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Bedbug repellent sprays?

Nomadita

🌟🐚
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi all,

I suffered with bedbugs twice last month for the first time in Europe (in Spain on the Camino Frances and then in Poland only 1 week after finishing!), and the experiences left me a bit traumatised and paranoid. I'm considering doing the camino from Porto so am looking for a spray that I can spray on a sleeping bag and backpack to repel bedbugs. Does anyone know of a website in the EU that sells it? (I'm in Portugal).

Cheers!
 
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nathanael

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Plata,
Hi all,

I suffered with bedbugs twice last month for the first time in Europe (in Spain on the Camino Frances and then in Poland only 1 week after finishing!), and the experiences left me a bit traumatised and paranoid. I'm considering doing the camino from Porto so am looking for a spray that I can spray on a sleeping bag and backpack to repel bedbugs. Does anyone know of a website in the EU that sells it? (I'm in Portugal).

Cheers!
For most of the Caminos, I have done I have used a product that I purchase in the USA . I am from Canada and it's not allowed here. I buy it at Walmart and it is called Permethrin. I have slept in Albegues where people had bed bugs and it never affected me. But you need to spray your sleeping bag and your backpack good luck.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
There's is nothing that you can spray on your gear that will repel bedbugs. Many people use permethrin, which will kill bedbugs over time. I spray it on my sleeping gear, inside my backpack, and on all my cloth stuff sacks. If any bedbugs get inside my things I want to make sure that they don't come out alive.
You can use a spray with DEET on yourself.

This video shows bedbugs slowly dying on permethrin treated fabric.

 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Every year before I go I spray the outside of my pack and sleeping bag with Permethrin. I use Sawyers and buy it on Amazon. So far, it has protected me, even when people in the bunk below me have been bitten.

Also, when I'm staying in albergues, I purchase a mosquito spray from the Farmacia. When I arrive, I check for bedbugs. If I see no sign, I mist just a pump or two over the bed. If there are bedbugs, they will come to the surface.

For people complaining about spraying something in the room, this is no worse than people's deodorant spray or essential oils or eye-burning cologne. You can't smell it a bed away. I have multiple chemical sensitivities and can smell the UPS man coming a mile away and this doesn't affect me. Try to get a spray that is fragrance free.

I have a blog on spotting bedbugs here:
 
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samoht.w

Member
Past OR future Camino
2013 SJPP to Santiago in September
2014 Camino Aragon GR 11 2015, 16, 17
Del Norte 2018 & 2019
During my first Camino in 2013 I was bitten by bedbugs quite severely. Since then, in 2015, 15, 16, 17, and 19 I have used a silk bag liner which I soaked in a Permethrin solution before my departure from the US. The only time I was bitten after the 2013 experience was when I slept with my right arm out of the silk liner. That was only about four or five bites. Along with Permethrin and a good bag liner there are some precautions I believe help keep you out of bug nesting areas. 1. try to pick a bunk away from walls and corners. 2. Never put your bag or pack on your bunk. 3. If lockers are available be aware that the joints, seams and crannies within may harbor bugs. So inspect thoroughly.

Signs of bedbugs: While they are feeding on your blood, they tend to leave very tiny blood specks and feces dots on the sheets. About the size of a typed period. Check for those on the mattress seams and sheets. Occasionally you may see live bugs. They are tiny, about .5 mm in length and have a slightly bulbous abdomen, grayish in color.

About Permethrin: The US commercial spray intended for human use is .5 % active ingredient (that is point 5 percent). It is possible to purchase much higher percentage solutions intended for veterinary use and to dilute it back down to .5 %, but doing so could be dangerous to your health if you get it wrong.

There is a Permethrin treatment solution titled "Duration Permethrin" It is a 10% Permethrin spray intended for clothing treatment. Before purchasing and using this product I would do some careful investigation of its use and precautions.

Permethrin is NOT an insect repellant! It is an insecticide. It kills insects on contact. Many people are concerned about its long term affects. I don't because I am 81 years old and long term has not much meaning to me anymore. However I would be concerned with its use on young adults and children.

More information: The headlice cream NIX frequently used for children happens to be a 1% (one percent) Permethrin cream applied to the scalps of children.

Permethrin treatment of apparel has a limited life span. I live and work in heavily forested environment with high levels of Lyme disease infected ticks. I soak all my work clothes in a .5 percent Permethrin solution every 30 days due to the fact that they are laundered every two days of so when working in the woods. I'm not sure how long the protection will be effective while on the Camino. I have a sense that the protection waned after about two weeks while I was in the Camino or other trails in Spain (GR 11). I'm not sure how I would remedy that since I don't think Permethrin can be had in Spain.

Many countries have been reported to aggressively treat their militaries "combat clothing" with Permethrin which reportedly lasts for several months.

Tom "Old Hillwalker" Wheeler
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
Correlation does not equal Causation. For every observation by an individual that their method of bedbug prevention works, there are many other individuals who have used the same methods, yet are still bitten. Even in a bedbug infested, fifty bed alburgue with bunks tightly spaced together pre-COVID style, pilgrims sans preventatives will be bitten while others are not. The same will hold true if ALL pilgrims are treated.

Pilgrims who have religiously applied their 'prevention' strategies of Permethrin have been bitten. Permethrin is not a repellent to bedbugs like it is for ticks, but it may kill those who have not yet built a resistance to Permethrin. It takes time after a bedbug makes contact with Permethrin for it to die, so it will still get its blood meal before heading off to croak.

Bedbugs also do not care how perfumy their target for a blood meal smells. Those who spray 'natural' concoctions of smelly oils in the fashion of a perfume demonstrator at a department store also are bitten. The only thing these natural oils repel are those of us who despise the smell. . . a surprisingly large number of people hate the smells of oils infused with lilac and fruits.

The same with sleep sacks made from various materials. I suppose if one is tightly sealed inside a bedbug cocoon with a snorkel for ventilation, any tight weaved material will keep bedbugs out. . . but the tenacious and dedicated pests may still get to you through the snorkel tube. :)

From my public health background, the most effective prevention is 'observation'. Examine for signs of bedbugs; closely examine the seams of mattresses, under mattresses, behind headboards, along nearby walls and baseboards. . . then if found, leave. it isn't foolproof, but it has a higher rate of success than the stink of lilac oils or the use of Permethrin as a bedbug repellent.

To keep from being a source of a new bedbug infestation as you travel from one night's lodging to another, be it alburgue or Parador, periodically check inside you backpack and stuff sacks and sleeping bags with a bright flashlight for signs of bedbugs. If you suspect an infestation, run your clothes and backpack and anything made of fabric through a hot dryer for 20 to 40 minutes. Do not waste time washing them first; it is only the heat that is needed to kill bedbugs regardless of their stage of life.
 

TallSimon

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(Norte)
There's is nothing that you can spray on your gear that will repel bedbugs. Many people use permethrin, which will kill bedbugs over time. I spray it on my sleeping gear, inside my backpack, and on all my cloth stuff sacks. If any bedbugs get inside my things I want to make sure that they don't come out alive.
You can use a spray with DEET on yourself.

This video shows bedbugs slowly dying on permethrin treated fabric.

I am one of those people who react to DEET based repellant when it is applied to my skin, I have extensive experience with Scottish midges so this whole subject is of interest to me. Does contact with Permethrin cause similar reaction,or is it best to just try a small sample and see? It may vary from person to person.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I am one of those people who react to DEET based repellant when it is applied to my skin, I have extensive experience with Scottish midges so this whole subject is of interest to me. Does contact with Permethrin cause similar reaction,or is it best to just try a small sample and see? It may vary from person to person.
You should never let permethrin spray touch your skin. It needs to be applied to your gear outdoors or in a well ventilated area, and allowed to dry fully before handling. I don't know if people are sensitive to permethrin treated items.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
I am one of those people who react to DEET based repellant when it is applied to my skin, I have extensive experience with Scottish midges so this whole subject is of interest to me. Does contact with Permethrin cause similar reaction,or is it best to just try a small sample and see? It may vary from person to person.

Trecile provided a great answer.

Again, it is important to note that bedbugs are not repelled by Permethrin. You could be wet from the stuff, and it makes no nevermind to a bedbug. After they have feasted on you and have strolled away to walk off the meal, they may shortly become puzzled as to why their body is shutting down; that is, of course, if bedbugs have the capability of being puzzled. :)

Deet may be tolerated on the skin by most folks, but, like you, skin irritations are possible. When I use either Deet or Permethrin (I tend to apply both to deal with ticks and mosquitos), I apply it to one set of dedicated 'bug clothes' that I keep in a large zip lock type bag: a pair of socks, super thin, summer-weight long pants, a summer-weight, long-sleeved shirt, and a lightweight scarf.

The clothes dry from Permethrin application prior to a backpacking trip, and the application will last at least a dozen light washings with minimal detergents. When I don the bug clothes, I apply a light misting of a 70%+ concentration of deet, which will only be effective for 8 to 10 hours. I apply deet to the scarf, neck gaiter, etc. before I put it on.

If mosquitos are going after hands, then a thin, pair of cotton gloves can be misted with deet.
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have read all of the great advice that has been posted here over the years, but I have gotten bitten two or three times no matter what I do.

So what I do now is to just be careful where I lay my head, and do a visual check. I’ve given up spraying chemicals. But one thing I do that no one has mentioned is that when I get home I take off all my clothes in the garage and stuff them all into a black plastic bag. I do the same with my backpack. I leave them both out in the hot midwestern summer sun for a few days.

Getting bitten on the camino is more of annoyance than anything else for most of us (I know there are some with extreme allergic reactions) but bringing them into the house will set you up for a lot of frustration and a lot of expense to get rid of them.
 

Frank Wortley

Member
Past OR future Camino
French Caminos - April/May 2013, March/April 2017 and (Sept/Oct 2018)
Every year before I go I spray the outside of my pack and sleeping bag with Permethrin. I use Sawyers and buy it on Amazon. So far, it has protected me, even when people in the bunk below me have been bitten.

Also, when I'm staying in albergues, I purchase a mosquito spray from the Farmacia. When I arrive, I check for bedbugs. If I see no sign, I mist just a pump or two over the bed. If there are bedbugs, they will come to the surface.

For people complaining about spraying something in the room, this is no worse than people's deodorant spray or essential oils or eye-burning cologne. You can't smell it a bed away. I have multiple chemical sensitivities and can smell the UPS man coming a mile away and this doesn't affect me. Try to get a spray that is fragrance free.

I have a blog on spotting bedbugs here:
Very helpful. Thank you
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
When I arrive, I check for bedbugs. If I see no sign, I mist just a pump or two over the bed. If there are bedbugs, they will come to the surface.
That may work for any bedbugs that happen to be hiding under the sheet, but it doesn't help at all with the majority of bedbugs, who are hiding in cracks and crevices in the walls and furniture of the room
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I used @Anniesantiago 's methods for a few years, and it seemed to work until it did not. Now I use the cocoon system Dave Bugg decries (without a snorkel tube, I cinch the top with elastic tightly closed over my head and find I can breath through the fabric) using a silk bedbug liner. The bedbugs have to be able to penetrate silk, and so far they have not. On one occasion I watched one crawl over my face, on the other side of the silk liner - scary! But did not get bitten.
I am resigned to the fact that sooner or later those creatures of the devil will penetrate my defences, in which case I will change tactics.

Preventive bush fire undergrowth burning off is happening around me at the moment (it is spring). The smell of eucalyptus smoke is heavy. Is there any evidence that bedbugs scuttle away from smoke? I'm thinking about those beehive smokers...
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I used @Anniesantiago 's methods for a few years, and it seemed to work until it did not. Now I use the cocoon system Dave Bugg decries (without a snorkel tube, I cinch the top with elastic tightly closed over my head and find I can breath through the fabric) using a silk bedbug liner. The bedbugs have to be able to penetrate silk, and so far they have not. On one occasion I watched one crawl over my face, on the other side of the silk liner - scary! But did not get bitten.
I am resigned to the fact that sooner or later those creatures of the devil will penetrate my defences, in which case I will change tactics.

Preventive bush fire undergrowth burning off is happening around me at the moment (it is spring). The smell of eucalyptus smoke is heavy. Is there any evidence that bedbugs scuttle away from smoke? I'm thinking about those beehive smokers...
hahaha! There's no way I could sleep like that! I have to have fresh air!
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I use natural oils. Peppermint lemongrass and witch hazel. I put it in a small pump sprayer. I spray my gear and myself. So far no issues on 7 Caminos. Bonus it smells nice!!!😂😂😂
Not to me.
Peppermint gives me such a migraine!
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
That may work for any bedbugs that happen to be hiding under the sheet, but it doesn't help at all with the majority of bedbugs, who are hiding in cracks and crevices in the walls and furniture of the room
Yup, but it's always worked for me.
This is AFTER I've checked all the furniture, cracks, and BEHIND PICTURES ON THE WALL! Once in a monastery, I moved a picture on the wall and Holy CRAP! That was where they all lived!
 

jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
All very interesting replies, but nobody has yet answered the OP's question 🙃.

And sorry, but I can't help either :(.
 
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jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I don't know about Europe, but this is what I buy in South Africa to spray my sleeping bag and backpack before I leave. Active ingredient is permethrin.
Permethrin1.jpg
 

dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Permethrin kills bedbugs, slowly (as does heat or freezing). It does not repel them. Nor does DEET. So far as I am aware, nothing repels bedbugs. Sorry.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Has this been tested, or is it just the absence of evidence that it does?
Pretty sure it's been tested. I researched the subject a lot when we were hospitaleros and had a bedbug issue and several of the sources I read specifically mentioned DEET and its ineffectiveness against bedbugs, but I don't remember the names of those sources.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
But:

Wang C, Lü L, Zhang A, Liu C. Repellency of selected chemicals against the bed bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). J Econ Entomol. 2013 Dec;106(6):2522-9. doi: 10.1603/ec13155. PMID: 24498754.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/244...DEET-,and dissolves certain plastic materials.

At 25% concentration, DEET-treated fabric surface remained highly repellent to bed bugs for a 14-d period. However, DEET has a strong smell and dissolves certain plastic materials.

The two commercial repellent products that contained 7% picaridin or 0.5% permethrin had little repellency against bed bugs.

So there we go.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
At 25% concentration, DEET-treated fabric surface remained highly repellent to bed bugs for a 14-d period. However, DEET has a strong smell and dissolves certain plastic materials.

The two commercial repellent products that contained 7% picaridin or 0.5% permethrin had little repellency against bed bugs.
Thank you for the definitive answer!
 

dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Thank you for the definitive answer!

But wait! There's more! Nothing is ever that simple, unfortunately. This link is to a source that is non-academic but seems well-informed. It makes the point that no repellent is 100% effective, so if the little critters are hungry enough, they will bite you anyway. Applying DEET to your skin may not be a good idea unless you are in a malaria/dengue fever zone, which the camino isn't. More important is avoiding taking the bedbugs with you and for that, DEET is much more useful because you can apply it to your backpack and shoes (as you can with permethrin, if you can get it).

By the way, you are 100% correct about bedbugs not necessarily lurking in the bedding. We usually found them on the wall en route to the space above the ceiling tiles or behind the skirting boards.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
The question, then, is if the bedbugs have a choice between me, with my pyrmethrin coated sleep sack and DEET on my skin, and the person next to me who has done nothing (or has soaked themselves in lavender, citronella and other ghastly substances that don't work), will they choose the other guy over me?
Only one way to find out really.
 
Past OR future Camino
Have completed through Agosta
For most of the Caminos, I have done I have used a product that I purchase in the USA . I am from Canada and it's not allowed here. I buy it at Walmart and it is called Permethrin. I have slept in Albegues where people had bed bugs and it never affected me. But you need to spray your sleeping bag and your backpack good luck.
Same here....never a problem with over 70 nights
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
It doesn't immediately kill on contact. It can take several hours, as shown on the video that I posted above.
I love that the video is set to zany music. I want to see a test of fabric coated with permethrin over somebody's skin, where they can either feed or leave quickly.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I wish I were there to find out first hand...I would rather be bitten, than not get to go! Never thought I'd ever be saying that.🙄
I hear you. Have spent the morning inspecting an online map to determine the boundary of our local govt area and 5 km radius. No bedbugs though.
 

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