Can You Wash a Down Sleeping Bag?

A down sleeping bag offers a comfortable and enjoyable place to sleep wherever you go on your travels. Yet, you might wonder whether it is going to be difficult to keep clean in the long term. If you camp out or hike a lot then this will eventually take its toll on your sleeping bag.

The good news is that you can wash your down sleeping bag when necessary. However, it is important to understand how to best do this.

It isn’t especially difficult to wash this type of sleeping bag but you don’t want to risk causing any damage by getting it wrong.

Hand Wash or in a Washing Machine?

You can wash a down sleeping bag in either of these ways. The main difference is in the time that it will take you, as hand washing a sleeping bag is a fairly time-consuming process. If you are in a hurry to use it, then the washing machine method is likely to appear more attractive to you.

Having said that, you may feel that hand washing it gives you a better chance of keeping it free from harm. There isn’t really a big difference in this respect, so simply choose the option that you feel most comfortable with.

That being the case, let’s take a look at how to carry out both approaches, so you can decide which one to try.

How to Machine Wash a Down Sleeping Bag

In general terms, you should stick to commercial washing machines in laundromats for this task. This is for two main reasons. First of all, this sort of washing machine is gentler on delicate items of this type. Secondly, the majority of domestic washing simply aren’t big enough to wash a sleeping bag in.

Look for a front-loading machine that is non-agitating. You should then start by closing all of the zips and velcro fastenings on the bag before you load it into the machine. Use a technical cleaner rather than a standard detergent.

You will want to put it on a delicate cycle at a temperature of around 30o. Pay special attention that it is thoroughly rinsed out before you try to remove it. If necessary, repeat the rinse cycle until no more soapy suds come out when you press down on it.

It is also important to remove it from the washing machine very carefully. The down filing can be damaged when it is wet and heavy, so you need to support it well when lifting it out.

How to Hand Wash a Down Sleeping Bag

If you prefer to hand wash the sleeping bag then you will probably want to do this in the bath, due to the extra room that this gives you. Use lukewarm water and a mild fabric cleaning solution for this job. There are also some specialist products on the market for cleaning down if you prefer.

Ideally, you will leave it to soak, fully submerged, for an hour or so. At this point, you should replace the water in order to rinse the bag fully.

You don’t want the squeeze the sleeping bag or wring out the water. Instead, you will want to massage it gently to remove the soapy water. You may need to replace the water several times until you are happy that all of the soap has been removed in this way.

Once the bath has been completely drained of water you should push down on the sleeping bag to remove as much of the excess water as you can. As in the case of using a machine, you need to be very careful when lifting out the wet sleeping bag.

How to Dry Your Down Sleeping Bag

There are also a couple of different options for drying the sleeping bag once it has been washed. You can either let it air dry or else put it in a dryer.

How to Dry Your Down Sleeping Bag

If you choose to air dry it then this is clearly going to take longer, although doing it on a warm, windy day will help. You will need to fully spread it out, but keep it out of direct sunlight.

As for using a dryer, it is also advisable to use a commercial model in a laundromat. Put it on the lowest heat setting and add a couple of tennis balls, to stop the down from clumping together while it dries.

By sticking to these pieces of advice, you can keep your sleeping bag fresh and new-looking for years to come.