Cleaning a sleeping bag the right way will ensure your gear is in great shape for years to come. Since we rent camping gear, we’ve spent a lot of time at laundromats with sleeping bags. From cheap imported bags to name-brand mummies, it’s important to know how to wash a sleeping bag to keep it undamaged and maintain its ability to keep you warm and dry.
While some websites will recommend washing a sleeping bag in a bathtub, our preferred method is always an industrial front-loading washing machine. While industrial washing machines make things a lot easier, sometimes you simply don’t have access to a laundromat. In those situations, follow the steps below, and use a well-cleaned bathtub as your ‘washing machine’.
As you learn how to wash a sleeping bag for the first time it’s important not to cut any corners, especially with detergent. Many sleeping bags are made with waterproofing qualities, and most bags are assembled with extremely lightweight materials. When those materials come in contact with abrasive detergents, the waterproof superpowers of the bag will start to fail, and so will the integrity of outer fabric and stitching.
The rules for how to wash a sleeping bag filled with down aren’t that different from the rules for washing a synthetic sleeping bag. The big difference lies (pun intended) in the type detergent used and the necessity of using dryer balls (dryer balls can be used with synthetic bags too, but are even more important with down bags). Follow all of the steps for washing a synthetic bag, but make sure to use a down-friendly detergent (recommendation above), and throw a couple dryer balls in with the bag to continuously break up wet clumps of down while drying. The result will be an even, completely dried fluffy bag.
That’s it. Learning how to wash a sleeping bag correctly isn’t tough, and doing it right will keep your bag clean and ready to go for many adventures to come.