How to Clean Sleeping Bags

How to Clean Sleeping BagsCleaning your sleeping bag, at least annually, helps improve its ability to insulate you from the cold by removing dust, dirt and body oils that work their way into the bag's insulation. The best way to clean your sleeping bag is at a commercial, coin-op, laundry facility that has large front-loading washers. Washing a sleeping bag in a top-loading washer can cause damage to the bag, because it can wrap and twist around the center hub.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
 
tennis balls
  • Laundry facility with large, front-loading, washing machines
  • Mild laundry soap with no detergents
  • 6 tennis balls or a clean pair of tennis shoes
  • Towel
 
Step 1
Check the instructions on your bag. Every sleeping bag has a tag attached to it that includes the manufacturer's instructions for washing the bag. Defer to these instructions if any of the steps listed here are in conflict with them.
Step 2
Unzip the sleeping bag, which will allow the soapy water to pass through the bag easier, carrying the dirt and grime away with it. Move the slider halfway back along the zipper track in order to protect it from coming off the end of the track during the washer and dryer cycles.
Step 3
Set up the washing machine. If the machine has one, use the gentle cycle, and wash in warm water. Cold water is not effective at loosening dirt and oils from your bag's insulation, and hot water can damage your bag's waterproof coating.
Step 4
Load the washing machine. Place your bag into the washing machine and add the soap, following the instructions on the machine.
Step 5
Run a second rinse cycle. Before the machine begins its spin cycle, stop the washer and re-run the rinse cycle. This will help remove all of the soap from inside your bag's insulation. Excess soap inside the insulation could hinder the loft of the material and reduce its ability to keep you warm.
Step 6
Remove your sleeping bag from the washing machine. Use caution when picking up your wet sleeping bag because the stitching on the bag may not be able to support the additional weight of the water and may rip. Reach into the washer and fold the ends of the bag toward the middle. Lift with your hands and arms underneath the bag, like a big bundle.
Step 7
Load the dryer. Place the bag into the dryer, and add the tennis balls or tennis shoes. These will help fluff your bag by working out clumped pockets of insulation. Add a towel to help reduce static electricity, which will also help fluff your bag.
Step 8
Dry the sleeping bag. Set the dryer on its lowest temperature setting and plan on plenty of time for the bag to dry. Check your bag periodically to ensure that it is not getting too hot. It should only be warm to the touch.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Extend the life of your sleeping bag by storing it flat and unrolled under your bed.
 
Avoid using any kind of detergents on your sleeping bag, because they can breakdown the waterproof coating. Sleeping bags can take hours to dry, but do not leave your bag unattended at a public laundry facility.
 
Avoid using any kind of detergents on your sleeping bag, because they can breakdown the waterproof coating.
 
Sleeping bags can take hours to dry, but do not leave your bag unattended at a public laundry facility.

Article Written By Roy Scribner

Roy Scribner is based in Silicon Valley, where he writes about outdoor recreation topics for various online media outlets, while moonlighting as the business development manager for a defense aerospace firm. Roy and family are avid RV'rs and campers, averaging 5,000 miles every year in the Western United States.

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