Buzz Off! Insect Repellent Clothing

Ah, summer. The best time of year to feed your local mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, horseflies, and other blood sucking insects with your hard earned blood.

I remember one of my first dates with my wife: we played miniature golf near Narragansett Beach, RI. It was a hot, humid summer night and although I remembered my cologne, I forgot the insect repellent.

By the 5th hole, we were so bitten and itchy that we had to call the match and ran back to the car to escape the onslaught of mosquitoes.

In addition to ruining your best ever round of miniature golf, many biting insects can actually make you sick. For example, mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Malaria. Ticks can carry Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Now there is a way to fight off mosquitoes and other bugs without having to douse yourself in sticky bug repellent (which always clash with your best cologne). A company in North Carolina called Buzz Off has developed a way to infuse clothing with permethrin, a natural insect repellent made from chrysanthemum flowers. The technology, called insect shield, allows permethrin to be tightly bound to fibers of fabric. When insects come in contact with permethrin, they’re paralyzed.

Permethrin is odorless and stays in the clothing, so it does not get on your skin. It’s better than DEET, a popular and effective insect repellent, because DEET can damage clothing (such as spandex and rayon) and can dissolve certain plastics and vinyl (not so good for car seats). Also, although safe at low concentrations, DEET can be toxic to humans, especially small children.

Permethrin, in contrast, is safe. And, according to the company, permethrin retains its potency in the garments for up to 70 washes, which is the expected lifespan of most articles of clothing. They offer many types of clothing including t-shirts, long sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and hiking socks. For a reasonable fee, you can also send the company your own clothing to be treated with insect shield.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:

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Photo credit: Aussiegall

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in Buzz Off nor have I received any promotions or requests to write about them on this site.

13 thoughts on “Buzz Off! Insect Repellent Clothing

  1. My understanding is that DEET does nothing to the mosquito until it comes in contact with it, irritating its feet. Would this chemical not work in the same manner? That would mean that the bug would have to come into contact with the clothing, which if it landed on you unclothed arm, it wouldn’t, making this kind of useless?

  2. Natural insect repellents work very well and don’t have any potentially toxic effects on the body. For example mixing vitamins B1 and B3 and citronella (essential oil) in water will make a very effective insect repellent – we’ve used it in the tropical rainforest of north Queensland (Australia) with great results.

  3. I am starting to read/visit your blog regularly, it is the kind of blog that I need, because I always have a skin problem. Anyway, we are going to Bali in August and glad that you’ve posted an article about mosquitoes. I might have to buy “Buzz Off” from the pharmacy here in the U.S!
    Thanks again for the article!

  4. Fascinating, I’ll definitely look into it if I ever venture out into the great outdoors again. The insects love me, and I could see that decreasing the need for Off! which would be really pleasant.

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  6. This uses Permethrin which is NOT a natural repellent. It is synthetic which is why it lasts a long time. It works by intoxicating the attacking blood feeding insects. and its is pretty non-toxic to people in clothj. The US Army has been using this system for 25 years.

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