Greener Solutions 2016: Mosquito repellent clothing with Patagonia

The challenge for the Patagonia team was to develop a non-toxic, environmentally benign method for a fabric, clothing or a clothing treatment to prevent the biting of the wearer by mosquitoes. The baseline condition that the team investigated was the common industry treatment of polyester with permethrin. Permethrin, although ultimately plant-based, is an insecticide used as a repellant and is toxic to insects and aquatic life when released in the environment. It was expected that all innovative solutions to the challenge would be explored, including chemical, mechanical, and biological.

The Berkeley team determined that CO2 blocking was the most effective strategy, but a key challenge the team faced in examining textile treatments was the contradictory need for a coating that was both volatile and long lasting. One of the more promising options was to use a permanent cyclodextrin treatment on the garment, and provide a complementary repellent spray, which the customer could use regularly to refresh the garment’s repellency.  Other options included a detergent to refresh repellency, and other textile binding options such as nanoemulsion. The team also delved into some additional clothing scale strategies.