How Does Insect Repellent Clothing Work?

How Does Insect Repellent Clothing Work?

Insect repellent clothing offers an ideal alternative to bug spray, with Insect Shield® technology that’s safe, effective, odorless, and lasts for the lifetime of the garment. If you’re a hunter, fisher, hiker, or just an outdoor enthusiast, you know how bothersome insects like mosquitoes can be. You’re also likely familiar with applying strong-smelling, sticky bug repellent over and over to get them to leave you alone. Insect repellent clothing is a more convenient option for outdoor activities.   

Read on to learn how insect repellent clothing works and where you can find it.

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What Is Insect Repellent Clothing?

Insect-repellent clothing is clothing treated with a chemical to repel insects like mosquitoes and ticks. It’s ideal for hunting, fishing, hiking, and really any outdoor activities. You don’t have to worry about reapplying bug spray or dealing with sticky residue. Insect-repellent clothing can be hats, neck gaiters, shirts, pants, and other garments offering full-body protection.

Insect Shield® is an EPA-registered process to apply insect repellent to clothing. It was first used for military uniforms, but now it can be found in recreational clothing like hunting and fishing gear.

man fishing wearing insect repellent clothing

How Insect Shield® Clothing Works

Insect Shield® clothing is a safe, durable way to bond an insect repellent called permethrin to fabric. During the process, permethrin is tightly bonded to fabric fibers, resulting in effective, odorless insect protection that lasts the lifetime of the garment.

Insect Shield® has been proven effective by “knockdown testing,” which is a widely accepted scientific method for determining the efficacy of insect-repellent-treated textiles.

During the test, a repellent-treated fabric is placed in an enclosed space containing insects for a specified time until removed, then the insects’ reactions are documented. Testing shows that Insect Shield® treated fabric is 80 to 96 percent effective against mosquitoes and 95 to 100 percent effective against ticks. It also repels flies, sandflies, ants, chiggers, midges, and fleas.

What Is Permethrin Treated Clothing?

Permethrin-treated clothing is clothing whose fibers have been treated with a chemical called permethrin, which repels insects. Permethrin is one of the most widely used agricultural chemicals in the world. It’s classified as a pesticide rather than a repellent, which means it kills mosquitoes and ticks through exposure.

Repellants like DEET found in bug sprays simply ward off bugs. Permethrin was first registered with the EPA in 1979 and works by interrupting the neural pathways of pests like mosquitoes and ticks.

Permethrin-treated clothing won’t deter pests from landing on you like DEET, but the bugs will fly away or fall off when they make contact—and they won’t come back to bite you.

According to the EPA, permethrin-treated clothing is considered safe. It’s rated Category IV, which is considered “most favorable” or the highest safety level awarded. To receive this rating, Insect Shield® permethrin technology was tested to confirm no adverse effects on people, animals, or the environment. Additionally, your body will not absorb permethrin from treated clothing.

woman hunting wearing insect repellent clothing

How Long Does Insect Repellent Clothing Last?

Insect Shield® permethrin-treated clothing lasts 70 washes, which is the expected lifetime of the garment. Check your garment label for more specific information about how long it should last. The longevity of insect-repellent clothing is also linked to the fabric type; more synthetic fabrics like nylon, rayon, or spandex maintain the effectiveness of permethrin longer than cotton.

How To Care for Insect Shield® Clothing

If your insect-repellent clothing can be washed, it can be laundered the same way as any other clothing. Insect Shield® clothing can be bleached, starched, and pressed, but it should not be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning removes some of the active ingredients from the clothing, which reduces the insect-repellent quality.

However, if you use your insect-repellent clothing for hunting, you’ll need to know how to wash hunting clothes, too. If your clothing is camouflaged, you don’t want to use chlorine bleach; otherwise, it’ll reduce its camouflaging properties. Hunting clothes can also offer odor control to keep you undetectable, so you shouldn’t use detergents with added perfumes.

One other thing to look out for is UV brighteners. They’re designed to make whites whiter and colors brighter, but since many game species can see UV light, they’ll make you glow instead of blending into your surroundings.

To make caring for all your outdoor gear more simple, just wash them all with a detergent free of added perfumes and brighteners—and don’t dry clean it.

Insect Shield shirt

The Best Insect Repellent Clothing

The best Insect Shield® clothing does more than just repel insects. FORLOH offers award-winning technical gear that repels insects, controls odor, provides sun protection, and keeps you comfortable and dry for hours on end.

These products would make excellent additions to your hunting layering system, fishing apparel, or hiking gear:

  • Insect Shield® SolAir Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt: This breathable, hyper-moisture-wicking base layer protects from insects, the sun, and odor. The 50+ UPF rating provides ultimate protection from prolonged sun exposure, and the brrr® Pro cooling technology keeps you up to 3.5 degrees cooler. FORLOH’s Polygiene® Stay Fresh antimicrobial and Odor Crunch® scent control technologies keep you fresh and undetectable.
  • Insect Shield® SolAir Lightweight Pants: These pants offer all the same benefits as the Insect Shield® shirt, making them the perfect pants for warm weather activities.
FORLOH’s early-season hunting clothes are the ultimate gear for your warm-weather adventures.