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I’ve heard that DEET is bad for sleeping bag fabrics and can even melt some materials. Since I use DEET on my body on most camping trips, should I always wash my sleeping bag after every trip? And if not, how often should I wash it to protect it from DEET?
Submitted by – Bill – Nightdale, NC
Short answer: Yes, DEET will contaminate your bag, and performance will eventually suffer. Either the materials will start to degrade (if the materials are exposed to high concentrations) or performance will just start to fade (loft will diminish and the breathability of the fabric will suffer).
But in some places, when the bugs are particularly nasty, DEET is a necessary evil, right? There is a solution: a sleeping bag liner. A liner has several benefits: It acts as a barrier between your sweaty, oily, sunscreen-y, DEET-y skin and the bag. It’s easily washable—just toss it in the machine after each trip. And it feels pretty nice against the skin, especially in warm weather. Liners come in lots of flavors—cotton, poly, silk, and various blends. Two great liners: Sea to Summit Coolmax Adapter (about $45, seatosummit.com) or Cocoon by Design Salt Silk Mummy Liner (starting at $50, designsalt.com)