How to Maintain Your Sleeping Bag

How to Maintain Your Sleeping Bag

October 12, 2017 1 Comment

Sleeping bags can make or break a camping trip. A sleeping bag that is warm, toasty, well-fluffed and in first class condition makes for a great night's sleep. On the other hand, a sleeping bag that has poorly distributed stuffing, is coming apart at the seams, is damp, or is moldy and smells will make a night less than pleasant. If you haven't already given a thought to caring for your sleeping bag, now is the time. Not only will it last longer and save your money, it'll also ensure that you get the most out of your nights outdoors.


Method One


During Camping

1.Keep the sleeping bag dry. This is imperative number one - there is nothing more unpleasant than a night in a damp or wet sleeping bag! To ensure that it stays dry, always keep the sleeping bag in a waterproof outer bag. This is especially important if you are travelling through snow or wet areas and during wet seasons. It is also a good idea to not consume drinks near or in your sleeping bag.

2.Air the bag. Every morning, where possible, it is important to air the sleeping bag for at least 10 minutes. If you have sunshine, this is perfect. It will dry out any perspiration, condensation or dew that may be on the bag. If you are in a rainstorm and have a car, air the bag inside the car for a time. Alternatively, you could hang the bag up inside the tent for a morning if you are still in camp.

3.Line your sleeping bag with a bed sheet prior to sleeping in it. This will absorb perspiration and prevent body oils from soiling it. After camping the sheet can be pulled out and washed. This tip also helps with the cleaning tips for sleeping bags because washing sleeping bags wears them out faster and can damage them. There are specific light-weight liners made for this that are not too expensive. Usually sold as "sleeping bag liners." An added benefit of a sleeping bag liner is "The extra layer of material also provides for extra insulation and can increase the comfort rating of a sleeping bag by 1-2 degrees."

4.Store the bag properly. Try to place the bag in the stuff sack as randomly as possible, which randomizes the folds and creases so the filling won't develop "flat spots".



Keeping a Sleeping Bag Clean

1.Store a clean and dry sleeping bag. A dirty and/or damp sleeping bag encourages possible bacterial or mould growth and it might even make the bag more inviting to pests. There are two ways to clean a sleeping bag, one requiring more effort than the other:

  • Have the bag dry-cleaned. This is the easy option but often not one appreciated by outdoors enthusiasts due to the chemicals involved. If you do get the bag dry-cleaned, air it thoroughly before reuse to avoid contamination from the dry-cleaning solvents.
  • Wash and dry the bag at home. This takes more effort but is not chemically problematic. You can purchase sleeping bag cleaning liquids (mild soaps) at camping or outdoors stores. Look for brands that are "eco-friendly" and check the ingredients to satisfy yourself.

2.Follow the instructions on the label of the washing liquid and on the label of your sleeping bag before proceeding.

3.Choose the bath method or the washing machine method. The following provides a rough outline of how either method will proceed. Variants on this are dependent on the style/make of sleeping bag and its label instructions and on the instructions accompanying the washing liquid.


Washing in a Bath

1.Place the sleeping bag in the bath. Wash one at a time, as any more makes this task cumbersome and tiring.

2.Hop in!. With newer hydrophobic sleeping bags, you will likely have to gently stand in the bath with bare feet to squash the air bubbles down and to force the bag under the water.

3.Wash. Gently move the bag around with your hands to clean.

4.Rinse. Ensure that all the soap suds are removed. This may take several rinses. If they remain in the sleeping bag, they might react with the lofting and/or water-resistant features.

5.Remove. Haul it up from the bath. Proceed to "Drying" steps outlined below.



Washing in a Washing Machine

1.Select the right washing machine. The type of machine really matters in terms of protecting your sleeping bag:

  • If you choose to wash in a machine, it is recommended that a laundromat machine is probably better due to the larger space available, and look for a machine that does not have an agitator (front loader). This will keep the drawstrings and straps untangled and intact.
  • If you only have an agitator style washing machine, prefer the bath method; the agitator may destroy your sleeping bag.

2.Keep it cool. Use a gentle, cool cycle in a washing machine.

3.Rinse. Include a rinse cycle.

4.Keep it easy. Spin on low only, or use the "drip dry" cycle and follow steps outlined under drying.

5.Dry. Follow the "Drying" steps.



Drying a Sleeping Bag After Washing

1.Drip dry. Allow bag to drip dry if needed. This is more likely necessary after the Bath Method. Have a place ready for drip drying, such as a clothes horse, where water can run freely (laundry, bathroom).

2.Use a dryer. For many sleeping bags, it is possible to use a tumble dryer. While this is suitable for numerous sleeping bags, read the label carefully before you proceed.

  • Set the tumble dryer setting to low. See "Warnings".
  • Ensure that the bag is not still soaked (allow drip drying first).

3.Place in tumble dryer. Tumble dry at low setting only. Check regularly and remove as soon as it has dried. Placement of one or two tennis balls can assist in ensuring even distribution of down or filling.

4.Dry outdoors. If you have sunshine, dry the bag outdoors. See "Tips" below for more information on hand washing a sleeping bag.



Storing the Sleeping Bag Long-Term

1.Make sure the bag is dry before storing. Never store a wet sleeping bag.

2.Store in a large stuff sack or hanging up. There are two main schools of thought on long-term sleeping bag storage. Both probably depend on the amount of space you have but the choice is yours:

  • Store your sleeping bag hanging up. If you have the space, hanging your sleeping bag is an ideal way to ensure that the feathers or fill are not being crushed at all. The best hanger is one that the bag can be folded over rather than a clip one, although both will do the job.
  • An alternative to hanging is to store it lying flat under a bed. Either way, the point is to let it loft out and breathe, without being exposed to weather or dirt.
  • Keep your sleeping bag in the larger cotton bag for storage. For those with less space, the key thing is to get your sleeping bag out of its travel stuff/compression sack, the tightness of which breaks, damages or weakens the lofting abilities of the feathers or fill. If you have an older sleeping bag, or it just didn't come with a larger storage bag, purchase one. Most camping and outdoors stores carry these. Or just use a large pillowcase.


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1 Response

Melissa Brandon
Melissa Brandon

December 04, 2018

I just purchased your new double sleeping bag from Amazon in Navy Blue. We absolutely love it! The hood surround is an awesome feature! Zippers worked great and the Stuff sack is perfect for us! We’ve only used it one time so far in lower 40 degree temps, and we stayed plenty warm! The price was amazing for the quality we received! We will be purchasing another one soon! Thanks!

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