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Tick Repellent Clothing: What Is It & Does It Work?

Recently a member of the Breda Pest Management team took advantage of his day off. He used it to treat his yard for ticks. Yep—we love our jobs SO much that we even battle pests on our vacations! Halfway through the job, a neighbor walked over to ask what our team member was doing. When the neighbor found out, he eyed our pro's outfit (cotton pants and casual shirt) and asked, "Are those clothes tick repellent?"

"Well," the pro said, embarrassed to admit to it. "Not exactly." Even experts forget to use adequate protection while fighting against pests sometimes.

That said, it's important to remember that if you're going to be exposed to a tick-heavy area—you should be wearing some type of tick repellent clothes. They're an easy and effective way to lower your chance of infection.

What infection, you may ask? According to the CDC, over 35,000 cases of tick-related Lyme disease are reported each year. Lyme disease is an unpleasant condition that causes headaches, joint and muscle aches, and fatigue—and is a disease for which there is no cure.

Ticks can also transmit diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, and Q fever. Yet, avoiding these pests can be as simple as wearing treated clothing. Studies such as this one conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine have shown that when workers in tick-infested areas wear clothes treated with Permethrin, the number of tick bites they suffer from can drop by over 80%.

What's Permethrin?

Permethrin was introduced in the 1970s, and rolled out for military use in 1990. If you have any hesitation about wearing clothes that have been treated with chemicals, rest assured that Permethrin is considered safe. It's even included on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.

If you have a severe mosquito or tick problem on your property— consult a pro. If you want to protect yourself and your family when out in the woods or on a hike—tick repellent clothes are a great option. Pre-treated clothing is widely available. Permethrin can even be used to treat food and feed crops, livestock, pets, and buildings. Permethrin can even be purchased over-the-counter (meaning you can treat your own clothes). Some retailers also offer mail-in services. Simply send in your regular clothes, and they'll be treated and returned to you. Pre-treated clothes do carry a higher cost, but professionally infused Permethrin clothing should last through 70 washes. Home applications are less expensive, but wear out faster.

If you're on a budget, invest in the most critical spots first— which in this case means you should literally work from the ground up. Ticks don't fly, and they have minimal jumping range. They get to you by latching onto your shoes, then crawling up to exposed skin. The most important clothing items to have treated are your shoes, then socks, and pants. Treated shirts and hats are nice to have, but are not as critical.