Learn How To Thoroughly Wash A Sleeping Bag (A Tutorial)

Learn How To Thoroughly Wash A Sleeping Bag

Key Takeaways
● Washing a sleeping bag can help keep it in good condition for long years.
● Synthetic and down-filled sleeping bags require slightly different cleaning techniques.
● Be sure to use the appropriate soap or detergent for the material used in your sleeping bag.

Like most campers, you probably take your sleeping bag for granted. And now you’re wondering how to properly clean it so it can continue looking and performing its best.

You’ll need to gather the right supplies and follow simple steps to clean your sleeping bag. You should also choose the right method for drying your sleeping bag after it’s been washed.

Keep reading for instructions on how to give your sleeping bag a thorough cleaning. It will make your trips more comfortable and keep your bag in good condition for years to come!

Pre-Wash Preparations

Pre-Wash Preparations

Before you begin washing your sleeping bag, there are some preparations to make. First and foremost, check the care LABEL on your sleeping bag for specific instructions from the manufacturer.

A DWR (durable water repellent) finish may also be applied to some synthetic sleeping bags. Check for a DWR tag, which will indicate whether or not your bag has been treated with this special coating [1].

This way, you’ll know which cleaning method is best for your sleeping bag. If a special cleaning product or process is recommended, follow it closely. Additionally, you’ll need to determine if the sleeping bag is filled with DOWN or SYNTHETIC materials.

A down sleeping bag requires a different approach than a synthetic one, so it’s important to know what kind of filling your bag has. If unsure, check the care label for more information or contact the MANUFACTURER directly.

Washing Synthetic Bags

Washing Synthetic Bags

Synthetic sleeping bags are typically made with nylon and polyester materials. It’s essential to follow the washing instructions for synthetic sleeping bags closely, as too much agitation or heat can cause damage.

Here are the steps for washing a synthetic sleeping bag:

Prepare the Washing Machine

Before you begin, set the temperature of your washing machine to “cold” or “warm.” If the care LABEL on your sleeping bag indicates a specific temperature setting, follow that instruction [2].

Add Detergent

Add one scoop of mild detergent designed for DELICATE items and disperse it in the water before adding your sleeping bag. This will help ensure a thorough cleaning without over-agitating the fabric.

Place Sleeping Bag in Washing Machine

Place the sleeping bag into the washing machine and close the lid securely. Select a GENTLE machine wash cycle such as “hand wash” or “delicate.”

Run the Washing Machine

Run the washing machine on its chosen cycle and let it run until it stops. Once finished, open the lid and make sure your sleeping bag is THOROUGHLY rinsed by feeling for any soap residue.

Remove Sleeping Bag from Washing Machine

Once you have ensured a thorough rinse, remove your sleeping bag from the washing machine and place it in a large dry bath towel to absorb EXCESS moisture.

Gently roll the towel around your sleeping bag and press against it to squeeze out as much water as possible without wringing or twisting.

Pro Tip: When possible, use a front-loading washer that doesn’t spin the sleeping bag around to limit agitation.

Washing Down-Filled Bags

Washing Down-Filled Bags

Down sleeping bags require a different approach than synthetic ones since washing a down bag requires more gentle techniques. Here are the steps to follow when washing a down-filled sleeping bag:

Fill Sink or Tub

Fill your sink or tub with cold water and a mild detergent DESIGNED explicitly for down items. Add one scoop of detergent and mix it in the water until it’s evenly dispersed. Place your dirty sleeping bag in the water and let it soak for at least 10 minutes.

Soak Sleeping Bag

Allow your sleeping bag to SOAK for at least 10 minutes before gently agitating the fabric and filling it, working from the bottom up. This will help ensure dirt and other debris are thoroughly removed.

Rinse Sleeping Bag

Once you have finished agitating the fabric, rinse your sleeping bag in a separate container filled with cold water until all the soap is gone. Alternatively, you can select a rinse cycle on your washing machine.

Pro Tip: For best results, repeat this process up to three times.

Dry Sleeping Bag

Once your sleeping bag is rinsed, remove it from the bathtub and place it on a large dry towel. Gently roll the towel around your sleeping bag and press against it to squeeze out any excess moisture without wringing or twisting. Hang it up or lay it flat somewhere warm and airy to DRY.

Drying the Sleeping Bag

Drying the Sleeping Bag

Once the sleeping bag is clean and free of excess water, it’s time to dry it. Drying a sleeping bag properly is essential in maintaining its quality for years.

There are a few DIFFERENT methods you can use to dry your sleeping bag, depending on the type of material it’s made with:

Synthetic Bag

For synthetic bags, tumble dry on LOW or no heat with several clean tennis balls or shoes that can help fluff up the filling while eliminating moisture.

Alternatively, air-drying outside on a clothesline works well too. Make sure to MOVE the sleeping bag around every couple of hours so that all areas have time to dry evenly.

Down-Filled Bag

Down-filled bags should NEVER be placed in a dryer, as the heat can damage the delicate feathers and cause them to clump up. Instead, air-dry your down-filled sleeping bag in a well-ventilated area near an open window or outside a clothesline.

Make sure to move the sleeping bag around every few hours so that all areas have time to dry evenly. This process may take several days, but it’s worth it for preserving the QUALITY of your sleeping bag.

Once your sleeping bag is completely dry, store it in a cool, dark place with plenty of airflow until you are ready to use it again.

Pro Tip: Avoid twisting or wringing the sleeping bag as you work, and instead, use your hands to push out dirt and excess water gently.

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Results

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Results

When washing and drying your sleeping bag, you can use some tips and tricks to achieve optimal results. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Don’t Use Fabric Softeners

Avoid using fabric softeners when washing your sleeping bag, as these can cause the fabric to become BRITTLE and reduce its lifespan.

Test Your Water Temperature

To ensure you don’t accidentally shrink or damage your sleeping bag, test the water temperature before adding it to the tub or sink. Lukewarm water is BEST for most sleeping bags; hot water should be avoided entirely.

Use Gentle Detergent Only

When washing your sleeping bag, use a gentle detergent specifically designed for down items. Avoid using HARSH chemicals or detergents with bleach, as these can damage the fabric and reduce the lifespan of your sleeping bag.

Use Cold Water for Rinsing

For best results, rinse your sleeping bag in cold water to avoid SHRINKING or damaging the fabric and filling.

Maintenance To Keep Your Sleeping Bag In Good Condition

Maintenance To Keep Your Sleeping Bag In Good Condition

To keep your sleeping bag in optimal condition, it’s important to perform some basic maintenance. Here are a few tips:

Wash Regularly

Regularly wash your sleeping bag to keep it clean and free of dirt or debris. Washing often will help keep the fabric looking good and EXTEND its lifespan.

Store Properly

When not in use, make sure to store your sleeping bag properly. Store it in a cool, dark place with plenty of airflow so that it won’t be EXPOSED to UV rays or moisture.

Repair Damage

If your sleeping bag shows signs of wear and tear, take the time to REPAIR any damage as soon as possible. Doing so will help ensure that your sleeping bag stays in good condition for years.

Shake It Out

When packing or unpacking your sleeping bag, make sure to SHAKE it out and look for any foreign objects. This will help remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten into the fabric and prevent DAMAGE over time.

Careful Of Sharp Objects

Additionally, be careful of SHARP objects when using your sleeping bag. Avoid walking on it with shoes or bringing items such as knives and tools around it, as these can cause rips and tears.

Don’t Place It In Damp Areas

Finally, avoid placing your sleeping bag in damp areas such as tents or wet cabins. Doing so may cause mold and mildew to grow on the fabric, reducing its LONGEVITY.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Wash My Sleeping Bag?

It is recommended to wash your sleeping bag once every 3-4 months or after any extended trips. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions for specific recommendations.

Should I Wash The Stuff Sack Too?

Yes, you should wash the stuff sack as well. It should be machine washed in cold water and air-dried separately from the sleeping bag.

What If I Don’t Have A Washing Machine?

If you don’t have access to a washing machine, you can also handwash your sleeping bag in a tub or sink with mild detergent and cold water. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly afterward. Additionally, you may want to consider spot-cleaning any stubborn stains or dirt.

Can I Use A Hairdryer To Dry My Sleeping Bag?

No, you should never use a hairdryer to dry your sleeping bag. The heat can damage the fabrics and feathers, so it’s best to air-dry the sleeping bag in an open space or on a clothesline.

How Do I Wash My Sleeping Bag Liner?

A sleeping bag liner is a lightweight fabric barrier placed inside the bag. It helps keep your bag clean and can absorb sweat and body oils, so it’s best to wash it periodically to prevent dirt buildup.

It should be washed separately from the sleeping bag in cold water and air-dried afterward. Make sure to read the label on the liner for any additional instructions.



So there you have it—a comprehensive guide to cleaning and caring for your sleeping bag. With these tips, you should have no problem keeping your sleeping bag clean and in excellent condition for years to come.

If you follow the instructions carefully and take good care of your sleeping bag, it will serve you well on many adventures.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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