After you have used your backpacking sleeping bag for an adventure or a night out, chances are it has gotten dirty, filled with dust or even the bag maybe losing its loft. Then it is time to give it a proper wash.

Washing your sleeping bag is essential as it ensures that the bag remains clean and retains its main feature, warmth.

Washing a sleeping bag is not that difficult; however, it is important to know a few things before carrying out the process. Or else you can end up damaging the material.

The cleaning process of the sleeping bag differs with its type. The down bags require more time and attention as compared to washing the synthetic bags.

Let us now explain the general process of washing the sleeping bag.

We have listed out the steps for washing the sleeping bags with both Down and Synthetic insulations. Here we go:

Steps to Wash Down Sleeping Bag

Down sleeping bags are stuffed with high-quality down insulation. The inclusion of standard materials makes them known for impressive loft and fluffiness. To maintain the exceptional softness and warmth of the down sleeping bags, you need to ensure that they remain clean and fresh.

The cleaning process of down bags requires quite a long time, and a lot of attention.

Here, we have separately listed the steps of machine and hand washing your down sleeping bags.

Machine Washing Down Sleeping Bags

For machine washing a down sleeping bag, make sure you have with you these essential things:

  • Large Front-Loading Washing Machine
  • Special Down Soap
  • Clean Tennis balls

Now, let’s dive into the machine washing steps:

  • Read the washing instructions carefully on your sleeping bag label. It will help you to determine the water temperature and setting of your washing machine.
  • If your sleeping bag has a waterproof shell, turn it inside out.
  • Run your down sleeping bag through a rinse cycle before placing it in the machine. If you are at a laundry, make sure that there is nothing inside the machine which could interrupt the washing process.
  • Make sure that the machine comes without agitator as it may rip your sleeping bag.
  • Now, put your Down soap according to the instruction on the bottle. If you are using NikiWax down soap, it will cost you 100 ml of soap per wash. Avoid the use of regular detergent, bleach, and fabric softener.
  • Set the temperature of the water as per the settings mentioned in your down sleeping bag label. Usually, you can wash your bag at 86 degrees F or on a delicate cycle. If the soap doesn’t go off completely after the first wash, run your sleeping bag through a wash cycle without using any soap.
  • Before removing your bag from the machine, make sure that you have placed several towels on the floor to soak up the water.
  • Put your down bag into the dryer on a Tumble Dry Low setting. Add some tennis balls to the dryer near the end of the cycle. It helps to maintain the fluffiness of your sleeping bag.
  • Keep patience until your down sleeping bag is thoroughly dried. After that, store your bag loosely in an uncompressed manner.

Hand Washing Down Sleeping Bags

Hand washing your down sleeping bag is a longer process that requires major attention as well. The following are the materials needed for hand washing your down sleeping bag:

  • Bathtub
  • Special Down Soap

Now let’s see the handwashing steps:

  • At first, stuff your bathtub with lukewarm water. Then, turn your down sleeping bag inside out and zip it up.
  • Just like machine washing, mix the down soap according to the instruction provided on the bottle. If you are using NikiWax down soap, you need 100 ml of it for a wash. Avoid using regular detergent as this will take away the natural oils from your down.
  • Now, submerge your down sleeping bag into the bathtub and start massaging it gently. This will help the soap enter into the fabric and clean up the feathers.
  • Leave your bag to soak for an hour and and refill the tub again with fresh water.
  • Make sure that all the soap from your bag is removed. You can do this by walking up and down the bag without squeezing it.
  • After the soap is removed, drain the water from the tub and remove the remaining water from your bag.
  • Now dry your down sleeping bag by laying it on a clean surface. You can also put your bag into the dryer on a Tumble Dry Low setting.
  • Wait for a few hours until your bag is fully dried. After that, hang or store your bag in an uncompressed manner.

Steps to Wash a Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Synthetic sleeping bags are crafted with polyester fragments or foam-like filaments that aid in their warmth. This type of bags are highly water-resistant as the fluffy material doesn’t let it absorb water.

Synthetic sleeping bags can be washed and cleaned in much the same way as down bags. Now let’s begin with the steps of machine and hand washing a synthetic sleeping bag.

Machine Washing Synthetic Sleeping Bags

You require the following materials to machine wash your synthetic sleeping bag:

  • Front-Loading Washing Machine, and
  • Fragrance-free Soap

The following are the washing steps you should follow:

  • Ready your machine by checking if there is anything inside that may damage your sleeping bag.
  • Before starting the wash, make sure that all zippers and the velcro tab are appropriately secured.
  • Set your water temperature up to 86 degrees F for a warm wash. Add a fragrance-free soap like Revivex Pro-Cleaner, specially designed for washing synthetic insulation. Unlike down bags, synthetic sleeping bags can be cleaned with the usual washing powder and fabric conditioner.
  • Make use of a heavy-duty front loader on a gentle cycle.
  • After the wash is completed, give it an extra spin cycle to make sure all the soap is out.
  • Apply a freshwater repellent treatment on the bag’s exterior before placing it in the dryer.
  • Dry your bag as per the manufacturer’s instructions typically on a low heat setting. Always take note that high heat can quickly melt the synthetic fabrics.
  • Leave the bag to dry for several hours entirely and then store it in an oversized sack to preserve its loft.

Hand Washing Synthetic Sleeping Bags

For comfortably hand washing your synthetic sleeping bag, you will need:

  • A Bathtub
  • Fragrance-free Soap

Now let’s get along the process.

  • First of all, fill your tub with 150 mm of warm water and add fragrance-free soap or detergent.
  • Now place your bag in the tub and gently massage your synthetic sleeping bag using soft hands. Once your bag gets overloaded with water, do not attempt to lift it out of the tub.
  • Leave your bag to soak for about 1-4 hours, depending on how much dirty your bag is.
  • After the soaking process is done, drain the water and add some fresh water to the tub. Now massage the water into the bag again until it gets properly cleaned.
  • Make sure to press all the water out from your bag by rolling it carefully. You can also fold the ends of your bag in towards its center and press firmly until the water is expelled.
  • You can air-dry your synthetic sleeping bag by keeping it in a shaded area out of direct sunlight.

In Conclusion

Generally, once your sleeping bag starts getting smelly and dirty, it is time you wash it, just like any other garment. This typically means that you should wash your bag once or in some cases, twice a year. However, you should always take precautions before getting your bag ready for a wash.

And if you tend to use your sleeping bag frequently, using a sleeping bag liner would be the best option to keep your clean without washing it. The liners come in a variety of fabrics including silk and cotton lines. Using these liners means that you don’t need to wash your sleeping bag as regularly as you would have to. You can just wash the liner instead and keep your bag protected from dirt and grime.

In case you can’t afford sleeping bag liners or don’t want to use them, you can easily wash your bag following the aforementioned steps. Just be careful to execute each step as precisely as you can.

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