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How to Clean a Sleeping Bag

Despite the best of precautions and careful use, there eventually comes a time when your sleeping bag is due for a thorough wash. Extensive outdoor use requires the bag to not only be in good condition, but also be inviting enough to offer you a comfortable sleep. Regular hikers and campers know that cleaning a sleeping bag requires no great expertise or past experience. The best idea is to follow the cleaning instructions of the manufacturer, which are usually printed on the product package. But just in case you need a little help, here are few tried and tested tips for cleaning a sleeping bag... 

Make sure you note the type of filling used in the bag before washing your sleeping bag at all as heavy, down-filled bags are best cleaned with professional help.


Wash and Rinse

Your sleeping bag can usually either be hand- or machine-washed, depending on the method indicated on the label. Not all bags are strong or compatible enough to handle a machine wash so check the label to see which method is best to use. It’s also a great idea to spot clean, just before the full wash, as this helps pay extra attention to patches of dirt that tend to form, especially on the collar or the hood of the bag.

Another key thing to note is which detergents are recommended (if any) on the label or the instructions that sometimes come with sleeping bags. This makes sure that cleaning is done effectively without damaging the filling or the shell. Nikwax is a specialist cleaning brand and sell various products for cleaning specific items such as down wash and general tech wash which can be used with synthetic bags. 


Care should also be taken to dry the bag, especially with down-filling, as it tends to clump together. It is important to manually level out the clumps to ensure that all portions of the bag dry well. So once washed, take the time to smooth out the bag and check the filling is evenly spread and laid out. Then lie flat somewhere to fully dry through.


Loosely pack a dry sleeping bag into cotton carry bags or simply wrap them in a clean bed sheet, but never within a compressed pack. Leaving your sleeping bag in its stuff sack can be damaging to the fibres so make sure your sleeping bag is allowed to be fairly loosely stored to maximise its lifespan.

Key Things to Avoid When Caring For Your Sleeping Bag

  • Normal washing machines; they aren't equipped to handle sleeping bags.
  • Dry cleaning and bleaching are taboo. Harmful residues may not only damage the bag but also affect the user. Strong detergents also can cause skin irritations.
  • Irrespective of synthetic or down fills or the type of shells, excessive heat is bound to damage the bag. Using hot water for cleaning, or drying out the bag in hot air or even directly under the sun may cause the shells to melt or fillings to shrink. So avoid excessive heat exposure at all costs.
  • Most often, it may be necessary to squeeze out excess water after the wash, before drying the sleeping bag. It is important not to wring the bag, but rather roll it to press out any water logged in the filling. One good trick is to use old dry towels rolled into the bag as you roll it as they tend to absorb the moisture.
  • Don’t get into your sleeping bag in dirty clothes, changing into suitable clothing when possible is a really good way to help prevent as much dirt and grime from accumulating on the inside of the bag.
We hope these tips help you to maximise the lifetime of your sleeping bag, new or old. Do you have any other tips and tricks you use to care for yours?