down to 5%, not .5%. You would have to do 1 part permethrin and 199 parts water to achieve .5% solution. Or is my math wrong? 1/20 =.05. Move the decimal over to the right two places and you get 5. So, the question is: do we need .5% or 5%?

  30. Traveling to the Amazon

    I have 37% permethrin that I bought at a feed store. I’m assuming I just need to dilute it to achieve .5%…unless I’m missing something. Very helpful posts, by the way.

    • Just be aware of the potential risk (accelerated break down of the materials) to seams and certain synthetic materials if the solution includes high levels of petroleum distillates.

  31. I used the mixing ratio here for a gallon. I soaked all my clothes last week. Came to start the AT for a section hike in the rain. Big mistake. The first time I did my clothes I used the premixed spray. Worked fine.
    This time since I was seeing a lot about how bad the ticks were getting, I decided to soak them. After about 15 minutes in the rain, I started feeling a tingling on my ankles. Turns out that everywhere I had tight clothing, I was burning and stinging. I had to jump off the trail today to try to wash this out and to treat the chemical burns that are on my skin.
    Maybe I missed the part about not getting wet after treating.

    • Must have Been acid rain. I’ve never ever heard of anyone having this kind of reaction. Either you messed up the ratios or something else is going on. What product did you use and how much water did you add?

      • I used the martins and mixed it just like you said. Being out in the rain right after it was done was not good. I found several articles about this very issue I have. I didn’t think to look for any issues, since it was posted here and seemed reasonable. This is day three after I first put the clothes on and I showered last night when I got in. Still burning like a bad sunburn. I’m soaking the clothes in Dawn to help break it down and then will wash them in the machine a few times. I should have just sprayed with the premix like I did before. There was no problem that time.

      • All of the citations I’ve found online cite burning sensations as a side effect when used as topical cream at 20 times the concentration I recommend. Permethrin is the main ingredient in creams to treat headline and very widely prescribed. Sounds like you are unusually susceptible and why you didn’t experience the same reaction when using the premixed variety at the same concentration. Anyway, washing your clothes six times and drying them in the sun will get rid of most of the permethrin.?soaking in Dawn won’t to anything. It’s the agitation of the washing machine that breaks down the permethrin as well as sunlight.

    • I am not sure about martin’s permethrin but most Peremthrin from feed stores are not formulated to bond to materials. It is possible the rain was washing the Perenthrin out. The spray Peremthrin made for gear and clothing is formulated to bond to materials. This might also be why some people are finding they are getting better results from the spray. Always follow the Label when dealing with pesticides.

  32. The Dawn was recommended by someone who works in pest control. Works with this stuff all the time.
    When I sprayed it on, it was just on the outside. It also had a longer drying time. I went out only days after I applied it. Could have been a little damp. But the rain had to be the issue. I felt the stinging about 20 minutes or so after my socks got wet. Everywhere that was tight got it the worst. Right now I’m looking at chemical burns that suck. I’m off the trail right now trying to fix this. My feet are the biggest issue right now.

    • Thanks for the feedback and really sorry for your troubles. I will update my post to warn people about complications of mixing your own instead of using Sawyer’s pre-mixed Permethrin or sending their clothes away to Insect Shield. This is really the first time I’ve ever heard about your symptoms from anyone and thousands of people have used this formula, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Heal up and have a better hike.

      • Good. That’s why I was posting here. I spoke to the medical people at Martin’s. They told me that the Dawn was perfect that it did in fact help break it down. Oil base and all. As far the burning…..they said to bath again in the Dawn and then rub vitamin E on everything.
        We discussed this at length and came to the conclusion that part of the issue was that I got so wet so soon after I had treated the clothes. Maybe if I had waited longer for a complete 110% dry time?!? Maybe not getting soaked right off the bat?!? But I’m glad you are willing to change a few things in your article. Thank you for that. I think pushing extremely long druntimes would help. And the rain thing. What do you do about that? It had to be that I was so wet so soon.
        I’m off. Ow to get more vitamin E and wash my clothes several times.

  33. Sammy White: from what you wrote abive, the stinging was worst at tight places: wrists, waist, hems of pants?

    I’m wondering if how you dried your clothes may have affected this. I know from experience that when hand laundered clothes are hung to dry, water drains to the lowest point (wrists, shirt tails, pant leg hems] and those are the last to dry. With well laundered clothes, it’s only water that’s draining down. But with a permethrin solution, you’re getting permethrin draining down, too. And, as the garment dries and solution settles to the bottom of the hanging garment, the level of dissolved permethrin will increase, too. I’d bet this would account for some of the experience you had. Certainly, when I treat my clothes, I’m going to dry them flat. Why take a chance?

    • I think it’s possible the the adverse reaction was to the solvent that Martins is dissolved in and not the permethrin itself. But he says he has no adverse reaction to sawyers permethrin which is dissolved in water. Just a possibility.

      • I have an allergy to some petroleum products.
        I worked for years (10+) in both mechanical and painting automobiles.
        I often used solvents (paint thinners) to clean my hands.
        My resistance broke down and I became very allergic to some petroleum products.
        Now I am very sensitive to some cleaners, and even some bug sprays.
        I will have to be aware of the PD used in the permethrin.
        Perhaps Sammy has a similar sensitivity?

      • I think Sawyer Permethrin is dissolved in water. It’s the higher concentrates where you have to watch out for petroleum distillates. Those are not really intended for clothing but horses or exterminators, but they are less expensive in quantity, and do the job when diluted down.

      • I mixed the concentrate in water.
        I’m not following.
        What solvent are you taking about?

      • The solvent in the actual concentrated formula before you water it down. Have you had yourself tested for an allergic reaction to petroleum distillates on your skin? We had another reader comment that that is the root of his skin sensitivity, not the permethrin itself.

        Sawyer permethrin is dissolved in water not petroleum distillates and I believe you said it didn’t cause an allergic reaction for you. Seems like that’s a quite plausible explanation.

        Don’t you think that spraying on the solution on the outside of the clothes soaks into the fabric on the inside? It sure does on my clothes.

      • When I used the premixed from Sawyer last year, all was good. I sprayed the outside until the color of the garment had darkened. So it wasn’t as drenched as when I soaked them. The soaking definitely put. Hemicsls closer to my skin.
        I’m not allergic to it. No breathing issues and no issues when I got it on my skin if I rinsed it. I’ve work with other petroleum based products. All good.
        My issue was, I think, entirely caused by the chemical not being totally dry and then turning back into concentrate strength when I got wet.
        The only way I could ever promote soaking would be if there ar lest a week of dry time. The outside was dry. The inside of each finer had not dried.
        A week or more of dry time and wring out the clothes as good as you can.

    • No. It was NOT how it was dried. I turned and rotated the clothes while drying. It was not the build up issue you speak of. Of it was build up I would have had issues in other area of the clothing.
      I keep looking for the update in the article, maybe I’m overlooking it.
      I had a reaction from the permethrin after soaking my clothes. Period. I absolutely used the mixing instructions presented in this article. I saw nothing about drying time or any build up in clothing in THIS article.
      One of the issues MIGHT have been that I should have let the clothes dry for longer, before getting wet in a down pour. It was dry to the touch. But maybe a warning in the article about making sure you dry the clothes for a week before you use them, maybe that would have helped. MAYBE the permethrin had not fully dried and adhered to the fibers. Then the rain reactivated the “not set in” permethrin.
      But I absolutely had chemical burns from using the soaking method. Call Martin’s and ask for recent reports of problems. That would me they will tell you about. I spent time on the phone on their medical hotline to help get relief.
      Spray your clothes on the outside and don’t soak them.

      • Ok. I found an update.

        If it happened to you, you might think the issues shoild be discussed more and maybe put warnings in BOLD letters about dry time and the issues.

  34. I have read everything and am VERY confused. Please HELP. If the soak you buy (and I do) is 0.5% and you add it to two bottles of water and soak clothes, then when dry they are at 0.5% permethrin.
    By that logic, if you use the 10% stuff, and I have, you can dilute it 20X and get 0.5%, but after the clothes dry, won’t they be back to 10%? The “dilute” is water which will just evaporate. When I use this my clothes are not “dripping”, but wet when I take them out of bag (nothing is left over) and hang them to dry. Seems I must be wearing 10% not 0.5.

  35. Last summer i was rushed to hospital via ambulance, i was really sick- pain, vomiting,104.5 fever-thought it was Noro virus-
    After tick panel tests done, found it was Anaplasmosis -bacteria from tick, cured with 5 days of the antibiotic Doxycycline -now i do battle with ticks ,- I’m using premetherin on clothes, Natrapel (picardin) on skin, insect killer around cabin in Vt, constant checking, with walking stick I hit grass before i brush past- sounds extreme but its not that much trouble, worth it- As I walked the Neponset river trail in blue hills last week a beaver was beside me, following in river-also had lyme twice-(not sure if i got tick in northern Vt. or the Blue hills near Boston,Ma )

    • Hey James,
      My husband almost died 2 years ago, from Anaplasmosis….. I knew he was sick from a tick bite, but the 1st doctor ignored my statements….. saying cuz hubby had no rash, that he WASN’T sick from a tick bite, that his high fever was from the flu.
      Then 2 days later, hubby was gasping for air and I rushed him to the hospital. This hospital listened to me, and immediately put him on Doxycycline, oxygen & fluids. After sending his blood out to the CDC and another lab, they concluded my findings. They said his liver and upper respiratory system was failing, and he would have 2 within 2 days if I hadn’t taken him to the hospital. SCAREY!!
      Now, we always keep 2 Doxycycline tablets at the ready in our home, and will begin using this Permethrin soak whenever we venture outdoors.

  36. EDIT: ….. he would have DIED within 2 days…

  37. Some folks around me have shared how the pants and shirts feel different after being sprayed.. were not sure if the clothes were totally dried.
    I wonder if the stuff crystallizes and that’s what we’re feeling ?

  38. correction: is it safe to soak if my tent is 100% nylon?

  39. just bought some 10 pct petroleum based permethrin (not on purpose, read the label) diluted it and soaked 1 pair of darn tough socks. dry time of about 24 hrs and slight petro smell. same kind of socks soaked with sawyers .05 dry time 6hrs no odor. 1 gallon of permethrin and 1 pair of socks for sale cheap

  40. Similar question to Marina, maybe ask differently. Doesn’t the amount you use per item affect the resulting amount of permethrin on the cloths? If I spray one ounce on a shirt so it is fully damp and a put 3 ounces in a bag with a shirt and it absorbs it all, won’t the bag shirt have more permethrin and be better at keeping bugs away? The concentration in the bottle may be the same .5%, but the coverage on the cloths must be different.

    If I spray, how much should i use? If i soak, i guess I use as much as the cloths will hold?

  41. Do you also treat next to skin clothes with this method? Ever had any allergic reaction when sweating?

  42. Question …. this is my first time using this to send my kids to camp. I am going to make a soak for the clothes, air dry them, and then plan to wash the clothes after they dry on gentle cycle and a quick run in the clothes dryer. I read the treatment is supposed to be good for up to 6 washings with the soak …. anyone else wash and dry after treatment/drying and did you still have good results?

    thanks in advance.

  43. understood, but if it says good for up to 6 washings the first washing should be ok, correct?

  44. I just used this method about two weeks ago for packing a week on the AT in CT. Lots of bugs but none on me. No ticks, no chiggers and one mosquito bite. It worked extremely well. coated my tent fly and screen with it and never had a mosquito get in the tent.

  45. The Sawyer permethrin soak says it’s 0.5%, and then says to dilute 1 bottle w/ 2 bottles of water, so final concentration of 0.16%. Does this sound right? And would you then want to dilute the 10% solution to .16% for a soak?

  46. I did the soak method using a diluted Martin’s Permethrin mix. Some of the clothes do have a slight chemical smell (but not petroleum, as some others have commented). I tried to use the 3 ounce method suggested. Maybe the smell is from too much of the solution? None of the bags had any of the solution left after the soak, so an excessive amount seems unlikely. Not a real problem, but in my bathroom where I hang things up to dry after a hike, the smell is noticeable.
    Otherwise, worked as described. Bugs away! Thank you.

  47. I’ve been wondering about the Insect Shield proprietary process for awhile now. The other day, when I was using my vacuum sealer to seal some food, I wondered if maybe they used a vacuum process-that would tend to force the solution into the pores of the clothing and make it more resistant to washing/drying. I know that my sealer is great for marinated meats, so maybe it would work for Permethrin on clothing as well. I wish I had a spare sealer, or a cheap one I could experiment with a bit.

  48. 1:19 rate and 6.4 oz of 10% Permethrin in a gal of water give you a 0.50 % permethrin . To get a 0.05 % you need a 1:119 rate. 0.64 oz Permethrin per gallon of water .

  49. What method do you use to treat gear (tents, hammocks, packs, etc.)?

  50. Can it be safely used on kids? The chemical on the clothes will have direct contact to skin. Hopefully nothing will be breathed in after the clothes are treated. Any insights?

    • No. It’s intended for use on clothing, not kids.

    • Everything I’ve read so far indicates that after drying it will be safe, even for kids. I’m not a doctor, so this isn’t medical advice, but as another commenter says, it’s basically a dye, and won’t leach out any more than the dye will leach out of your t-shirt. I don’t know if that’s scientifically true, but it seems to describe how permethrin is said to work by all of the sources I’ve checked so far. That said, I have seen a variety of people question whether specific formulations used to apply permethrin are safe for skin contact, especially the ones that weren’t designed with human skin in mind.

      Overwhelmingly, every warning and caution I’ve seen has been about the wet form, or about residues or leftovers after it dries. Even the stuff that is specifically sold for use on clothes. You’re not just spraying your clothes with liquid permethrin, the liquid is a chemical that is used to help the permethrin bond with the cloth fibers or whatever else it’s being sprayed on. It’s quite reasonable to say that fluids that weren’t intended to be sprayed on people might have harsher chemicals in them that would cause skin irritation, etc, or even have eventual long-term health consequences.

      It can’t be THAT bad if they’re spraying it around homes (the typical use for those highly concentrated forms of permethrin) but there’s a difference between spraying something on your baseboards and staying away from it until it dries, versus spraying it on your skin, or spraying on something that will be touching your skin for prolonged periods of time.

      Most of the time when people say “solvent”, they mean something along the lines of acetone. I’ve had acetone on my skin (hands) dozens of times. I stop doing what I was doing to rush to clean it off… but that doesn’t mean I waited until I got home that night to clean it off.

      • To correct an editing error, above:

        I’ve had acetone on my skin (hands) dozens of times. THAT DOESN’T MEAN I stop doing what I was doing to rush to clean it off… but that doesn’t mean I waited until I got home that night to clean it off.

  51. There is a lot of mis-information in this discussion.
    1) Permethrin acts as a dye. As such, it will reduce in concentration as it is bonded to the fabric in question. You cannot use any excess at .5% in a baggie on another garment after 4-24 hours. The water is only a vehicle for carrying the permethrin, it stays, but the concentration will reduce as permethrin bonds to the substrate. .15% is approximate for nylon pants, .05% would be more typical for a cotton T-shirt.
    2) The best way to dispose of permethrin solutions is to spray it on your hiking cloths. IFF you have excess, you can spray the foundation of your house or, on your concrete floor in the cellar. You CAN pour it onto the hot pavement in bright sunlight. UV will break down permethrin.
    3) Using a 1% solution on your hiking cloths will insure they are treated to 20-50 washings. A re-dip of .5% will be needed after 5-6 washings. Do it stronger and it will last longer. Many things effect the dye time: Heat, Pressure, Type of cloth, Concentration, Type of vehicle.
    4) It does not leech out of clothing and well dyed items anymore than the color on a cotton T-shirt does. It is safe to use crossing streams once it is bonded to your cloths.
    5) KEEP it away from Cats, fish, amphibians. It will pass through a sewage treatment plant…do NOT pour it down a drain. Do not spray it wet on your skin. Again, dyed clothing is OK.

    4) It is not a repellent. But, mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects will loose interest after about 30secs. They have a rudimentary survival instinct. Voracious mosquitoes/deerflies, it will NOT stop…think of it as revenge.

    • I most interested in Permethrin’s properties for bed bugs. Going on the Camino Portuguese in Sept/Oct and using light wt sleeping bags/liners with our own pillowcases. Soaking sounds the most effective way to treat but what about a back pack? When on the camino I hand washed by sports t-shirts, socks and underwear everyday,(only had 2 changes). Bed bugs are the biggest fear on the Camino. No problem with ticks or mosquitos because we aren’t in the woods.

  52. I am a fool…I used a bucket with about 1 and 1/2 gallon of mixture suggested (.5%). I left the clothes soaking for about an hour and then wrung them out. There was considerable amount of mixture left in the bucket. I began to panic and rinsed them thoroughly with water in a clean bucket twice, wrung them out again and then hung them to dry. I am concerned now that this is way too much solution. Have I ruined my clothes? Anything I can do to reverse this since I used such an excess?

  53. Put 6 ounces in big bag with 2 sets of carharts in the bag is that to much of the product

  54. I have a large warm bright orange hunting jacket as well wool overalls …would you recommend the soak method? I would probably need to make a 5 gal amount to soak this much. Thanks

  55. Do you treat all the clothes you wear, including underware? OR just outside layers?

    Thank you

  56. Quick question: if you look at the packaging on the Martin’s Permethin it appears to be labeled as not to be used on clothing. Is it possible that the formulation is not the same as Sawyers and will not last through washing of the clothes?

  57. I put a few clothes in a plastic bag and poured a gallon of 0.5% Permethrin on it. I immediately hung up the clothes soaking without wringing them out.

    How long will these clothes take to dry in 65 degree weather?

    Is it better to dry clothes out that is soaking with permethrin than to wring them out first?

    If the socks don’t dry is it ok to put them in the dryer or should I take them on my trip wet and keep drying them out for several days?

  58. Can Martin’s 13.3 permethrin be used to kill a lice infestation?

  59. Why not spin the excess soak in a washing machine?

  60. I use a washed out plastic kitty litter container and 2 gallons. I wear long sleeve shirt and kitchen gloves just for the soaking. Once the permethrin is mixed I put as many cloths as I can fit into the container. I use a paint mixing stick to make sure everything is stirred well then I put a clean brick on top to hold everything below the water. I put the lid on it and let it sit over nite to soak.
    I have a spare bedroom well vented that I lay sheets of plastic out on the floor. The next day wearing the kitchen gloves I squeeze out all the liquid from the cloths. I lay all the treated cloths on the plastic to dry for 2-3 days. Don’t let your cats anywhere near the permethrin Its very bad for them. Once dry pack away your cloths. I save 2 spray bottles of the permrthrin each in doubled gallon zip-lock bags that get shipped to me later out on thee trail to “freshen up” the treatment. The remaining permethrin gets used around my house foundation and any place ticks and termites might be. Keep your cats and dogs in doors untill the treatment has dried.
    Out on the trail if there is any on the permethrin left I share it with fellow hikers or leave it labeled at hostel in the hiker box for others to use. Again in the double zip bags.

  61. This is great information, and I have started treating my outdoor clothes with permethrin. However, I have a problem with the quantity when using the soak method. If I use 3 ounces, it doesn’t seem to be enough to soak the entire garment, even something small like a pair of socks. Some of the fabric gets wet, but some of it is still dry, and therefore untreated. This is true no matter how much I squeeze or massage it, or leave it to soak for several hours. It seems like I need to use at least 6-8 ounces to get full saturation, and sometimes more, especially with a larger garment.

    Have you run into this, or are you really able to saturate a garment with 3 ounces?

    • The quantity you use doesn’t matter as long as it’s diluted to the correct percentage. Go ahead and use more.

    • Greg, there is a limit to how much is needed to absorb into your cloths. But, it must all be saturated. Also, a brief surface spray will only do the outside layers of wool and other thicker fabrics. As it is absorbed, there is less Permethrin to be absorbed and it may not be enough to fully protect your cloths & you. But, I too have run into some woolen cloths that just absorb a LOT of water/chemical. Like cotton, wool also absorbs a relatively high percentage of water into the material. This has the effect of treating wool more heavily than nylon, for example. So, I often do a dip with my nylon pants & shirt, then switch to my wool clothing adding some extra water if needed to totally distribute the Permethrin. So, as the bath becomes depleted by a 15minute soaking with the nylon/poly clothing, then diluted by plain water, I am guessing the actual concentration with the wool bath for socks and sweaters is down to about .2 or .3%. This is fine because it soaks about 100% more solution into the actual fabric. Note that when this is done I dilute it again with plain water and saturate my entire sleeping bag. It is likely down to a <.1% solution but down absorbs water like crazy. Soo, again, it gets up to the same percentage after drying by hanging.

      The other thing is, you do not need to do your socks & underwear. Generally, your socks will be covered by any Permethrin on your pants or your shoes. I never got a tick on my feet in over 40 years of hiking, but, I DO treat my sleeping socks (longer, knee-length wool socks.) Doing your wool sweater is kind'a begging the question "Why?" It will be much cooler by the time you need to wear it. Most bugs will be "sleeping." But, some times in wet weather, I will wear my sweater under my rain jacket or without a rain jacket in drizzly conditions. I get wet anyway, I just don't want cold raindrops on my shoulders and arms. Soo, this sort'a adds to my comfort with a buggy situation. Is it necessary? No. Only your main hiking cloths and bedding. Permethrin can, rarely, cause problems with sweaty areas. I don't risk any problems with my feet. Bags/quilts cover your bedding against all sorts of bugs:, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, bedbugs, etc. I never do underwear either.

  62. Can I waterproof my boots and running shoes after treating them with permethrin? Or will the scotchgard eliminate/reduce permethrin’s effectiveness?

  63. I picked up my martin’s permethrin last weekend. I’m going to soak them this weekend.

    Has anyone used cattle tags treated w/ pesticide clipped to their backpack as an added deterrent?


  64. FWIW – I’ve tried both spraying and soaking and think spraying is generally more effective. With spraying I can see where I’m hitting and not hitting the fabric with the spray. I can also be more certain of reaching the inside of the clothing by turning it inside out and spraying again.
    Except for some small items, it seemed as if the liquid was not soaking uniformly into the clothing when placed in the bag. The part of the clothing the touched the liquid first soaked in but then it was difficult to get the liquid to distribute equally throughout the bag and into the clothing. I ended up pouring more liquid into the bag just to be sure.
    I do have a large well ventilated and lit garage where I can hang up multiple pieces of clothing while spraying and drying overnight, so this is an advantage that all may not have.
    Finally, I’m using a spray bottle (Zep) with the diluted solution I’ve mixed up in a gallon container, as per instruction above, not a pre-diluted solution.

  65. While I was in the Army we always stressed having our uniforms Permethrin treated and our bodies treated with DEET. One time about 30 of our soldiers went on a land navigation field exercise in a highly tick-infested area. Some soldiers did as they were told and used both Permethrin treated uniforms and DEET. Others either used only DEET or Permethrin. What we found is that only those whose uniforms were treated with Permethrin and whose bodies were treated with DEET were tick-free. Others had as few as one tick and as many as 32 ticks during mandatory nightly tick checks. The moral of this story is to always use Permethrin-treated clothing and DEET when going into tick-infested areas.

    By the way, the permethrin treatment the Army used was supposed to be good for the duration that the uniforms were in serviceable condition.

    • The Army method uses 0.78% permethrin soak treatment and is meant to be good for the life of the garment (50 washes).

      It’s 9ml of 40% permethrin solution (3.6ml permethrin) mixed with 450ml of water. Put clothing article in permethrin/water mix, shake, and let stand for 3 hours (changed from 2.5 hours to 3 hours in rev D)

      See MIL-DTL-44410 (http://everyspec.com/MIL-SPECS/MIL-SPECS-MIL-DTL/MIL-DTL-44410C_42310//) for more information.

      • Permethrin of approximately 38% is widely available online. To mix into the strength on the spec, the ratio would be about 1:48, one unit of permethrin mix for 48 units of water.

        Jeremy gives the metric amount per garment above. For those living in Burma, Liberia, and the USA, it’s about 1/3 oz. per pint for each garment.

        If my above figures are wrong… sometimes it’s hard to believe I was a math major!

        I did have to type 44410C into the search box that was brought up on Jeremy’s link in order to get to the actual document cited on the military soak method.

      • Yeah, my link has an extraneous slash at the end!

        http://everyspec.com/MIL-SPECS/MIL-SPECS-MIL-DTL/MIL-DTL-44410C_42310/ should work.

  66. Ok so I followed the instructions but used a large
    ziploc vacuum sealed bag some of the clothes have crystals and feel waxy. Is this normal?

  67. well, i chose distilled water because i read above that hard water doesn’t work. so maybe it only works with municipal water. one thing i did different- i poured 6.4 oz of product into an empty gallon jug and then topped off with distilled water; maybe that was what I did wrong?

  68. Boots: soak or spray?

    I have non-leather (ballistic mesh and webbing uppers, rubber sole) boots, and I’m wondering whether I can soak ’em in a bag or if I should only spray them.

    I’ll be soaking my pants and socks.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  69. Wow… this is all very interesting. Thinking of Permethrin like a dye does change how I think about this. I used to dye clothing and recall (hopefully correctly!) that it’s actually the number of *molecules* of dye rather than the concentration. Once the binding sites in the fabric are saturated, additional dye will just rinse out. And twice the volume of dye at 1/2 the concentration contains the name number of molecules of dye which should, theoretically, find the sites with which to bind in the fabric. Sorry to be such a geek about this, but I see why people buy the permeated clothing ready-to-wear!! It’s more complicated than most people think, which wouldn’t make any difference if this wasn’t a potentially harmful situation — harmful if over, or UNDER used!

  70. How do you know that the Martin’s lasts as long as long as the Sawyers? I’m curious about the water vs. petroleum and binders vs. no binders issues. I have the 10% solution so I’m not trying to nay say, just curious if you have somehow tested.

  71. Is one oz of permethrin with 20 oz of water safe for spraying cloths ?

  72. If you soak your clothes in a bucket is it sufficient enough to wash the bucket out afterwards and dry it completely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *