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How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

25.06.2014 | Camping How to Guides

Can You Wash a Sleeping Bag?

Yes! Like all bedding items, your sleeping bag will need to be cleaned every once in a while. While all sleeping bags come with their own cleaning instructions (which you should follow) here are a few tips to help you wash your sleeping bag.



  • Fill a bath with cold water and add half a cup of mild fabric soap
  • Stir the soap into the water until it is fully dissolved
  • Lie your fully zipped up sleeping bag in the bath as flat as possible
  • With bare feet, step into the bath and walk up and down the sleeping bag until it has been thoroughly submerged into the soapy water, the solution working its way through the filling
  • Empty the soapy bathwater and refill with cold water
  • Walk up and down the sleeping bag in this manner, emptying the soapy water and refilling, until all the soap has left the bag
  • When you’re happy no more soap remains, drain the bath and roll the sleeping bag up, pressing down on it as you go. This squeezes out as much water as possible ready for drying
  • NEVER twist or wring your sleeping  bag as this can cause your sleeping bag’s filling to lump together

That was the manual version for hands on people, but you can bypass the above and just go to your local launderette instead!


Machine Washing

  • Firstly, please ensure your sleeping bag is suitable for a machine wash
  • If it is, ensure that the machine  is set to a delicate wash on a cold water option
  • Load the machine with your sleeping bag, which should be unzipped with the zip puller left halfway up the mechanism
  • With your sleeping bag pop in a couple of tennis balls as these will bounce around in the cycle ensuring the stuffing doesn’t lump together as it spins round the machine
  • Never add fabric softener, as this will damage your sleeping bag
  • When the wash is finished, run it through another rinse cycle to ensure no soapy residue is left
  • When it’s done, press down on the sleeping bag. If soap suds appear put it on another rinse cycle
  • If no suds appear, take the sleeping bag out of the machine. Lay it flat on a table and roll it up so the water streams from the bag
  • Roll your bag up near a drain, or if there is no drain line the floor with towels or newspaper to soak up the residual water
  • Be careful never to wring or scrunch up your sleeping bag, as this can damage the filling and cause clumping


Drying Your Sleeping Bag

You have two options when it comes to drying your freshly washed sleeping bag:

a) You can hang it out, unzipped, on a washing line. You must be confident that the weather won’t turn suddenly as your sleeping bag will need to be out to dry for at least 24 hours

b) Pop your sleeping bag into a large tumble dryer on a low heat. High temperatures will melt any synthetic fabrics and fibres, which will make sleeping in your bag extremely uncomfortable. Again, add in a couple of tennis balls to break down any clumps that may form during the cycle. (Always check the care label of your product to check it is suitable for tumble drying.)


Sleeping Bag Liners

Generally, people only tend to wash their sleeping bags once they start getting a bit smelly and dirty. Usually this means a once-a-year wash, but if you tend to use yours more regularly instead of washing it every couple of months, why not use a sleeping bag liner to keep your bag cleaner for longer. Liners come in a variety of fabrics, but the most common are silk and cotton liners.

Silk is great for insulation, and tends to add around one season to your temperature rating. It’s very compact making it great for travelling and is nice and light too. Cotton is of course, a cheaper option to silk and is great for keeping your sleeping bag clean at a low cost. Using sleeping bag liners means you won’t have to wash your sleeping bag as regularly as you would without one. You just need to wash the liner which is super simple!