How To Wash A Sleeping Bag

As is the case with all bedding items, it’s a good idea to clean your sleeping bag every once in a while. 

While this process can vary from one sleeping bag to another due to the fact that each sleeping bag comes with their own separate cleaning instructions, there are a number of useful washing tips that apply to all products.  

How To Wash A Sleeping Bag

With this in mind, our guide will take a closer look at some of the main dos and don’t when it comes to washing a sleeping bag. What’s more, we’ll also look to answer a few of the frequently asked questions. 

Hand-Washing A Sleeping Bag 

  • To begin the hand-washing process, fill a bath with either lukewarm or cold water, and add a small amount of mild fabric soap. Try to avoid using harsh detergents that contain either bleaches or brighteners.
  • Thoroughly stir the soap through the water and then lie your sleeping bag (fully zipped up) as flat as possible in the bath.
  • Step into the bath with your bare feet and submerge the sleeping bag in the soapy water by walking up and down it, making sure the solution works its way through all of the filling.
  • Once you’ve done this, empty the soapy bathwater and refill with fresh water. Repeat the process of submerging the bag in the water in order to remove all of the soap. 
  • When you’re satisfied that all of the soap has been removed from the sleeping bag, drain the water and start rolling up the sleeping bag to squeeze as much water as you can out of it before drying. 
  • When it comes to drying, don’t ever wring or twist your sleeping bag as this can lead to the filling lumping together. 
How To Wash A Sleeping Bag

Machine Washing A Sleeping Bag 

If you’re not a particularly hands-on person, and would therefore prefer not to hand-wash your sleeping bag, you can just as easily take it to your local launderette instead. 

Listed below are some of the important considerations to keep in mind when machine washing your sleeping bag. 

  • Before doing anything, it’s essential that you check your sleeping bag is suitable for a machine wash. If so, make sure that you set the washing machine to a delicate wash (on a cold water option). 
  • Place your sleeping bag in the machine (unzipped with the zip around halfway up the mechanism). 
  • If you want to avoid the stuffing of your sleeping bag lumping together during the wash, it’s a good idea to add in a couple of tennis balls as these can bounce freely around in the cycle. 
  • One hugely important thing to keep in mind is to never use fabric softener as this can damage your sleeping bag.
  • When the wash cycle is finished, run your sleeping bag through another rinse cycle to make sure that all the soapy residue is removed. 
  • If there’s soap still present after this rinse cycle, put it through another one, but if all the soap has been successfully washed out, take the sleeping bag out of the machine and lay it flat on a table. 
  • Allow some of the excess water to stream from the bag and line the floor with either towels or newspaper to soak it up. 
  • As was the case with hand-washing, make sure you don’t scrunch up or wring your sleeping bag after it’s been washed as this can cause clumping and damage the filling. 
How To Wash A Sleeping Bag

Drying A Sleeping Bag

There are a couple of options available to you when it comes to drying your sleeping bag. The easiest method is to hang it out unzipped on a washing line. 

However, with this method, you’ll need to make sure that the weather is going to be completely dry, as the sleeping bag needs to be out to dry for at least 20 to 24 hours.

Another method is to pop your sleeping bag into a tumble dryer on a low heat. Making sure that the heat setting is on low is essential because higher temperatures will melt the synthetic fabrics and fibers. 

Furthermore, it’s equally important to check the label of your sleeping bag to ensure that it’s suitable for tumble drying. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are Sleeping Bag Liners Worth It? 

The vast majority of people only wash their sleeping bags a handful of times a year once they become a little smelly and dirty. If, however, you use your sleeping bag on a consistent basis, there’s every chance that you’ll need to wash it every couple of months. 

If this is the case, investing in a sleeping bag liner will allow you to keep your sleeping bag cleaner for longer. These useful liners come in a wide range of different fabrics, but the most popular are silk and cotton liners. 

Cotton liners are the cheaper option and are ideal for keeping your sleeping bag clean at a low cost. On the other hand, silk liners are a little more expensive, but offer top-end insulation, as well as excellent compatibility for nice and straightforward travelling. 

How Long Do Sleeping Bags Last? 

This all depends on the type of material and the amount you use your sleeping bag. While it’s difficult to provide an accurate expiry date, the correct care can maintain the quality of a sleeping bag for at least a few years.

The fluffiness or loft of a sleeping bag is what creates the warmth as it traps heat between the fibers.  However, the longer this material is compressed, the less chance it has of bouncing back to its original shape. 

Is It Better To Stuff Or Roll A Sleeping Bag? 

Most sleeping bags are designed to be stuffed when packed, not rolled. Irrespective of whether it contains down or synthetic fill, stuffing a sleeping bag will usually remove more of the air for a more efficient packed size. 

Eric Willis
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