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How to Wash a Sleeping Bag: Yes, Maintenance Is Important! | Keep Your Sleeping Bag Fresh

Do you know how to wash a sleeping bag? Sleeping bags are like a quilt which are made of an insulated covering and used as a portable bedding system. They are lightweight and have a zipper. There is some form of padding on the bottom surface so the person can easily sleep in them when he is outdoors like on camping, trips, hiking or stays. There is a lot of variety in their design types, filling and temperature ratings. Indoor sleeping bags are also available which can be used indoors.

Are you planning to spend a couple of nights in outdoor with your friends and considering tent instead of the room? Then you need to know more about these.

Let’s find out:


There are two basic types when it comes to considering the insulation types.

Down bags insulation:

It is like a light plumage and is one of nature’s finest insulation. It is immediately next to the duck or goose’s skin. Their plumes are composed of ultra-fine fibers and last longer. A good quality down sleeping bags is super warm and cozy making your trips even more comfortable.

They are durable and can last for up to 10 years or more depending on your care and usage. Because of their quality of being compressible, they are ideal for backpacking but they are a little more expensive than synthetic ones.

Synthetic Bags insulation:

Synthetic bags consist of the fill that has short staple fibers and long continuous filaments. They are a good choice for the wet conditions and keep you dry it rains. But, they are less compressible as compared to the down insulation type. They are non-allergenic and dries up quickly. Also, they are less expensive as compared to the down ones.

Many of us will want to have a durable and long lasting sleeping bag to use for many years to come. For that purpose, not only its proper care is essential but its cleaning is also an important factor. There are some methods which can be used for the proper and careful cleaning of the sleeping bags with both types of insulation. But, before that, can we really wash a sleeping bag for its good or not is what we will be discussing.

Is there any harm in washing?

There is no harm in washing a sleeping bag as dirty and used one will develop mold and bacteria which are allergenic to your skin. It may be an inviting place for some insects and pests too. Therefore, it is necessary to get it washed after every time you use it. However, with every wash, it may degrade its life. So, proper methods to take to wash it is necessary.

You can wash them at home or they can be dry-cleaned as well.

Dry cleaning

This is relatively easier for you to do. But, it may include the use of chemicals so they can be harmful. Also, you can air clean it thoroughly to avoid any contamination.

Wash at home

Wash at homeWash at home

There are sleeping bags liquids and soaps available especially intended to wash such types of things. You can purchase them easily from the market and use them for cleaning or washing at home.


So, it is absolutely safe to wash any sleeping bag. However, it is recommended to wash them in the front-loader washing machines as traditional top loader can cause damage to the insulation.

Using a gentle cycle and cool water is good for their wash and proper checking of the other loaded items should be maintained. Also, for down ones, there are separate detergents and for synthetic ones, there are others usually the mild ones. Washing sleeping bags over and over again can greatly affect the quality, durability, and life. So, how often should we wash them is what we are going to discuss next.

How often should you wash your sleeping bag?

It depends on how often you use it. If you are using the same sleeping bag again and again for multiple trips and camping, then it may be necessary for you to wash it after 8-9 times usage. A good system of air is what they usually need. If you had been sleeping in the same bag for more than dozen times, it will start to develop smell which will be an indication that it needs a wash.

But, never over-wash it again and again because all that is going to do is to damage your bag and reduce its efficiency. Also, if you are sweaty, then it may take fewer days to wash it again. Or if you have got a synthetic one and used it in rain. Then, it will definitely need a wash so that any fungus or mold is not developed.

How to wash a sleeping bag?

Washing a sleeping bag is no rocket science and it may be easier than you expect. They can be dry washed, hand washed or machined washed easily at home or at some dry cleaner shop. All you have to do is to take care of their fabric gently. So, let’s discuss how the two types of insulation i.e.  Down and Synthetic sleeping bags can be washed?

Washing a sleeping bag (down type)

Retaining a sleeping bag’s warmth and quality while washing it properly is important. Below, we have discussed how to machine wash and hand wash any of your down sleeping bags.

Machine washing it

Machine washing sleeping bag stepsMachine washing sleeping bag steps

What you will be needing:

  • Some tennis balls
  • Large front loading machine

Now follow these steps to machine wash it:

  • It is advised to run your machine through an empty rinse spin so that it may wash off any soap residues. Also, check if there is anything inside your washing machine that can damage your bag.
  • Now, zip up everything including zippers in the bag and if there is any waterproof shell, make it inside out.
  • Now, place the bag into the machine. Add your technical cleaner in it. Because regular detergents may damage your bag. Set your warm machine wash up to 30°C.
  • After a cycle is completed, check the bag and press it. If there comes out some cleaner then, it needs another spin.
  • Next, take it out from your machine after it is completely washed. It will be heavy and wet so you may need the help of someone to bring it out.
  • Now, set your dryer on the low temperature because high heat will damage its fibers and thus the quality. Place the bag in it.
  • Another extra step which you can take to prevent down clumping is to add tennis balls in the dryer. Also, it will take time to dry it completely so wait patiently until it is done.

Next, we will be discussing how to hand wash a down sleeping bag.

Hand washing it

For this case, you will have to follow these steps in your bath.

  • Wash your bath and rinse it thoroughly before getting it filled up with a warm water.
  • Take your fabric softener or cleaner or down cleaner and add it to the water until completely distributed.
  • Make sure all zippers and Velcro tabs are secured.
  • Now, put it in the mixture and leave it for 1-2 hours.
  • Next, drain this water and run the fresh water to let it drain.
  • Remove the soap or detergent from your bag by pressing it gently. Don’t squeeze it as it will affect its compressibility and quality.
  • Now, as you are done, again fill the water.
  • When all of the soap has been removed, push it down to let it become water free.
  • Tumble dry it or you can dry it in the open air as well. But, it will take a pretty good time to make it completely dry.

Washing a synthetic sleeping bag

Similar steps, as shown above, can be taken by hand or machine washing a synthetic sleeping bag as well. However, it is recommended to tumble dry them as the UV rays of the sun can affect the shell fabric thereby making their color dull and reducing their quality. Other preventive steps which you can take for having a more durable sleeping bags are;

What to do?

  • Try sleeping in clean clothes and airy environment. So, you may not sweat and can avoid its washing.
  • Consider using a liner. They act as a barrier between your body and the bag. They are made of cotton, silk, wool or polyester.
  • Practice using zippers and be patient with them.
  • Protect your sleeping bag from the ground and put any pad on the ground first.
  • Let them be airy on a regular basis.

What not to do

  • Avoid dry cleaning them whenever possible. There are harmful chemicals used in this process which can be allergenic to you.
  • Try not to use bleaches or other harsh fabric softeners.
  • It is always advised not to use a top loading machine. This can rip seams and agitator can strain.


Sleeping bags have been used by a number of travelers and common people all around the world for making their stays even easier, cozy and comfortable. There are many companies manufacturing them and is one of the strongest industry in the market. They are hypo-allergenic and made of soft material with a compressible structure that can be stored easily.

Taking their proper care and washing them after some usage is very important to get the most out of them. However, even after a wash if it is still not looking it best, then you may need to get a new one.

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