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Reviews > Health & Safety > Insect Repellents > Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Repellent > Owner Review by Nancy Griffith

March 11, 2010


NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.


In package
Image courtesy of Sawyer website

Manufacturer: Sawyer Products, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: Not available
Listed Volume: 24 fl oz (710 ml)

Other details from the Sawyer website:

'Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Military, government agencies, universities, and others; this Sawyer® Clothing repellent offers superior protection from disease-carrying biting insects. The active ingredient, Permethrin, is a synthetic molecule similar to those found in natural pyrethrum which is taken from the Chrysanthemum flower. Not only does this product repel insect, but will actually kill ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, mites and more than 55 other kinds of insects. Sawyer® Permethrin insect repellents are for use with clothing, tents, and other gear. A single application lasts 6 washings. Permethrin is odorless when dry, and during the drying process, it tightly bonds with the fibers of the treated garment. It will not stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or any of your outdoor gear.'


The 24 ounce (710 ml) spray bottle of Sawyer Premium Clothing Insect Repellent claims to be enough for 4 outfits. An outfit includes one shirt, one pair of pants and one pair of socks. I hung the following clothing outside on a clothes line: one pair of men's pants, one men's long-sleeved shirt, one men's short-sleeved shirt, two pair of men's crew socks, one pair of women's pants, one long-sleeved women's shirt and two pairs of women's crew socks.

I wore a face mask and disposable latex gloves to avoid any harmful effects. Most of the fabrics quickly absorbed the spray, but my pants did not. They must have some water repellent coating on the fabric. So, some of the spray just rolled off. It did seem to absorb somewhat though. The sprayer was easy to use. Even after spraying all of the above-mentioned clothing, my hand wasn't tired. The bottle seemed to be just over halfway empty after finishing which is consistent with the advertised 4 outfits since I sprayed a bit more than 2 outfits.

After two hours, the socks were not completely dry, so I moved all of the clothing into the garage to finish drying overnight. None of the fabrics were permanently changed by the spray. There was no discoloration, staining or other negative effect.

My first 6 uses consisted of the following trips. I machine washed the clothing between trips.
La Verkin Creek Trail, Zion National Park (Utah): 3 days; 20 mi (32 km); 5,413 to 6,070 ft (1,650 to 1,850 m); 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C); red sandy soil, multiple stream crossings; light mosquito activity

Hunters Trail, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 20 mi (32 km); 3,500 to 5,000 ft (1,067 to 1,524 m); 48 to 70 F (9 to 21 C); light mosquito activity

Pacific Crest Trail, Sierra Nevada (California): 4 days; 29 mi (47 km); 7,820 to 9,000 ft (2,384 to 2,743 m); 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C); heavy mosquito activity

Pacific Crest/Tahoe Rim Trail, Northern Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 7,390 to 9,010 ft (2,252 to 2,746 m); 50 to 85 F (10 to 29 C); moderate mosquito activity

Boat Camping:
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 6,200 ft (1,890 m); 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C); heavy mosquito activity

Car Camping/Fishing:
Caples Lake, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 7,805 ft (2,379 m); moderate mosquito activity at dusk

The product claims to not just repel but to also kill biting insects. I watched mosquitoes land on and walk all over my treated clothing with no apparent affect to their health. It did seem to deter them from biting though. I am one of those people who seem to attract mosquitoes and get many more and worse bites than my friends in the same situation. While I can't say that I didn't get ANY bites while wearing clothing treated with the spray, I did get noticeably less than what I would have expected.

Some clothing has a tighter weave (my hiking pants and fishing shirt) as compared to synthetic shirts with a looser t-shirt type knit. I have always found these tighter weaves of clothing to be less frequently penetrated by mosquito bites. However, I did also get less mosquito bites on my feet (through my socks) than what I would have expected without using the spray.

The areas I visited do have tick and chigger populations, but they are somewhat infrequent occurrences. So, I could not determine whether the spray had any effect or not. It was not effective against gnats.

I did not notice the effectiveness of the spray diminishing over multiple washings. But by the time I had washed the items 6 times or so, the heavy mosquito season was largely over. I would say that the advertising of a single application lasting 6 washings is pretty accurate.


The spray seemed to provide a noticeable level of protection against mosquito bites. It is easy to use except for the need to wear protective gear to prevent breathing the vapors or touching the spray.


Repelling mosquitoes
Easy to use


Does not resist gnats
Vapors are not to be breathed


Nancy Griffith

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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