How to Wash a Sleeping Bag
If you use your sleeping bag on a regular basis, you will know how quickly stains and odours can build up. Using a sleeping bag for camping trips can leave it susceptible to mildew, while everyday backpacking can still lave it exposed to body oils and sweat.
How to Wash a Sleeping Bag
Although sleeping bags are not suitable for hand washing or dry cleaning, they can be effectively laundered in conventional washing machines. Below, you will find a quick guide on how to get the best results when machine washing and drying your sleeping bag.
Use the Right Type of Washing Machine
Using the right type of washer is important to ensure you are cleaning your sleeping properly. A front loading washing machine is the only option when it comes to cleaning a sleeping bag. Front-loading washers are commonplace in laundromats and the standard in most European countries. Unlike a top-loading washing machine, a front loader lacks an agitate element. The agitator of a top-loader machine can easily damage the insulation of down sleeping bags and synthetic sleeping bags. You should avoid overstuffing the drum of a machine, so never add more than one bag when loading the washer. If you want to balance the load, add a few lighter items to wash alongside your sleeping bag.
When it comes to selecting settings, always refer to the care instructions attached to your sleeping bag. However, some best practice applies to all types of sleeping bags. Avoid warm water when possible and always go for a colder water temperatures and a gentle rinse cycle.
Selecting the Right Type of Laundry Detergent
To get a good cleaning result when washing sleeping bags, you need to think carefully about the kind of detergent you are using. If you are looking to launder down sleeping bags, you should always go for a detergent that has been specially manufactured for this purpose. Products like Nikwax Down Wash are a good option. If you are instead looking to launder synthetic sleeping bags, you will find plenty of suitable products on the market. Woolite and other less aggressive detergent soap products are always a good bet. Once the washing cycle has finished, you should then let leave your sleeping bag in for an additional spin cycle. This will ensure any stubborn grime and laundry detergent has been removed from the fabric of your sleeping bag liner and shell. It was also ensure as much excess water as possible is removed, making the dry process far easier.
Drying a Sleeping Bag
Drying your sleeping bag is relatively straightforward. When possible, you should avoid using a domestic dryer and high heat settings. You should always aim to air dry your sleeping bag when possible. Air-drying does take longer than using a tumble dryer, but it will protect the insulation and shell material of your sleeping bag from unnecessary damage. To speed up the process, you should hang your sleeping bag in direct sunlight. If you do want to use a machine to dry your sleeping bag, take it to a laundromat and use a commercial dryer. Always put the dryer on a gentle cycle and opt for a low heat setting. Regularly checking the progress of drying is also a good idea. When your sleeping bag is nearly dry, you can also add tennis balls to the drum to break up any clumping that has built up in the insulation material. Obviously, you will want to use clean tennis balls to save you having to launder the whole thing from scratch.