How to Clean a Sleeping Bag: A Comprehensive Guide

how to clean a sleeping bag guide

Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the great outdoors.

One of the most important pieces of equipment for any camping trip is a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags keep you warm and comfortable while you sleep under the stars.

However, after a few camping trips, your sleeping bag can start to get dirty and smelly. Cleaning your sleeping bag is important to ensure it lasts for many more camping trips to come.

When it comes to cleaning a sleeping bag, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • First, it’s important to read the care instructions that came with your sleeping bag. Different materials require different cleaning methods, so make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you start cleaning.
  • Second, it’s important to take your time and be gentle when cleaning your sleeping bag. Rough handling can damage the insulation and reduce the effectiveness of your sleeping bag.


tips cleaning sleeping bag

Cleaning a sleeping bag can be a daunting task, but with proper preparation, it can be a relatively simple process.

Before you start, make sure you have the following materials:

  • A bathtub or large sink
  • A mild, non-detergent soap specifically designed for sleeping bags
  • A soft-bristled brush or sponge
  • A clean, dry towel
  • A large, well-ventilated area to dry the sleeping bag

It is important to note that washing a sleeping bag too frequently can damage the insulation, so it is recommended to only wash it when it is visibly dirty or after extended use.

Before washing your sleeping bag, it is important to check the care label for specific instructions. Some sleeping bags may require special care or professional cleaning.

It is also recommended to spot clean any visible stains or heavily soiled areas before washing the entire sleeping bag. This will help prevent the spread of dirt and avoid the need for excessive washing.

Read later – What is a Sleeping Bag Liner?

Hand Washing Method

Hand washing your sleeping bag can be a good option if you don’t have access to a washing machine or if your sleeping bag is delicate and requires a gentle wash.

hand washing sleeping bag

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Fill a clean bathtub or sink with cool or lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water as it can damage the insulation and fabric of your sleeping bag.
  2. Add a mild, non-detergent soap or a specialized sleeping bag cleaner to the water. Follow the instructions on the product label for the recommended amount.
  3. Gently submerge your sleeping bag in the water and agitate it by hand to distribute the soap evenly. Avoid scrubbing or twisting the fabric as it can damage the insulation and reduce the loft.
  4. Drain the soapy water and refill the tub or sink with clean water. Rinse the sleeping bag thoroughly to remove all the soap residue.
  5. Squeeze out the excess water from the sleeping bag gently. Avoid wringing or twisting the fabric as it can damage the insulation and reduce the loft.
  6. Hang the sleeping bag to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources as they can damage the fabric and insulation. You can also lay the sleeping bag flat on a clean towel to dry.

Hand washing your sleeping bag can take longer than machine washing, but it is a gentle and effective method that can help prolong the life of your sleeping bag.

Make sure to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer and avoid using fabric softeners or bleach as they can damage the fabric and insulation.

Machine Washing Method

If your sleeping bag is machine washable, it can be a quick and easy way to clean it.

However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use a front-loading washing machine without an agitator. A top-loading washing machine with an agitator can damage the sleeping bag’s insulation and fabric.

machine washing sleeping bag

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Before washing, close all zippers and fasten any Velcro tabs to prevent snagging or tearing.
  • Set the washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water.
  • Use a mild detergent that is specifically designed for washing sleeping bags. Do not use fabric softeners or bleach.
  • Place the sleeping bag in the washing machine and add a few clean towels to balance the load.
  • Run the washing machine through the cycle and then run it through a second rinse cycle to ensure all the detergent is removed.
  • Remove the sleeping bag from the washing machine and gently squeeze out any excess water. Do not wring or twist the bag as this can damage the insulation.
  • Hang the sleeping bag up to air dry, or place it in a large commercial dryer on a low heat setting. Add a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls to help fluff up the insulation.

It’s important to note that machine washing can still cause damage to the sleeping bag over time, and it’s recommended to only wash it when absolutely necessary.

If the sleeping bag is heavily soiled or has an odor that won’t come out, it may be time to consider a professional cleaning service.

Also helpful – How to Determine Sleeping Bag Rating

Drying Method

After washing your sleeping bag, it’s important to dry it properly to prevent any damage or mold growth.

Here are some methods to dry your sleeping bag:

  • Air-drying: The best way to dry your sleeping bag is to hang it on a clothesline or lay it flat on a clean surface in a well-ventilated area. Make sure to turn it over every few hours to ensure that both sides dry evenly. This method takes longer but it’s gentle on the fabric and fill.
  • Tumble-drying: If you’re in a hurry, you can use a dryer to dry your sleeping bag. Set the dryer on low heat and add two or three clean tennis balls or wool dryer balls to help fluff up the fill and prevent clumping. Check the sleeping bag every 15 minutes and remove it from the dryer when it’s almost dry to avoid overheating and melting the fabric or fill.
  • Sun-drying: You can also dry your sleeping bag under the sun, but avoid direct sunlight as it can fade the color and weaken the fabric. Hang it in a shaded area and turn it over frequently to prevent one side from getting too hot. This method is only recommended for synthetic sleeping bags as exposure to UV light can damage down fill.

Regardless of the drying method you choose, make sure your sleeping bag is completely dry before storing it. Any remaining moisture can lead to mildew or odor.

It may take several hours or even days to dry your sleeping bag depending on the method you choose and the weather conditions. Don’t rush the process and always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Storage Tips

storage sleeping bag after washing

Proper storage of your sleeping bag is important to maintain its quality and extend its lifespan.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Store your sleeping bag in a dry and cool place. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or damp areas as it can damage the material and cause mold or mildew to grow.
  • Avoid keeping your sleeping bag compressed for long periods of time. This can cause the insulation to break down and lose its loft, which will reduce its warmth and comfort. Instead, store it in a loose and breathable storage bag or hang it up in a closet.
  • Before storing your sleeping bag, make sure it is completely dry. Even a small amount of moisture can cause mold or mildew to grow, which can ruin your sleeping bag.
  • If you have a down sleeping bag, store it loosely in a large storage bag or hang it up in a closet. Avoid compressing it too much as this can damage the down insulation and reduce its warmth.
  • If you have a synthetic sleeping bag, you can compress it more tightly for storage. However, it’s still a good idea to store it in a breathable storage bag or hang it up in a closet to maintain its loft and quality.

By following these storage tips, you can ensure that your sleeping bag stays in good condition and provides you with a comfortable night’s sleep for years to come.

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