How to Wash a Sleeping Bag?

methods to clean your sleeping bag

Does your sleeping bag smell after you come from camping? Get rid of that stick through washing. How many times do you wash your duvets at home?

Washing is good and keeps the sleeping bag in a good state but do not wash it regularly.

From this guide you will learn:

  • How to wash your sleeping bag either using a machine or hands?
  • How to dry your sleeping bag?
  • How to spot clean and lastly deodorize the bag?

methods to clean your sleeping bag

How to Wash a Down/Synthetic Sleeping Bag?

You can use two basic ways to wash your sleeping bag, either using a machine or hand washing. The sleeping bag should not be washed every time.

Only when you feel it has stayed for long without washing or if it stinks. Spills and spots can also be a reason to wash your sleeping bags.

For machine wash, you will need some towels and tennis balls. Tennis balls? Yes, you read it right. You will see how to use this later on.

How to wash a sleeping bag with the washing machine?

You need to choose a large capacity, front-end washing machine to wash your sleeping bag effectively. Avoid a top-loading machine, as its agitation motion will tear the sleeping bag’s baffles.

Step 1

Wash the sleeping bag using warm water set on a gentle cycle.

Step 2

Use the recommended detergent used for washing a sleeping bag. If you don’t have the detergent you can use a mild soap such as Ivory white. Use a small amount of soap to avoid having to rinse many times.

Step 3

After washing and rinsing, give it a final rinse to ensure the soap is completely removed.

Step 4

Spin it twice. This will aid in fast drying.

Step 5

Put the sleeping bag in a dryer and set it at the lowest temperature.

Step 6

Do you remember those heavy towels and tennis balls you set aside? It is time to put them to work. Put these together with the sleeping bag in the dryer.

wash your sleeping bag with wash machine

The damp towels act to absorb water from the sleeping bag while the tennis balls serve to break up the clumps.

Please note that some dryers release too much heat. Even on the low-temperature settings. To ensure your sleeping bag is safe, you should open the door to the dryer at intervals.

This lets out excess heat. When the dryer stops, you should immediately check on your bag. Do not let it rest on the hot drum. Remember the bag is synthetic.

To be sure that the bag is completely dry before storage; after removing it from the dryer, you can hang it on the lines or leave it on the bed all night.

How to wash a sleeping bag with hands?

This should be done under the sun, or on a windy day. Clothes that are hung out in the wind tend to dry very fast. You can do this in your bathtub.

wash your sleeping bag with your hands

Step 1

Add hot water to the tub.

Step 2

Add soap then mix thoroughly.

Step 3

Zip your bag and turn it inside out then put it inside the bathtub. Allow the bag to soak in the water for around two hours. Frequently turn the sleeping bag and rub together the heavily soiled areas and areas full of spills.

Step 4

Drain up the tub and press the sleeping bag to remove all the soapy water from it.

Step 5

Fill the tub with cold water to rinse and work the soap out.

Step 6

Allow the bag to sit in the water for close to 20 minutes then drain it. Press out the remaining water. Repeat this process three times.

Step 7

Squeeze as much water as you can from the sleeping bag. Do not twist the sleeping bag in any way. This will prevent the sleeping bag from straining or ripping the seams.

Step 8

Roll up the bag and carry it in your hands to a dryer.


How to Dry Sleeping Bag?

methods to make your sleeping bag dry

With hand washing, the bag will take days to dry when put outside in the hanging lines.

If you want to speed up the drying process:

Step 1

You can opt to put it in the washing machine to rinse.

Step 2

Add damp towels and a tennis ball together with the sleeping bag in a dryer.

Step 3

Set the dryer on the lowest temperature. Open the door of the washing machine periodically to let our heat.

Step 4

Immediately remove the sleeping bag when the dryer halts. Take it out carefully ensuring it does not sleep on the drum of the dryer.

Step 5

Let the bag rest on the bed overnight or hang to ensure it is completely dried.


How to Clean the Spot of Your Sleeping Bag?

use toothbrush to clean your sleeping bag spot

Your bag does not need cleaning every time. If it has a few spots, there is no need to subject it to a complete bath. Frequent washing causes wear and tear.

Additionally, it reduces the loft of the bag. Therefore, spot cleaning should be your first option. There are some ways to clean the spot.

  • Make a paste using soap and water.
  • Take a toothbrush and gently clean the shell.
  • Put more emphasis on the collar and hood.

You can clean the dirt without getting the inner parts filled with water by holding the liner material away from the insulation.

You can go to many camps without having to wash the sleeping bag with just spot cleaning.


How to Deodorize Your Sleeping Bag?

methods to deodorize and clean a sleeping bag

Sometimes just washing is not enough to remove the stinks from your sleeping bag. You need a deodorizer to remove tuff stinks and smells from the bag.

Many deodorizers in the market can help you achieve the level of cleanliness you need. An example is the Revivex odor eliminator.

It is safe to use. It is a gentle formula equipped with microbes that consumes odor completely and leaves your sleeping bag fresh and clean.

Here is how to use a deodorizer:

Step 1

Fill the bathtub with water just enough to submerge the sleeping bag.

Step 2

Add 10 ml of deodorizer to 20 gallons of water and mix thoroughly.

Step 3

Unzip the sleeping bag and put it in the solution. It should be completely submerged in the solution.

Step 4

Soak it for 10 minutes and then take it out. Do not rinse it.

Step 5

Let it stay on the hanging line for a couple of hours or use your dryer to dry the sleeping bag.


How to Care for the Sleeping Bag?

how to maintain the sleeping bag

To extend the shelf life of your sleeping bag and extend the intervals between washing sessions consider doing the following:

  • Air out your bag

When you are on a trip, you should air out it every day. After coming back from your trip, remember to also air it out for an hour then store it in a mesh bag.

  • Use a sleeping bag liner when camping

This will keep the bag clean and additionally add extra warmth to you.

  • Sleep in clean clothes when camping

The bag will absorb dirt and sweat from your clothes. Use a stocking on your head. This will prevent the sleeping bag from absorbing dirt from your hair.

  • Clean it with a toothbrush and a soap paste

Whenever you spot any dirt on the sleeping bag, clean it as soon as possible.

You should not do this when washing:

  • Do not dry clean your sleeping bag

Detergents used in dry cleaning strip off the natural oils from the sleeping bag. These oils help retain the loft.

  • Do not use bleach or fabric softeners

This can also do harm to your sleeping bag’s fabric.

  • Avoid a top-loading machine with an agitator

The agitator strains or rips the seams.


Other Methods to Maintain Your Sleeping Bag

Besides washing your sleeping bag, you need also to take measures to make it stay in good.

ways to keep your sleeping bag good

Waterproofing a sleeping bag

Insulating the sleeping bag against wetness from the ground will help it retain the loft and heat. As a result, you will have a good night and comfortable sleep. A DWR helps prevent the down insulation from becoming wet.

You should consider spraying the exterior of your sleeping bag with a DWR (durable water repellent). Your synthetic sleeping bag is capable of giving better results when waterproofed. Spraying helps it repel water and dirt.

Broken zippers and fabric tear

Your sleeping bag may tear or worse the zipper may break. What do you do in such scenarios? You do not have to wait until you get home to take action. You do not have to let the cold bother you since heat is escaping away from the broken zippers or the tear.

You can sew up the hole by hand using a needle and thread. (If you are one that walks with a handheld sewing machine kit in their car, then you are safe.)

If you get home from your trip, you can remove the hand stitching and sew more professionally using a sewing machine. You can do it personally or take it to a sewer if you are not comfortable doing it alone.

If you do not have a sewing tool, you can use adhesive tape to patch up the hole. Additionally, you can use a wound bandage from your first aid kit to patch the hole.

machine wash your sleeping bag

Storing a sleeping bag

How you store your sleeping bag will influence its life span. After washing the sleeping bag you have to store it in a large cotton or a mesh bag.

After getting home from your trip, the first you do is unzip your sleeping bag and air it out. You can also hang it out to dry then proceed to storage.

When storing, for easier packing, begin with the foot with the zipper partly closed. Try to avoid compressing the sleeping bag for longer periods as this will reduce its insulation and loft.

Do not use watertight storage bags. Experts say condensation is likely to build up inside and result in mildew



How Long Does It Take to Dry a Down Sleeping Bag?

Using a dryer set at the lowest temperature, it will take between three to five hours to dry a down sleeping bag. The temperature is set at the low-end because high temperatures will damage the content of the sleeping back.

How Often to Wash Sleeping Bag?

The number of times you should wash your sleeping bag depends on how much time you use it. However, you should only wash the bag when you feel it stinks, it is wet from rainwater, or it is extremely dirty.

You can go for years without washing the bag. Always keep in mind that continuous washing will decrease the loft. Besides, you might end up damaging the waterproofing coat.



Washing your sleeping bag is good but also frequent washing will reduce its life span. Strive to use other means to keep it clean. Keeping your sleeping bag clean is the first step in ensuring you enjoy your night at camp.