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How to Clean Sleeping Bags


Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about sleeping bags. However, when you want to take a family camping trip, one of the kids wants to attend a sleepover, or you’re moving into a new house and your furniture hasn’t been delivered yet, it’s the sleeping bags that you have stashed away that come out and make that camping trip or sleepover happen or give you a comfortable place to rest until your bed arrives. 

A good sleeping bag can be very useful even if you don’t need to use it very often. What do you do with a sleeping bag that’s dirty? Take a look at some useful tips for cleaning a sleeping bag without damaging it. 


Machine Washing

Machine washing isn’t always an option for sleeping bags, so make sure to check the washing instructions on the tag before throwing your sleeping bag into your machine. If the bag is machine washable, use a gentle cycle, warm water, and the proper cleaning product for your bag. Down filling needs a different cleaning product than synthetic filling. 

When you remove the wet bag from the washer, make sure that you support it at both ends. Otherwise, the weight of the excess water can stretch the bag out of shape and put a strain on the seams. Squeeze out as much water as you can, then move it to the dryer and dry on low heat. You can expect it to take at least an hour to dry a bag with synthetic fill, and down fills can take several hours. Adding a few tennis balls to the dryer if you have a down-filled bag can help prevent the down from clumping and can reduce drying time. 


Spot Cleaning

You may have a bag with a few spots on it, but it’s otherwise pretty clean. If you don’t feel like the whole bag needs to be washed, spot cleaning is an option. Just dab some detergent on the spot, scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and then rinse with a clean wet sponge. 

Try to hold the shell of the bag away from the fill to prevent the fill from getting wet as you’re cleaning. If getting the fill wet is unavoidable, make sure that you give the bag plenty of time to air dry before rolling it back up and returning it to storage. 


Hand Washing

If your bag says not to machine wash, then you may need to hand wash it instead. This can be time-consuming, so wait for a day when you have plenty of time. Fill your bathtub with warm water and detergent, and unzip the bag and turn it inside out. Soak the bag for a few hours, turning and working suds into the bag frequently. 

Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with clean water to rinse the soap out. Work out as much soap as you can, then repeat the process. You’ll probably need to drain and refill the tub several more times before all of the soap is gone. When you drain the tub for the last time, roll the bag into a tight cylinder to squeeze out the excess water. Then transfer it to the dryer if the tag calls for machine drying. If machine drying isn’t possible, spread the bag over a patio lounge chair or netted hammock to dry in the sun.