AdviceBag Advice

Can You Wash Sleeping Bags? – Best Cleaning Practices

Yes! You can wash your sleeping bag, and it’s advisable to do so at least once every year. This is because sleeping bags can succumb to wear and tear if they are cleaned regularly.

Growing up in a camping family, my love and knowledge for camping started at an early age. If you are a camping enthusiast, I assume that you already know a sleeping bag is one of the most valuable camping resources.

This is because your sleeping bag can be the difference between a warm and comfortable night’s sleep or a long shivering night on the ground when out camping. It’s for this reason why you need to care for your sleeping bag appropriately.

Cleaning is one of the best ways to ensure you have a well-maintained sleeping bag. The frequency at which your bag requires cleaning will depend on how often you use the bag. For instance, a person who camps out every weekend would need to clean their sleeping bag more often in a year.

This isn’t the same with people who only use their sleeping bags in-between months after a long time. And while there are professional services to help you clean the bags, you can also do it at home.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag?

After using your bag for a while, it may start to darken with grime or lose its loft (fluffiness). At this point, you should know that your bag (whether down or synthetic) requires a good wash.

With that in mind, here are some ways you can use to clean your sleeping bag:

1. Hand-Washing

a woman hand-washing a sleeping bag
Image Credit: Outdoor With J

This is my favorite cleaning method, and it’s one of the most straightforward ways of washing your sleeping bag. However, hand-washing your camping bag does require taking some precautions.

First, check the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning your bag. The instructions are usually printed or located on your bag’s tag or the draft tube. To ensure you clean your bag appropriately, ensure you follow those instructions in detail.

Also, ensure that you use a mild, non-detergent soap that is meant for washing down and synthetic-filled materials. This will prevent your sleeping bag from experiencing wear and tear or lose its loft.

2. Machine Washing

sleeping bag in a washing machine
Image Credit: Bushcraftable

Before even proceeding with this method, you need to ascertain if your bag is machine washable. This information is also printed somewhere on your sleeping bag, where the bag’s manufacturer indicates if it’s machine washable or not.

If it is, ensure your washing machine is set to “delicate-wash” and on a cold water option. Unzip your sleeping bag halfway, and load it into your washing machine. Don’t add fabric-softener because it can damage your sleeping bag.

After the first wash is finished, run your sleeping bag through another rinse cycle to eliminate any soapy residue. Run your bag through as many rinse cycles as possible to ensure there are no soap residues on it.

Avoid any form of dry-cleaning your bag because the industrial solvents used in this process are harsh, and can damage the loft nature of your sleeping bag.

3. Spot Cleaning

spot cleaning with a toothbrush
Image Credit: REI

Before washing your entire bag, you should first consider spot cleaning it. This is because it’s mostly the interior lining at your bag’s head and foot that tends to get seemingly dirty. Moreover, it’s very simple to spot clean your camping bag:

1. Apply a small amount of the appropriate cleaning soap on the area of interest.

2. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently clean the dirty area.

3. Finally rinse the spot using a damp/wet sponge.

READ ALSO: Can You Recycle Ziploc Bags?

How to Dry a Sleeping Bag?

Down-filled sleeping bags usually take longer to dry compared to synthetic sleeping bags. That said, here are some tips for drying synthetic or down sleeping bags:

  • Utilize Commercial-size Dryers – Commercial dryers feature large capacities that can allow fully-lofted bags to tumble and dry easier and faster.
  • Dryer on Low-Heat – Another useful tip for drying sleeping bags is setting the dryer on low heat. While your bag may take longer to dry, high heat can easily melt the delicate nylon fabrics on your sleeping bag.
  • Run Drying Cycles – Run your bag through multiple drying cycles to completely dry.

Final Thoughts

While you can wash sleeping bags, it’s important to take the necessary precautions. This is to avoid any damage to one of your most essential camping resources. If the process seems overwhelming, you can always pay for professional services.

Either way, cleaning your sleeping bag is highly essential for a good night’s sleep when camping. Therefore, employ ways that you believe suit you best to care for your sleeping bag.