When traveling through locations with questionable hotels/hostels the last thing you want to deal with is bed bugs. Bed bugs cause all sorts of problems, from minor bites and skin irritation to somewhat serious infections.
While traveling abroad it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place to fight against bed bugs, but what can you do? You’ve probably read that silk sleeping bag liners can be used to fight against bed bugs, but do they actually work?
Do Silk Sleeping Bag Liners Stop Bed Bugs?
If you are traveling and staying in an area known to have bed bugs you should purchase a silk sleeping bag liner. Silk liners are the only option that really works to minimize contact with bed bugs. With a serious infestation bed bug bites will be seriously reduced, if not eliminated completely.
I’ve tried lots of different liners throughout the years and Sea to Summits premium Silk Liner travel liner(On Amazon) is by far my favorite. It comes in multiple sizes for 1 or 2 people, but I’ve always preferred the mummy style that wraps around my pillow minimizing contact with the bed.
Using a Silk Sleeping Bag Liner to Fight Against Bed Bugs
Wrapping yourself up with a silk liner will significantly reduce the risk of getting bit by bed bugs, but it’s not foolproof. Although bed bugs can’t penetrate through silk they can still crawl around the liner into openings giving access to your head, neck, and face.
To reduce the risk of bites look for a mummy liner (this is my favorite) with an attached hood to further minimize your exposed surface area. Although they aren’t 100% effective they’re so worth it.
While they aren’t all that cheap compared to other liners(maybe $20 more) the promise of a good night’s sleep will greatly improve your trip.
Consider Using Permetherin and Deet Spray to Kill Bed Bugs
Permetherin spray (On Amazon) is used primarily in the fight against mosquitos, but it works just as well with bed bugs. Just spray it liberally onto all sleeping bag, liner, pack, etc and you’re good to go. One treatment will last 6 weeks and it’s supposedly just as good as DEET with less side effects (hard to say if this is true).
It doesn’t matter where I am if there are biting insects in the area they’re going to find me. Before heading to bed I always spray myself down with DEET bug spray. Make sure you use a sleeping bag liner while using DEET because it will start to degrade your bag.
Silk Liners Can Be Used With or Without Sleeping Bags
Since you never know what kind of bedding you’re going to get I always bring my own sleeping bag to go with the liner. Some people like to wrap the liner around their sleeping bag, but I would rather use it inside to protect my bag from sweat and body oils.
Remember that even though you’re not getting bit inside the liner your sleeping bag will probably pick up some bed bugs. Make sure you launder the bag and kill all the bed bugs before taking it back inside your house. Continue reading below to learn how to wash your liner and bag.
When it’s warm out in the summer I will usually just leave my sleeping bag at home. It frees up a lot of space in my pack and significantly reduces weight.
Wash Your Gear Before Bringing It Into The House
Although you might avoid getting bit by bed bugs there’s still a chance that you’ll bring them home on your gear. If you’ve visited areas known to have bed bug infestations you’ll need to follow a few precautions before bringing everything inside.
- Strip down before heading inside and place all your clothes and gear into garbage bags and place them into a sealed trash can. I always strip down in my garage, but you can also do this at a local gym, Walmart, etc.
- Take your sleeping bag/liner out of your pack and unroll it placing them in garbage bags along side the rest of your clothes. Seal up all the rest of your luggage the same way just in case.
- After a week or two wash all your clothing and sleeping gear in HOT water and place it in the washing machine. Make sure you use detergents specifically made to work with your sleeping bag. Nikwax Tech Wash(On Amazon) is great for synthetic bags and Nikwax Down Wash Direct (On Amazon) for down-filled bags.
- For Treating backpacks and other items that won’t fit in the washing machine, place them in the bathtub and pour boiling water over top.