Camping gear can be a pain to keep clean, but it’s essential for keeping it in good shape for the long haul. Sleeping bags, in particular, are difficult because they are often made of down (a natural material that doesn't stand up well to washing).
This blog post will provide you with some helpful tips on how to wash your sleeping bag so it lasts longer and stays cleaner, longer.
Always check the manufacturer's instructions on exactly how their bag should be washed. If your tag fell off somewhere in the wilderness, try checking the manufacturer’s website for details!
As a general rule though, the majority of sleeping bags use a similar process:
- Wash in lukewarm water with the bulky setting to ensure the washer knows what it's dealing with.
- Use the biggest washer available in the laundromat to allow the bag some room to toss and turn for a better clean.
- Dry on low heat settings for at least 45 minutes before you begin checking to see if it's completely dry or not.
- If it's not completely dry, put it back in for another 30-45 minutes as its bulk can make drying take longer than your typical load.
What Not To Do
There are a few elements to keep in mind here though. You can't (usually) wash your sleeping bag with regular detergent; this will lower the durability of the sleeping bag. You'll need a down cleaner specifically designed for this purpose. Brands like Gear Aid and Nikwax are very popular choices.
You also shouldn’t dry clean your sleeping bag because the dry cleaning process can be harsh, thus reducing the durability and also the insulation of your sleeping bag and a sleeping bag that doesn't keep you warm is useless.
Camping gear is notorious for picking up stains and dirt. At the very least, flip it inside out to ensure all sides are cleaned.
If you have a down sleeping bag, use shampoo with an enzyme cleaner to remove any built-up oils or detergents that might be from hand soap residue.
And of course - make sure you have a bag that's big enough to store your sleeping back when it's clean! You want to make sure that your hard work doesn't go unnoticed next time you head into the woods. Roll it up and pack it right in the laundromat, and you can rest assured your sleeping bag is clean for your next camping trip.