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Post Camino bed bugs in sleeping bag

2020 Camino Guides

marcy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept. 2014
I unfortunately ran into bed bugs on the Camino last fall - sprayed all my stuff, put it out in the hot sun, washed it in hot water. that lasted a couple days and I started getting bit again. Repeated the process. Same thing - lasted a couple days and started getting bit. In retrospect, I think I was able to rid all of them except the ones in my down sleeping bag. I started sleeping in places where I didn't use the sleeping bag and didn't get bit.

the problem, now that i'm home, is how to get rid of the bugs that I'm sure are still in the bag. Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive? I've heard to freeze the bag, but my freezer is small and I honestly don't even want to bring the bag in the house. It resides in my garage for now. Then the bigger question is - how do I test to know if the bugs are gone? I thought they were gone twice on the Camino, but they weren't. Seems I'd have to sleep in it to know - and then risk getting bit again. my friends from home tell me to throw the bag away. but it was expensive and i really like it......

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive?
It is an insecticide, so it will kill bed bugs after the fact. It does not kill the eggs, however, so you may want to treat the sleeping bag repeatedly over a couple of month.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
Marcy, where do you live?
Is it hot there?
I would not have that bag in my garage!
I would put it in a black garbage bag and tie it up tight and put it in the sun for a week.
Then I'd take it to the dry cleaners before bringing it into the house!
If you get them into your house, they are hell to get rid of.
And they WALK, so the trip from the garage to your bedroom isn't out of the question.
They also travel on shoes and clothes.
 

marcy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept. 2014
It's already been in a black plastic bag in the garage. It is hot here, and I've put it outside. Still not sure I can trust it.....
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
Hot in the garage is not hot enough.
It needs to be in the sun for days.
If you can, leave it for a week in the hot sun.
Then either send it to the dry cleaners, or wash in HOT water twice and dry in a HOT dryer.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
……or if, like me you have a friend that works in the food industry, put your gear into one of those big old walk in/drive in freezers for a couple of weeks (in a plastic bag of course) Kills them and them pesky little eggs off for good and proper.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
For good measure, after you've cooked them in the sun and/or deep frozen them, run a hot iron over the bag, with emphasis on the seams of the bag. That should fry the eggs.
 

Oztrekker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I started in st jean and am currently in leon. My foot is blistered after my boots wore out.

Have completed many long distance treks longest is 1000 km, bibulmun track.
Cook em, select medical wash on a quality front loader and it will be sterilized at 90 degrees.

Then just put it in the dryer. A couple of tennis balls can help fluff it up. I never had to do that.
 

Piccata

Pedestrian, at best
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Fall, 2012), Primitivo (Fall, 2015), Via de la Plata (Spring, 2016)
If you are hesitant to wash your down bag, it can simply be put in a drying machine at its highest setting for an hour--that will kill the eggs and bugs. And it works no matter what the weather conditions are outside. This is what I do when I'm traveling because a wet down bag can take many, many expensive drying machine cycles to dry completely.
 

Linda Johnson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2015
I unfortunately ran into bed bugs on the Camino last fall - sprayed all my stuff, put it out in the hot sun, washed it in hot water. that lasted a couple days and I started getting bit again. Repeated the process. Same thing - lasted a couple days and started getting bit. In retrospect, I think I was able to rid all of them except the ones in my down sleeping bag. I started sleeping in places where I didn't use the sleeping bag and didn't get bit.

the problem, now that i'm home, is how to get rid of the bugs that I'm sure are still in the bag. Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive? I've heard to freeze the bag, but my freezer is small and I honestly don't even want to bring the bag in the house. It resides in my garage for now. Then the bigger question is - how do I test to know if the bugs are gone? I thought they were gone twice on the Camino, but they weren't. Seems I'd have to sleep in it to know - and then risk getting bit again. my friends from home tell me to throw the bag away. but it was expensive and i really like it......

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 

Linda Johnson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2015
I unfortunately ran into bed bugs on the Camino last fall - sprayed all my stuff, put it out in the hot sun, washed it in hot water. that lasted a couple days and I started getting bit again. Repeated the process. Same thing - lasted a couple days and started getting bit. In retrospect, I think I was able to rid all of them except the ones in my down sleeping bag. I started sleeping in places where I didn't use the sleeping bag and didn't get bit.

the problem, now that i'm home, is how to get rid of the bugs that I'm sure are still in the bag. Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive? I've heard to freeze the bag, but my freezer is small and I honestly don't even want to bring the bag in the house. It resides in my garage for now. Then the bigger question is - how do I test to know if the bugs are gone? I thought they were gone twice on the Camino, but they weren't. Seems I'd have to sleep in it to know - and then risk getting bit again. my friends from home tell me to throw the bag away. but it was expensive and i really like it......

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 

Linda Johnson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2015
I unfortunately ran into bed bugs on the Camino last fall - sprayed all my stuff, put it out in the hot sun, washed it in hot water. that lasted a couple days and I started getting bit again. Repeated the process. Same thing - lasted a couple days and started getting bit. In retrospect, I think I was able to rid all of them except the ones in my down sleeping bag. I started sleeping in places where I didn't use the sleeping bag and didn't get bit.

the problem, now that i'm home, is how to get rid of the bugs that I'm sure are still in the bag. Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive? I've heard to freeze the bag, but my freezer is small and I honestly don't even want to bring the bag in the house. It resides in my garage for now. Then the bigger question is - how do I test to know if the bugs are gone? I thought they were gone twice on the Camino, but they weren't. Seems I'd have to sleep in it to know - and then risk getting bit again. my friends from home tell me to throw the bag away. but it was expensive and i really like it......

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 

Linda Johnson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2015
There is diatomaceous earth but the bugs need to walk through it to get killed not sure about the sleeping bag guess you could get some put in the sleeping bag then a green garbage bags and put in the sun. The diatomaceous earth would not harm your bag it comes off in the dryer or hanging it outside on a line. Good luck.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
freezing does not kill bugs.
The good news is that it does, according to this University of Minnesota study. However you need to do it thoroughly (just like with heat).
To summarize the key finding in the linked article:
  • 0°F (-17 C) must be reached in the center of the materials being frozen to kill bed bugs. Bulky items require more time. Start counting the 4 day exposure time when the center of the object has reached 0°F (-17C).
Many household freezers do get to that temperature. Mine does and I leave things in it for at least a week for good measure. Maybe put them in the dryer for an hour as well!
 

Sandra Smith

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2014
If you are hesitant to wash your down bag, it can simply be put in a drying machine at its highest setting for an hour--that will kill the eggs and bugs. And it works no matter what the weather conditions are outside. This is what I do when I'm traveling because a wet down bag can take many, many expensive drying machine cycles to dry completely.
Yes!

I’ve done tons of research on this because I had my own run in with the little demons on my first Camino. It’s not washing that kills them, it’s heat. So use a hot...I mean HOT!... dryer for an hour. That does the trick.

There’s also a product you can purchase that will heat your items that can’t go in a dryer. Look up bug zapper or pack-tite on the Internet. I forgot the exact name. Anyway, it has a probe to put into the deepest point of your item(s). When the correct temp is reached the device stays there for one hour.

It wasn’t cheap ($250 USD?). But it was MUCH cheaper than dealing with bed bugs in my home. It took care of heating things like my journal, my souvenirs, and other items that are best not placed in a dryer like my hiking boots.

Black bag in the hot sun is good if you keep a thin layer. Otherwise you may not get the core of your bag hot enough.

Oh yeah- a pest control guy I know who specializes in bed bug extermination said the bugs can go into a state similar to hibernation for 18 months without food. Supposedly freezing only works for certain if you leave the items frozen AT LEAST 6 months. They also love living in cardboard of all things. So he insists that homeowners with bed bugs get rid of all cardboard boxes and switch to shiny plastic bins. I guess those little pests can’t walk up a slippery surface.

Like I said—- I’ve learned a lot! I hope this helps.

Sandi
 

FastDB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte
Some time ago I uploaded this guide https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/de-bed-bugging-your-camino-gear.483/ to the resources section. Hope it helps! Buen Camino, SY
Thanks for this guide! I'm planning some hiking this weekend and this guide would come in handy. But I also wanted to ask one thing. I hear somewhere that ant traps can help to catch bed bugs in your sleeping bag. Is it true? I'm thinking about getting a few of these with me. Besides, I hope this would also deal with ants during my hike.
 
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C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I hear somewhere that ant traps can help to catch bed bugs in your sleeping bag.
This is a new one to me. Where did you hear that? I would never consider using ant traps in my sleeping bag! (How would that work, anyway?) Heat is simple and non-toxic.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I unfortunately ran into bed bugs on the Camino last fall - sprayed all my stuff, put it out in the hot sun, washed it in hot water. that lasted a couple days and I started getting bit again. Repeated the process. Same thing - lasted a couple days and started getting bit. In retrospect, I think I was able to rid all of them except the ones in my down sleeping bag. I started sleeping in places where I didn't use the sleeping bag and didn't get bit.

the problem, now that i'm home, is how to get rid of the bugs that I'm sure are still in the bag. Will permetherin work after the fact, or is it only preventive? I've heard to freeze the bag, but my freezer is small and I honestly don't even want to bring the bag in the house. It resides in my garage for now. Then the bigger question is - how do I test to know if the bugs are gone? I thought they were gone twice on the Camino, but they weren't. Seems I'd have to sleep in it to know - and then risk getting bit again. my friends from home tell me to throw the bag away. but it was expensive and i really like it......

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

I’m sure all the advice above is evidence-based and well-intentioned.

Personally, I’d take-off and nuke the bag from orbit. Or alternatively just throw it away.

How will you know that it’s thoroughly bed-bug-free? You will not.

You could loan it to someone - I’d volunteer my brother - but it would have to be an XXL.

Unless it’s an economically life-changing decision for you, dispose of it.

If I return home with even a story of a bed-bug I’m not allowed in the house until I’m naked and (thoroughly) shaved. Happily our house is not overlooked. Apart from
my credencial, phone, wallet and passport my entire wardrobe and luggage has been condemned twice in five years.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
This is 4 year old thread.
I'd love hear how "Marcy" finally resolved her issue. Me, I would have destroyed the sleeping bag before I left Spain. How much would it cost to buy a new one versus introducing your home to a bed bug infestationo_O
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Come on, guys! It is not necessary to destroy the sleeping bag. A couple of 30-minute rounds of a dry sleeping bag in a hot dryer will most certainly kill all bedbugs!
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Come on, guys! It is not necessary to destroy the sleeping bag. A couple of 30-minute rounds of a dry sleeping bag in a hot dryer will most certainly kill all bedbugs!
I’ve come close to being warned off here for frequently telling the superstitious that buying RFID wallets for their credit cards is utterly pointless. Go with the science and established facts not supposition and fear.

When it comes to bedbugs I’m afraid I go with superstition and fear every time. I know that you’re right, but I would still burn the bag and dance naked round the ashes rather than take it into my house.

Either that, or give it to my brother.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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’ve come close to being warned off here for frequently telling the superstitious that buying RFID wallets for their credit cards is utterly pointless. Go with the science and established facts not supposition and fear.

When it comes to bedbugs I’m afraid I go with superstition and fear every time. I know that you’re right, but I would still burn the bag and dance naked round the ashes rather than take it into my house.

Either that, or give it to my brother.
You and me both!
This after hearing the horror story from a Camino friend who spent well over $2000 to rid her house of bedbugs! This was after a trip to Asia, by the way, not the Camino.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
When it comes to bedbugs I’m afraid I go with superstition and fear every time.
That's understandable. But do you destroy everything that you took? And have an effective isolation chamber in front of your house? 🤣 These are annoying creatures, not ebola or rabies!
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
That's understandable. But do you destroy everything that you took? And have an effective isolation chamber in front of your house? 🤣 These are annoying creatures, not ebola or rabies!

In the interests of balance I should reconfirm that I know that your advice is correct.

SYates has written an understandable and scientifically accurate guide to ridding yourself and your possessions of bed bugs. It’s in the ‘resources’ section and referenced above. It’s not a five minute process!

To answer your question - after my first Camino when I had multiple bites - yes - every fabric item and my body hair in the bin, without exception. Thoroughly washed myself outside in insecticidal shampoo for at least half an hour. It was a nice day and my house is not overlooked by neighbours, thankfully.

I’m usually a logical chap, but this is a rare exception. Before Henry the dog arrived (I’m David, Henry’s feeder) I had cats. Through them I had a domestic flea infestation which took months to eradicate. I’m not taking that chance with bedbugs.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
As an easy precaution my husband brings a black garbage bag to the airport, into which we put my backpack, and the whole thing gets thrown into a chest deep freezer (turned down to the lowest temperature) and stays there for a month.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
As an easy precaution my husband brings a black garbage bag to the airport, into which we put my backpack, and the whole thing gets thrown into a chest deep freezer (turned down to the lowest temperature) and stays there for a month.
Since I had been bitten a couple of days before heading for home, I remembered this suggestion. And my husband also brought a clean set of clothes for me to change into. I’m embarrassed to say that two months later, the black garbage bags are still tied up and sitting in my garage. I put them out in the sun for a few days and then forgot about them. Thanks for reminding me. 😄
 

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