How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags can last for years if they are taken care of properly. Washing a sleeping bag is an important part of taking care of it. In this post, we will teach you how to properly wash and dry your sleeping bag. Follow these tips, and your sleeping bag will stay in good condition for many adventures to come!

sleeping bags

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How to Care for Your Sleeping Bag

Washing your sleeping bag doesn’t have to be a frequent chore. In fact, caring for your bag properly can help reduce the amounts of washings you need to keep it clean. The more care you use, and the less washings you put it through, the longer your sleeping bag will last.

Tips to keep your sleeping bag clean longer

Use a liner. While many use these to add some extra warmth to their bags in cold weather, sleeping bag liners are made for all seasons. Lining your bag will help keep dirt and oils away from your bags materials, and liners are much easier to wash than a sleeping bag is.

Don’t let your bag touch the ground. Don’t wear your sleeping bag around camp. This not only dirties the toe box of your bag, but it can also damage it or wear it down quickly. If you’re planning to sleep without a tent, lay something under the sleeping bag to prevent it touching the ground.

Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked or hiked in. Not only can wearing your cooking clothes attract animals, but your sleeping bag can absorb those odors. Changing out of your hiking clothes helps prevent your bag from picking up sweat and any funk you may have developed during the day.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Some home washers may be big enough to wash your bag at home. The main problems that arise with these are machines that have an agitator are not suitable and sometimes energy efficient washers don’t have enough room or fill with enough water to allow the bag to move around well enough to clean properly. A commercial washer at your local laundry mat can take care of those issues.

The same issues can be said about many home dryers. Most just don’t have the capacity to properly dry a sleeping bag. You need a dryer that will allow lots of room for your bag to tumble and bring it’s loft back to normal. If your home dryer keeps your sleeping bag in a ball while tumbling, it’s too small.

Machine Washing Your Sleeping Bag

*Always read your sleeping bags label for special instructions related to your exact bag*

What you’ll need:


Wash your sleeping bag on the gentle cycle, using warm or cold water.

Use a sleeping bag safe detergent such as NikWax Tech Wash. Tech Wash doesn’t leave a hydrophilic residue on gear or clothing the way most detergents will. Hydrophilic residue attracts moisture and can cause waterproof or repellent gear to soak it up.

Set the machine to go through the rinse cycle twice, with cold water. You can also just run the sleeping bag through a full cycle again without detergent, but if you’re using a laundromat, this can get a little pricey.

Hand Washing Your Sleeping Bag

What you’ll need:

  • Bathtub or other large container
  • Sleeping bag safe detergent/cleaner

Fill your tub with cool-warm water and sleeping bag safe detergent.

Press the water and detergent into your bag gently. One way to do this is by gently squeezing your bag or by pressing down on it in different spots until it is thoroughly wet. Gently rub together any spots that are soiled. You can also use a baby hair brush to do this. The bristles are super soft and they’re great at gently removing dirt and some stains.

Drain the tub and fill with clean, cool water. Rinse the bag by using the same techniques you used to press the water and detergent into your bag. Drain the tub again and press down on your bag to remove as much water and detergent as you can. Repeat this rinse process until you have removed all the detergent from the bag.

A wet sleeping bag is heavy. To prevent damaging stitching, seams, or zippers, ball up your sleeping bag to transfer it to the dryer.

Drying Your Sleeping Bag

Dry your bag on low heat. Be prepared for this to take a long time. Not all dryers are the same, but a wet/heavy sleeping bag + low heat usually equals a long dry time.

If the bag is down filled, when it’s almost dry, add a few tennis balls to the dryer to help the loft fluff back up.

Before storing your bag, make sure it’s completely dry.

Read: How to Store a Down Sleeping Bag

Your sleeping bag is one of the most expensive pieces of outdoor gear you’ll ever buy, so it’s worth taking steps to keep it clean. We hope this blog post has helped answer any questions about washing a sleeping bag that may have been lingering in the back of your mind. By following these guidelines and tips, you can keep your sleeping bag clean and fresh for seasons to come.


How to Store a Down Sleeping Bag

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