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Why You Should Spray Your Shoes With Permethrin This Summer

Spraying permethrin on your shoes, clothes, and camping gear will repel ticks and doesn't wash off.

If you’re grossed out by the idea that you might be bitten by a tick this summer (chances are good, to be honest), now is the time to get yourself a bottle of permethrin spray. Permethrin-treating your shoes is one of the simplest ways to set up a barrier between hungry ticks and your delicious, blood-filled flesh.

Ticks need to spend time in dirt or leaf litter to avoid drying out, so they hang out close to the ground. They find us by climbing a stalk of grass and reaching out with their little legs when we walk by. (They do the same for deer, rabbits, and other creatures they consider tasty.) Once they find a warm body, they crawl upwards.

What this means for you: If you want to avoid tick bites, the most important places to protect yourself are roughly from the knees down. You probably only have one or two pairs of shoes that you tend to wear in tall grass (hiking boots, sneakers, maybe work boots), so applying a long-lasting layer of permethrin to your shoes will go a long way toward protecting you all summer.

You can add to that protection by using permethrin on your socks, pants, and other clothing and gear—like tents and backpacks, if you go camping. Bug spray for your skin (containing an effective active ingredient like DEET) is a separate item, but it’s a good defense, too. Bonus: permethrin and DEET also protect against mosquitoes.

Learn more about Permethrin written by Beth Skwarecki here.


October 22, 2023

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that for protection that lasts hours, people should look for ones with these active ingredients: DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.