Update 2022: Recently did an update to this post that can be found here: Three Easy Ways To Deal With Ticks.
I hate ticks. They are without a doubt the biggest annoyance and detractor to enjoying the outdoors during the warmer months. For years I looked for the best deer tick repellent. Just a few years ago I began using Permethrin.
In this post I want to talk about how I treat my clothes with Permethrin, and why I have found it to be the best tick control method. Is it really the best tick repellent out there? You’ll have to decide that on your own and if you want to give it a try.
It works on a wide variety of annoying insects, not just deer ticks. It’s effective against all ticks, chiggers, mites, scabies, lice, mosquitoes, black flies, house flies, gnats…etc… etc… You get the idea!
Best Deer Tick Repellent!
Permethrin is an insecticide that kills ticks and mosquitoes dead. And I do mean dead. If they land on you or crawl on you when you have your gear and clothes treated with this stuff they die fast. They don’t just fly away or jump off… they die. DIE!
You’re probably thinking to yourself that Permethrin sounds pretty awesome. But you may also be thinking “is Permethrin safe to use?“. It is safe to use, let me assure of you that, as long as you aren’t a cat. Yep, there are side affects that can affect cats. So if you own cats and plan to use Permethrin you need to pay close attention on how you use it.
I use it on my clothes, my tents, my hammocks, my packs, and my tarps. It works great. Better than great. In my opinion it is the best deer tick repellent to help you fight against contracting lymes disease.
What Is Permethrin?
Let’s take a closer look at Permethrin. You can learn a lot about it on this fact sheet, but I’ll be going over a few interesting tidbits here:
- Permethrin treated clothes can last as long as six weeks (six washing cycles) before they need to be retreated.
- It’s odorless after drying.
- Permethrin is effective against the Yellow Fever Mosquito, which can transmit the Zika Virus.
- It’s effective against ticks, chiggers, mites, mosquitoes and more; as effective as 100% DEET.
- There are over 1400 registered products that use Permethrin. Some include cow ear tags, tick repellent treatment for dogs (not cats!), and scabies/lice treatment for humans, to name a few.
- When insects like mosquitoes and ticks eat or just touch anything with Permethrin, their nervous system is attacked causing spasms, paralysis, and death. Take that ticks!
- Permethrin is dangerous to cats. Smartly avoid using it if you have cats.
For more information and facts on Permethrin check out the fact sheet link above.
Ways To Apply Permethrin To Your Clothes & Camp Gear
There are two primary ways to apply Permethrin to your clothes and camping gear. You can either use a spray on method or a soaking method. The spray on method comes pre-mixed and ready to be applied to your clothes and gear. The soaking method requires you to dilute a concentrated form of Permethrin and then soak your clothes in it before hanging to dry.
I’ll provide more details on both methods of use below. I’ve used both methods over the past few years, but mostly use the spray on method because it takes less time to apply.
***Always read the application instruction when using Permethrin to treat any clothes or camping gear!***
Permethrin Soaking Method
You can buy Permethrin in higher concentrated forms from a couple different suppliers online and usually at outdoor stores. However, before you use it to treat your clothes and other camping gear you need to dilute it down using water to around a 0.50% solution.
How much water you need to dilute versus the amount of Permethrin depends on the concentrated value of the Permethrin you purchase. In the picture link to the right you can buy a quart of Permethrin off Amazon with a concentration of 36.8%. That is to strong of a mixture to treat your clothes!
Once you have your concentrated Permethrin you need to cut it down so you can soak your clothes. Here are a few formulas for diluting it down:
- 12.5 oz of water, add one teaspoon of 36.8% concentrated Permethrin for a 0.50% solution.
- 37.5 oz of water, add one tablespoon of 36.8% concentrated Permethrin for a 0.50% solution.
- 1 gallon of water, add 1.75 oz of 36.8% concentrated Permethrin for a 0.50% solution.
How much should you mix? It depends on how much you need. If you are soaking your clothes you will likely need a gallon to handle a few outfits or more.
Just pour your 0.50% diluted Permethrin mixture into a large bucket or dish washing tub and soak your clothes in it. You should do this in a ventilated area, such as a garage or outside, and use some latex gloves when handling your treated clothes (wringing them out, hanging them to dry).
Permethrin Spray On Method – The Method I Use Most
You can also buy Permethrin already diluted and in spray bottles for easy application to clothes and camping gear. This is how I usually buy Permethrin and apply it to my clothes. You can also buy it like I mentioned above and make your own diluted mixture and spray it on – do whatever works best for you.
The 12 oz spray bottle link to the right is easy to apply. Just go to a well ventilated location, such as a garage or outside porch/deck, hang your clothes, and spray them with the Permethrin. Dampen them good! One 12 oz bottle should be enough to treat 2-3 complete sets of outdoor clothes. Then just let your clothes air dry.
I use this method the most because it’s so easy. No need to dilute anything and wear latex gloves or wring out your clothes.
In regards to cost effectiveness: buying the concentrated formula and diluting it down for either soaking or use in your own spray bottle is going to be more cost effective than buying it premixed. It will go a lot further if you mix your own.
Best Deer Tick Repellent – Conclusion
It’s the end of April as I write this and just last weekend we had a foot of fresh snow drop in my part of Wisconsin. But the temps have been warm and most of that snow has already melted. I was out yesterday in my yard with my dog and pulled a tick off of him.
I fear ticks could be bad this year, and I wasted no time ordering a couple spray bottles of pre-mixed Permethrin off Amazon. Next month in May I head up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness for a solo canoe camping vacation. You can be assured I will be treating all my camp clothes with Permethrin before that trip.
I’ll also likely setup my tent and hammock prior to that trip and spray them down as well. I hate ticks! They can really take the fun and enjoyment out of the summer months. The last thing I want is lymes disease.
You can buy pre-mixed Permethrin ready to spray onto your clothes by clicking here.
Permethrin kills ticks and other annoying insects dead! It is the best deer tick repellent for us humans.
8 thoughts on “Best Deer Tick Repellent – Permethrin Tick Control”
I live near the sea, and in the summer, we have plenty of mosquitoes and ticks. I used to put a spray on my skin, but the smell of it killed me:) The Permethrin seems to be very useful. I really would like to try it. Just a question, please. How long will it be effective from the moment I spray my clothes and other stuff? Does it smell bad?
Thank you for this excellent post!
Permethrin will last a long time on your clothes once you treat them. Sawyer, the manufacturer that makes the Permtherin I treat my clothes with, says that it will last on your clothes for up to 6 weeks and 6 washes.
From my personal experience I would say they are pretty close to that claim. I love the stuff, it works great. I am not a fan of using DEET, as it stinks and is oily. Permethrin has a faint smell only when you are applying it to your clothes. Once it dries you can’t smell it.
Thanks for reading-
I’ve never had any issues with ticks surprisingly. I live in Florida, near a lot of freshwater and the only annoyance I have ever dealt with are mosquitoes, the absolute worse organism on the planet. I’d much rather get the already diluted solution, seems a lot easier. But sadly, I have a cat and a dog so sadly I won’t be able to look into this. I wouldn’t want my pets dying on me.
I hear ya. While Permethrin does not have adverse affects on dogs, it can be lethal to cats. I soak or spray a hankie in Permethrin and my dog wears it. Helps him a lot with the mosquitoes and ticks.
Permethrin looks like a great product – easy to use and effective.
You say cats may have a negative reaction. What sort of symptoms would you look for?
I live in the Philippines and have encountered beaches that are pretty much off limits due to sand fleas. Looking at the broad range of critters this works against I would assume it would also work with sand fleas. Do you happen to know about that?
Thanks a lot for your very informative post.
Sadly Permethrin is lethal to cats. So if you own any feline pets I wouldn’t use Permethrin around them – they will get sick and die.
Thank You for the great work. Very informative. Ticks hate me, and I look forward to killing Every one of them.
Do You spray your hammock? Do You spray the big rainfly with it? Do you spray your mosquito netting? What about vinyl long rain pants? Do you spray your hat? Does it work on big boots, like Zamberlans, or just soak in and dissapear? Have you ever sprayed Darn Tuffs with it, and then wore the socks for more than one day?
Thanks again for all your advice and insights.
Yep, I spray all my clothes with the exception of the underwear! I also will spray the outside of my tent, hammock, camp chair… I give everything a treatment before any major outdoor trip. It does not take long to do, and since I know Permethrin works, I am more than happy to take the time to do it.
Spraying works great on kit/gear. Soaking works best on clothes.