Tips for Washing Sleeping Bags

Some people avoid washing sleeping bags like the plague. Maybe you’ve put off washing your sleeping bag because you’re afraid of ruining your bag’s temperature rating. Or maybe you’re afraid of ruining your sleeping bag altogether. Body oils, dirt, and drool can ruin your sleeping bag’s ability to keep you properly insulated, however. Plus, it can start to stink over time. Fortunately, washing a sleeping bag is a fairly easy process that will rejuvenate the insulation and restore the temperature rating. Here are a few tips for washing sleeping bags.

How often should you wash your sleeping bag?

Generally speaking, you’ll know when it’s time to wash your sleeping bag. If your bag is looking greasy, feeling a bit flat, or smelling foul, it’s time for a wash. This may be once a year, depending on how often you use your bag, and how you care for it. Definitely not after every trip, though.

Identify the filling

You need to find out whether you have a down sleeping bag or a synthetic sleeping bag before you start cleaning. The process is pretty much the same for both, but the drying process and the detergent used is different.

Find the tag

Locate the tag on your sleeping bag and read the washing and care instructions thoroughly. Follow the manufacturer recommendations above any other care instructions.

Washing sleeping bags

You need a large front-loading washing machine without a central agitator. You may have to go to a laundromat to do this. Small washing machines may not circulate water properly, which means your bag won’t get a thorough cleaning, and agitators can damage your sleeping bag.

Not just any detergent will do. Use a cleaning solution designed specifically for the type of insulation in your sleeping bag. Nikwax makes cleaners for both down insulation and synthetic insulation.

Wash on a gentle cycle with cold water.

Do extra cycles

You may need to run an extra rinse cycle to completely get rid of all of the detergent, and you may want to run an extra spin cycle or two to help remove excess water from the bag.

Remove as much water as possible

Gently squeeze out any excess water from the sleeping bag. This makes it easier to dry your bag.

Fully dry your bag

Both synthetic and down sleeping bags should be tumble dried on low heat. Add a few clean tennis balls to the dryer to improve the loft of the insulation. This is absolutely necessary for down sleeping bags, but it’s useful for synthetic bags as well.

It may take several runs through the dryer, so watch your bag and check it periodically.

Taking care of your sleeping bag

A sleeping bag liner can extend the life of your sleeping bag and increase the amount of time needed between washings. Read more tips for keeping your sleeping bag clean and making your sleeping bag last longer.

Visit Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for sleeping pads, sleeping bag liners, and sleeping bags in Northwest Arkansas.

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