Washing a sleeping bag is important - but it must be done properly. Washing it incorrectly can ruin your bag, or at least decrease its warmth and shorten its life.
Of course, you want your sleeping bag to smell good and feel great - but washing a sleeping bag is important for another reason: to prolong its life.
Some people never wash their sleeping bags - ever! - in the mistaken
belief that this is best for the bag. They are wrong. Eventually, dirt
and body oils will build up, lowering the insulation value of the bag.
Washing a sleeping bag is a bit of a hassle - and it's actually not good for the bag to do it more than necessary!
You can keep your sleeping bag fairly clean for long periods by using a sleeping bag liner or by sleeping in clean pajamas or long underwear.
Wipe it with a damp cloth and then hang it to dry.
If you're a typical camper, wash it about once a year. If you are a hardcore camper and use your sleeping bag every night for months, you might need to wash it more often.
Down sleeping bags require extra care. The information on this page does not apply to down bags.
You might be tempted to take your sleeping bag to the drycleaners and let them deal with it. Don't do it! Dry cleaning will destroy your bag's synthetic fill.
The good news is that cleaning a synthetic sleeping bag is fairly straightforward. You'll be able to do it yourself easily by following these simple instructions.
Don't use a top loading washing machine. A sleeping bag can get tangled up and ripped on the agitator. (That's the big sticky-uppy thing in the middle of a top loader.)
If you own a front loader and if you are washing smaller sleeping bags (like youth sleeping bags or summer bags), great! You can do the job at home.
If you don't have a front loader, or if you are washing bulky sleeping bags, make a trip to the laundromat and use the heavy duty commercial washers.
Don't use powdered detergent. Use a regular liquid laundry soap, or try Nikwax Tech Wash. Nikwax is recommended by some sleeping bag manufacturers. It cleans thoroughly and gently, and leaves no residue.
When the wash cycle is finished, carefully transfer the bag to a dryer.
you're at the laundromat, double check to see that the dryer has a "low
heat" option and that it doesn't overheat.
Many commercial dryers have just one temperature: extra hot! Excessive heat will melt the fibers in your bag.
The towel will absorb water and speed drying time.
If you prefer, you can air dry your synthetic bag by hanging it in a warm dry spot.
Correctly washing a sleeping bag is not hard to do, and it will keep your sleeping bag looking good, smelling great and keeping you warm for years to come!