To keep your sleeping bag comfortable and well insulated, you must take care of it.
Once damaged by moisture or eaten away by parasites, it will no longer keep you warm.
So before it’s too late, you should take it out of your storing bag and take care of it.
But how do you wash your sleeping bag and take care of it?
Folding your sleeping bag, not such a good idea.
You may think that folding your bag carefully and storing it in its compression bag is the best way to keep it intact.
Yet, by folding it regularly, you’ll damage the filling and you’ll feel the cold going through the folded areas when you use it and it won’t be very warm anymore.
To keep its volume, we advise you to pack it in its bag without folding it and taking care to loosen all the front tightening strings.
This way the folds will never be in the same places and the filling of your sleeping bag will always be evenly distributed.
This is, therefore, a useful tip to preserve your sleeping bag.
Tips for cleaning and washing your sleeping bag
During your hikes, as soon as you have the opportunity and after each outing, open your sleeping bag and shake it to make it swell and spread its filling.
Then air it out until there is no more moisture.
Finally, if you have space to lay it flat without putting anything on top, this would be ideal.
But if you don’t have enough space, there are other solutions. For example, you can store it in a large mesh bag, usually supplied with your sleeping bag, or alternatively, you can use a large pillowcase.
Store it in a cool, dry place.
After several uses, you can shake and air your sleeping bag, but sometimes nothing can be done about it, it is still smelly.
When your sleeping bag starts to smell unpleasant and has a greasy layer on the inner fabric, the only solution is to wash it.
Here are a few tips on how to care for and wash your sleeping bag.
First of all, you should be aware that if the filling of your sleeping bag is made of synthetic fibers, frequent washing will cause the filling to lose volume.
This means that the insulation will not be as good.
On the other hand, if your sleeping bag contains down, a good wash will make it puffy again.
You can also choose to only partially wash it to avoid wearing it out too quickly.
Most of the time, the collar and hood areas will be the greasiest because of perspiration.
Washing a sleeping bag
To help with this rather delicate task, here are a few tips for maintaining and washing your sleeping bag.
The first thing to do before getting started is to check the label on your sleeping bag, whether it’s filled with down or synthetic fibers, to find out whether or not it can be put in the washing machine.
So you will have two options: hand wash or machine wash.
If your sleeping bag is really dirty, it’s a good idea to soak it for a few hours in lukewarm soapy water and brush the dirtiest parts.
Then press it down with the palms of your hands so that the water penetrates the fabric and the detergent works deeper.
If you have a down sleeping bag, use a detergent that is suitable for this type for best results and to avoid damaging your sleeping bag (my recommendation is to use Nikwax Down Wash Direct).
Finally, rinse your sleeping bag well.
If you choose to use the washing machine, insert your sleeping bag inside out into the washing machine.
Once you have chosen the specific program for washing delicate laundry, run your machine at 30°C.
And the little trick that prevents the filling of your sleeping bag from forming large balls is to put tennis balls (three or four) in the washing machine.
Of course, you have understood by now that to keep your sleeping bag in good condition for many years, it is advisable to wash it regularly but not too often.
Drying: a delicate stage
This last step must be carried out with great care.
You can dry your sleeping bag in the tumble-dryer, always with the tennis balls, and finish drying in the open air on a flat surface.
If you are not using the tumble dryer, open your sleeping bag and lay it out on a flat surface in the open air, outside if possible.
Remember to turn it over from time to time and distribute the filling evenly.
Once your bag is dry, it can be stored for your next hike.
Additional tips for washing and caring for your sleeping bag
- Aerate your sleeping bag frequently.
- Avoid washing it too frequently (once a year should be enough).
- Sleeping bags with coatings will retain optimum insulation if you turn them inside out when storing.
- Repair tears before washing.
- Close all zippers, and Velcro.
- Use special detergent for down and a different one for synthetic fibers.
- Never use fabric softener.
- Wash your sleeping bag alone, separately from your clothes or sheets.
- Rinse the sleeping bag at least twice if hand wash.
- If hand wash the sleeping bag do it in a bathtub.
- Exhaust the air from the sleeping bag and leave to soak for about an hour when handwashing in a bathtub.
- Do not twist the sleeping bag to wring it out.
- Sleeping bags made of synthetic fibers dry easily when laid out in the fresh air.
- Down sleeping bags dry faster in a large tumble dryer at 40 degrees. Add at least 3 tennis balls to the dryer.
- If you dry your down sleeping bag outdoors, make sure you shake it at least every 30 minutes to prevent feathers from sticking together.
- Do not expose your sleeping bag to strong sunlight or high temperatures.