How To Wash A Sleeping Bag


Camping trip can’t be done without sleeping bags. They provide us much-needed sleep and help us stay fresh and well-rested for the rest of our trip’s duration. But, from time to time you’ll need to wash them. This article will lead you through the process of washing the sleeping bag.

How To Know If It Is Time To Wash It

The easiest way to be sure it is time to wash your sleeping bag is when it becomes darkened with grime, or you notice it has lost its loft.  But even if it doesn’t look like it has lost loft, you should think of all body oils and dirt gathered in it while you’ve been using your sleeping bag. Once you’ve made up your mind and decided it is time, this is how to wash a sleeping bag, before it loses more of its warmth.

Before we head to the main part, a small suggestion – if you think it is a good idea to wash it after every trip, no, it is not because it could wear off and you could ruin the fabrics, but laundering it will help you preserve its quality for a longer period of time.

Washing The Sleeping Bag

You could wash your sleeping bag in your washing machine, or by your hand. Both ways will do, as long as you stick to some of the rules that will help you keep it in a good shape.

Sleeping Bag Machine Washing Steps

First, visit your local supermarket or some specialized camping store and get cleaning products. Of course, you could always do by the instructions, or simply call the manufacturer and ask them for advice on what product should you use and what will serve your sleeping bag the best.

Once you’ve placed your sleeping bag in the washing machine, turn the gentle cycle on and use the warm or cold water, if the instructions say so. Everything will do, besides the hot water. When the washing machine has done its work and the time has come to remove it, don’t just grab it by one end and pull it out. Support the full bag to avoid straining or ripping the seams.

Once you’ve pulled it out, gently squeeze it to remove the water remains and help it dry faster. Take it to the commercial-sized dryer, and activate low heat. If your sleeping bag is a synthetic one, you should be done in an hour, while down bags usually take several hours to finish. Before you turn the dryer on, add two or three tennis balls it is a down bag, which will speed the drying time by breaking up clumps. Of course, make sure they’re clean before you add them. If one cycle isn’t enough, run it again, until your sleeping bag has dried out.

The Miracle Of Toothbrush Cleaning

There is a possibility that you could avoid the need to completely wash your sleeping bag by spot cleaning it with your toothbrush. But even if you’ve decided to wash it, you should do it on the interior linings of your bag’s head and foot areas. These are more dirt-prone than others, so it is a good idea to pay extra attention. It is not complicated.

Start by adding just a small amount of mild soap, or the same cleaner you’ll be using for the entire bag, to the spot you want to clean. Gently clean that place using a soft-bristle toothbrush. Once cleaned, carefully use the wet sponge to rinse it. And by “carefully” we mean don’t let the water get into the inner part of your sleeping bag. Hold the shell away from the insulation which will ease it up, but if the inner part gets wet, let it dry and make sure is completely dry before you store it.

Some Other Machine-Washing Related Tips

Most of the sleeping bags have fasteners, but it could seriously damage the fabrics if not secured properly. First, loosen the drawcords, which will help you avoid bunching up the fill. Then, fasten the hook-and-loop closures to stop them from snagging while the cycling is on.

Before you place your sleeping bag into the washing machine, make sure it is agitator-free. Many top-loading machines have it, and it could rip the seams on your sleeping bag.

Before you store it, make sure your sleeping bag is completely dry by laying it down or letting it hang overnight. Store it once you get up, it should be dry enough by that time.

If you think about taking it to a dry cleaner, don’t – the industrial chemicals used by dry cleaners are harsh and will remove the natural oils which keep the sleeping bag loft.  Also, you should avoid fabric softeners, bleach, or any similar products, which could mess up your bag.

To prevent it from becoming dirty in the first place, you could take care of it in camp by using a bag liner to prevent the dust build-up. Also, make sure your sleeping clothes are clean, and it is good to air out your bags from time to time.

How To Hand Wash Your Sleeping Bag


If you decide it is better to wash your sleeping bags by your hand or you don’t have a proper washing machine nearby, don’t worry. It is not so hard, and you could have some fun while you do it!

Start by filling your bathtub with warm or cool water, depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Add the amount of the cleaning product, but make sure you’ve got the right one as it could be different for down bags and synthetic ones. Using too much soap will not affect the quality of your bag, but it will be hard to rinse it all out.

Once your bathtub is filled with soaped water, lay your bag in it and start to apply it to the whole bag. Pay special attention to those most affected areas and rub them together. Then, when you’ve been through the entire suit, let it soak for about an hour. When that hour passes, drain the tub without removing the bag, and press the water remains out of it.

Then fill the tub again with the same water, just this time don’t add the soap. Remove the soap gently out of your sleeping bag, and leave it for about 15 minutes before you drain your tub again. Once drained, press the soap remaining out and fill the tub with the clean water again to repeat the rinsing process. When you’re certain there is no soap left, squeeze it gently to remove the water. The goal is to remove as much as possible.

When done, gather it all up in a ball in your arms and take it to the dryer. If your dryer is not big enough for you to spread your sleeping bag and it stays curled up, you should take it to the Laundromat. Remember, synthetic ones should be done in an hour, but down bags will probably take a few hours, and you should add two or three clean tennis balls when drying your bag.

If you choose to dry it naturally, find some clean place with low humidity and away from the direct sunlight. This way you may need to remove the clumps of insulation by your hand during the drying period, but it will save you a few bucks and you won’t risk any damage caused by the dryers.

Prevention – How To Keep Your Sleeping Bag Clean While Camping

Taking care of your sleeping bag is one of the most important things you should do while camping. If you keep it clean, dry and protect it from dirt or other things that could affect its quality, you’ll help it last longer and keep it more efficient along the way, especially if the sleeping bag is a down one.

Sleep In Clean Clothes

Entering the sleeping bag in the same clothes you’ve been wearing all day should be a big no-no, no matter how much you love your outfit. Don’t be lazy, go and take a shower to remove all the sweat, dirt, and oils that have gathered on your body. Then get into some clean clothes. If it is warm, make sure your T-shirt and underwear are clean. You could also have a bandana or a knit cap on to prevent your hair from affecting the bag’s hood. Taking shower will also remove the sunscreen from your body and your face, and prevent it from soaking into your bag.

Ground Protection

Sleeping under the starlight is one of the most amazing things and yes, you should do it, but make sure you’ve placed a pad underneath before you lay down to the ground. The reason lays in the fact that there could be small rocks or sticks which could damage your sleeping bag.

Don’t Jump Around In Your Sleeping Bag

You’ve probably seen a scene in some movie or a TV show where a guy or a girl jumps around happily in their sleeping bag, and let them do it. You, on the other hand, should know that jumping around in it could damage the toe box, and you want to keep your sleeping bag whole. That is also a reason why you shouldn’t wear it by the campfire to warm your legs. Use a blanket or some old sleeping bag you don’t use anymore instead.

Air It Out Daily

When you get up, turn your sleeping bag inside out and let it air out to dry any moisture that has gathered during the night. Try not to leave it under direct sunlight because UV light harms the fabric. If it is really wet, find some shade and leave it there for a few hours. And once you return home, also air it out for a few hours.

Storing It Properly Will Make It Last Longer

The proper way of storing your sleeping bag is one of the things that will help it last longer without losing much of its original quality over time. When you get home, first unzip the bag, and then air it out until you’re sure it is dry. Once done, it is time to store it loosely in a large cotton or mesh storage sack. You should get these when you buy your sleeping bag, but you could also buy these separately. Don’t leave it compressed in a stuff sack.

Additional Tips

Check your bag from time to time, with the attention especially turned to zippers, cords, and the seams. There could also be a problem with the “durable water repellent”, which could wear off during time, so it is good to ask about some product that will help you repair the DWR.

If you see some feathers that have started to come out, don’t worry too much, it happens, as feathers have sharp bottoms. If you see that some of the feathers have started coming out of your new bag, gently push them back in. Also, there could be a problem with broken zippers or fabric tears. If the tear is not too big, you could sew it up by yourself – which means you should have a needle and the thread in your kit. If you’re not satisfied with your sewing skills, you could ask someone who has a sewing machine to help you once you get back home.

Another option is to use adhesive gear-repair tape to create a patch by cutting it round without sharp edges, but this could lead up to making things worse once you try to remove the patch. You could also use a wound bandage for a smaller repair. But, if the damage is unsolvable on the spot, if the hole is too big, or your zipper has broken, it is better to take it to professionals to take care of it.

Globo Surf Overview

To sum it all up – you should treat your sleeping bag with respect. Take care of it while you’re camping, wash it when you have to, but make sure it is in a good shape as long as possible. Washing sleeping bags is not so hard so don’t avoid it and don’t ignore it. And this article should not only serve you as a guide on how to wash a sleeping bag, but also as a reminder that at the end of the day, once the time comes for you to rewind and think about all the fun things, your sleeping bag provides you the place where you can easily and freely relax and think about all the fun you’ve had so far, and the adventure that lays ahead while keeping you warm along the way.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!