How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Just like your bedding in your home, your sleeping bag will need to cleaned every once in a while. Ensuring your sleeping bag is regularly cleaned will prolong its life, keep you from getting cold, and retain its loft. This post will show you how to properly wash and dry your sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags come with their own cleaning instructions (which you should definitely follow). But here are just a couple of the methods that we have found to be most effective which don’t put a lot of stress on the fabrics of your cherished sleeping bag.

Hand Washing Your Sleeping Bag

The first method we recommend is to hand wash your sleeping bag. Hand washing will allow you to take extra care when washing your sleeping bag. You can also tackle those specific areas which require a little more attention than others.

  1. Fill your bath with warm water (32℃/90℉). Ensure that the water is not piping hot as this could cause damage to your sleeping bag. If the water is too cold you won’t wash much of the dirt and grime off!
  2. Add a very mild fabric soap to the water and swirl until it is fully dissolved.
  3. Gently place your fully zipped sleeping bag into the bathtub and ensure that it is fully submerged – leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  4. Give your sleeping bag a rough massage with your hands to make sure that the soapy water can tackle those hard to reach areas.
  5. Leave your sleeping bag to soak again for 1-5 hours, depending on how dirty and grimy the bag is, the longer the better.
  6. Pull the plug from the bath, let the water completely drain.
  7. Fill the bathtub with fresh cold water, massage the sleeping bag and drain the water. Repeat this step until the water runs crystal clear with no visible sign of dirt runoff.
  8. Gently press the excess water out of the sleeping bag with your hands, ensure that you do not roll the bag.
  9. Fold the sleeping bag length-ways and press firmly until to drain even more of the excess water.
  10. You should now have a very clean but slightly damp sleeping bag. Follow these steps to ensure that you dry your bag properly.

Machine Washing Your Sleeping Bag

Cleaning your sleeping bag with a washing machine will ensure that you get a super clean bag. Repeated use of this method will slowly wear out your sleeping bag which could greatly shorten its life. We always recommend to hand wash when able, but if you are strapped for time or don’t have a bathtub, then machine washing is the way forward.

  1. Before loading your sleeping bag into the washing machine, ensure that all zippers are secure and attachments are removed – you don’t want to break your machine.
  2. Load your sleeping bag into a front loading washing machine. A front loading machine is preferred over a top loading washing machine. This is due to the fact that they impart much less wear and tear on the items that they are washing.
  3. Add a very mild fabric soap to the load.
  4. Set the washing machine to a gentle wash with a temperature of up to 30℃/86℉.
  5. You should now have a very clean but slightly damp sleeping bag. Follow these steps to ensure that you dry your bag properly.

Drying Your Sleeping Bag

Once most of the excess water has been drained from your sleeping bag, you can dry it – one of the most important steps. You can use any of the methods below.

  • Air-drying – Lay your sleeping bag across a rotary washing line or across a few clothes rails for a minimum of 12 hours to completely dry. This will ensure that you don’t introduce mildew to your sleeping bag.
  • Machine drying – Sleeping bags can actually be tumble-dried. It is important to ensure that the machine is on a very low setting. Excess exposure to heat will melt the material.

You should now have a clean and dry sleeping bag to take with you on your adventures. Make sure that you protect your fresh clean sleeping bag by following our other guides.

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