It was mid-July of 2020 and the beginning of New York State’s bow season no longer felt like it was far away. It was time for me to get serious about deer scouting on some new pieces of public land in the New York City Watershed. Knowing that I would be walking, crawling, and let’s be honest, falling into some thick vegetation, I also wanted to get more serious about protecting myself from ticks and tick-borne illnesses.
Permethrin is an insect repellent and insecticide that you can apply to your clothing and other items. It kills ticks, mosquitos, and a host of other insects. Never having used it before, I was a bit nervous about the harm that it could do to me. However, I was confident in my ability to read the product safety information and follow the instructions. The purpose of this blog is to document how I treated my outdoor wear with permethrin.
Firstly, the product that I was using was a 24-oz. spray bottle of Sawyer permethrin insect repellent, which costs 16-20 USD. I selected outer wear that I typically wear for deer scouting, including long pants, tall socks, and a lightweight breathable shirt. Notice that I did not select underwear or hats for treatment as per the safety label. Here are the steps that I followed:
Step 1: I put on some disposable gloves and a mask to prevent skin contact and inhalation of permethrin
Step 2: I took my clothing outside
I used about a quarter of the bottle to treat the clothes seen here – three pairs of pants, one shirt, and two pairs of socks.
Step 3: I laid out and sprayed my clothes on the lawn
I held the spray bottle eight inches from the clothing and sprayed in a slow, sweeping motion. I applied just enough to moisten the outside of the garments. I sprayed the pants from the knees down, the mid-section of the shirt, and the ankle part of the socks. Then I flipped the clothes and repeated the process.
Step 4: I hung my clothes to dry for about 4 hours
Hanging the clothes to dry.
Pretty simple. Even though I was wearing a mask and gloves, the first thing I did when I came back in the house was wash my hands and face with soap. After my clothes had sufficiently dried, I placed them in a dark plastic bag and stored them in a tote. I treated three pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, and a shirt using approximately one-quarter of the 24-oz. bottle.
These clothes should be good to go for 42 days, including several machine washes. Note that I am not bulletproof just because I’ve got permethrin-treated clothing. I still plan to tuck my pantlegs into my socks in the field and check myself over as soon as I get home.
Tucking your pantlegs into your socks is not only on-trend, it’s a simple step you can take to reduce the likelihood of a tick bite. Also, wearing light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.
I hope this blog demonstrates that treating your clothes with permethrin is fairly simple. If you’d like to learn more about preventing ticks and tick-borne illnesses, check out MyWoodlot.com. Also, you might enjoy a video from The Hunting Public, where they demonstrate that ticks don’t last very long when they encounter permethrin treated clothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FieMOtvqwNc