How to Wash a Sleeping Bag – Learning the Basics

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Trekking is fun, especially with wear the right attire. Depending on the temperature of the area you are visiting, camping requires unique clothing to keep you warm, more so during the chilly nights. A sleeping bag is of huge importance for campers. But do you know how to wash a sleeping bag? Well, this might present some challenges for many people. That’s why I am here to help.

When the bag gets dirty, it loses its warmth, and this highly affects your comfort. Fortunately, there are multiple ways of maintaining a clean sleeping bag, but the item’s frequency of cleaning remains a challenge to some people. All in all, you can clean it yearly, since the bag is a product of rare use.

In this article, I will cover different types of cleaning associated with sleeping bag care. However, you will not only learn how to clean a sleeping bag, but I will also speak about the ideal item storage procedure. Lastly, drying is also a vital necessity that I shall cover in detail in the upcoming sections.

How to Clean a Sleeping Bag

The cleaning process depends on a number of factors, with the most important one being the type of bag you own. Synthetic sleeping bags are easy to wash, but the same cannot be said of down bags. Down bags require attention and extra care, and it might compel many people to look for professional help. However, with the right information, it is possible to clean the piece.

  • Spot cleaning your bag

At times, your sleeping bag might not be too dirty for a thorough cleaning, and in such a case, I recommend you wash the dirty spots. Bear in mind that regular cleaning might result in your bag’s wear and tear, and it can deprive it of its high comfortability.

During spot cleaning, you only need a brush and some soapy water. Gently remove dirt from the piece, while mainly focus on areas where oils tend to accumulate. This way, it is possible to wash your bag without wetting the interior. I highly advise you to practice spot cleaning often before performing a full-wash.

  • Full washing

Once you notice your bag is losing its loft, then you need to undertake a full-wash. In this case, you should follow the guidelines on the manufacturer’s manual. If the process looks complicated, you can always seek professional laundry service to help you with the task.

Ensure the process isn’t much costly and aim to achieve the best value for your money. For those who might want to clean the piece without the help of a washing machine, make sure you dry your bag to perfection. Additionally, you should use the approved soap for both down and synthetic sleeping bags.

Essential Precautions to Take

Below is a list of what to avoid in the process of cleaning your sleeping bag. These actions, when done, might lead to the damage of your bag or decrease its efficiency in terms of warmth retention.

  • Avoid dry cleaning your bag. The chemicals used in the process will make your bag lose its loft and negatively affect the piece’s comfort and warmth.
  • Do not use bleach.
  • Only wash your bag in a top-loading machine without an agitator.

How To Hand Wash a Sleeping Bag

Given the bag’s big size, you should clean it in a tub. Below are the steps to follow for optimal cleaning results.

  • Use either cool or warm water, as you like. But it is crucial to choose the appropriate detergent or soap.
  • Additionally, you should add the right amount of soap as using it in excess will pose rinsing challenges.
  • Add the bag and gently clean to cover all parts with soap. Concentrate on the dirty edges first and soak the bag for about one hour.
  • Empty the tub and drain the excess water from the bag.
  • Once again, add warm water into the tub. Place your bag in and rinse. Drain the excess water and repeat the process until the sleeping bag is free of soap.
  • Drain all water in the bag, and seek help in case the bag is huge.
  • Use a drier as it is time-saving and highly efficient.
  • However, if you might want to dry the bag under the sun, you should ensure you place it on a leveled surface.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag in a Washing Machine

One huge advantage of sleeping bags is that most of them are suitable for machine washing. However, you must wash them in a machine without an agitator, a requirement that might pose slight challenges.

The major problem with most of the agitator-lacking devices is their relatively small size, implying that you might not clean the bag as thoroughly as you want. All in all, when machine washing your sleeping bag, it is vital first to identify if it is machine washable. If it is, you are ready to start.

  • It is vital to consult your instruction guide before starting.
  • Detergent selection is very important here. Ensure you find the appropriate soap for your down sleeping bag. For synthetic ones, I highly recommend you use Nikwax Hardshell Cleaning and Waterproofing Duo-Pack. This water-based detergent is ideal as it maintains your bag’s breathability and improves its water impermeability.
  • Follow the instruction manual and add warm or cold water into the machine. Use the right soap proportions to avoid rinsing problems.
  • After cleaning your bag for some minutes, you should rinse it severally for optimal soap removal.
  • Gently drain the remaining water.
  • Expect your synthetic bag to be dry in 60 minutes, but down bags will require additional hours.

How to Wash a Big Heavy Sleeping Bag

You should use a washing machine for your big sleeping bag as hand washing might be more tiring and less effective. However, before settling on your big sleeping bag full laundry, you should consider spot cleaning as it’s an effective way of keeping your bag dirt-free.

It is also easy to achieve and less tiring. All in all, if you need a full wash, the size of the machine you are to use becomes a vital concern. The cleaning procedure is similar to the one desribed above, although there are some special requirements and considerations.

Choosing a sizeable machine for your bag will result in a thorough cleaning. When adding soap, ensure you input a relatively small amount as adding soap in excess will pose a challenge when rinsing the bag.

Finally, bear in mind that heavy sleeping bags will take some hours to dry, and I recommend you use a drier due to its unmatched efficiency. Additionally, avoid using liquid detergents as they tend to leave residues.

How to Wash a Cotton Sleeping Bag

You shouldn’t regularly wash your cotton sleeping bags, as they tend to shrink upon drying. Ideal cleaning, however, helps remove all stains and dirt, thus prolonging the bag’s period of use. That said, here are the cleaning steps for cotton bags you should follow.

  • A cotton bag is suitable for machine washing. Put it into the machine and select the right load size.
  • Use cold water and the instructed detergent quantity while setting the machine according to the instructions in the manual.
  • Dry the bag after washing is complete and iron it to remove the wrinkles that might have formed.

When cleaning a cotton sleeping bag, you must use the recommended bleach quantity, for optimal stains removal. Finally, pay attention to the stated care guidelines as cotton contains a mix of several fabrics.

Sleeping Bag Care Tips

Ideal drying and storage are essential after sleeping bag cleaning. Here are my best tips that can help you use your bag for a long time. Most of them can help keep your bag clean for longer, and proper drying is the most important one.

Choosing the Ideal Sleeping Bag Drying Method

Air drying is cheaper though less effective as it is climate dependent. The biggest disadvantage is that if the bag fails to dry on the first day, there is a likelihood of your garment attracting some foul odor.

When air drying, hang the bag ideally and unzip it. It can take about 24 hours for the piece to dry. However, air drying highly depends on temperature levels, and this takes us to the second option – using a drier.

Bear in mind that high heat can melt synthetic fabric, and using the machine on low heat is vital. You can use tennis balls to prevent clump formation. Lastly, the manufacturer indicates if the item is suitable for machine drying, and you should check this information before you start the process.

Using a Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag liners are useful items that help keep the bag clean for prolonged use. They mainly consist of cotton or silk, and they are also an ideal way of adding comfort to your bag. When choosing the perfect liner, you should pay attention to these differences between silk and cotton liners.

  • Silk liners offer the maximum insulation, although they are slightly costly. They considerably increase your bag’s warmth, and they are ideal for conveyance, thanks to their lightweight design.
  • Cotton liners are also affordable. They are also easy to clean, and they perfectly relieve you of the hard task of washing your bag.

Sleeping In Clean Clothes

After a daylong hike, you will be sweaty, and your clothes will have collected considerable amounts of dirt. It is, therefore, important to keep your sleeping attire clean and develop a habit of wiping your face before sleeping. This reduces the rate of oil deposition on the bag’s surface, an act that will help keep your bag cleaner for long.

Sleeping Bag Storage

Ideal storage boosts your bag’s durability. Always air your bag after use to ensure it’s free of moisture when storing. Many manufacturers and sellers include a storage sack when you buy a sleeping bag. It is big enough to hold your bag loosely without compressing it. If you didn’t get the storage sack, purchase one separately, or sew a sizeable one that fits your bag.

Stuff sacks that are mainly ideal for conveyance aren’t suitable for sleeping bag storage purposes, as they can compress your bag, and it will be damaged. Additionally, storing in water-proof sacks results in mildew; that’s why such sacks are not options.

Sleeping Bag Cleaning at a Glance

Proper sleeping bag care is essential as it boosts your bag’s resilience while keeping the item comfy for long. The basics of the product’s care involve cleaning, drying, and storing. If you take care of these aspects, you are likely to feel more comfortable when using a sleeping bag.

However, it is advisable to avoid regular cleaning as this will make the bag lose its loft. Using the right detergent is also a vital necessity, as some leave residues after cleaning. I don’t recommend using bleaches because they may damage your sleeping bag.

When washing, you should add the required amount of soap because excess amounts will pose a huge rinsing challenge. When cleaning cotton sleeping bags, you should use proper amounts of bleaches and soak the product. Also, you should read the manual before machine washing or hand-cleaning your sleeping bag.

You should use a drier due to its time-saving features and the utmost efficiency. Lastly, you need to handle the zippers perfectly as it is a vital necessity during sleeping bag care. A common challenge you might experience here is the frustration of using a two-way zipper. A two-way zipper mainly snugs, and if uncarefully handled, it can cause fabric tear.

Can you recommend some appropriate way of restoring your synthetic or down sleeping bag’s loft? Share your opinion in the comment section below.

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