Tips For Washing Your Sleeping Bag
Nobody wants to slip back into their sleeping bag after weeks in the real world, only to remember “Hey, I don’t think I washed this.” It’s even worse when you’re snug as a bug in a double sleeping bag, and you’ve just come to this realization. Top to bottom and back again, this is how you handle your sleeping bag hygiene.
You Can Machine Wash (Most) Sleeping Bags
You’ll definitely have to check out the tags and any cleaning/maintenance instructions that came with your package, but for the most part, you can throw these into a washing machine and call it a day. Just be sure you’re not overloading the machine. If you have a double sleeping bag and a small load washer, use some caution; you don’t want it getting stuck and destroyed on the center spire.
The washer and dryer owners won’t run into that issue. With tumble style, front load washing machines that don’t need the turbine, if it fits, you can clean it in there. You’re mostly looking to prevent damages. Here’s a few tips and things to keep in mind if you’re opting for this cleaning method:
- Set to Cold: Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, set it to cold to keep the shape. When you opt for a hot wash, it can make the filling more malleable, giving you this oblong shape after it’s dried.
- Zipper Check: Before it goes in, make sure all zippers are closed, and if possible, tucked away where they won’t damage the inside of the washer or dryer. This also cuts down on the risk of your zippers getting stuck or jammed, and either bending them, or not getting a proper clean.
- Heavy Duty Detergent: They’re thick, they’re fluffy, and they need some more attention to detail. This isn’t a cotton t-shirt we’re talking about. Go for heavy duty, heavy clean laundry detergent to ensure that it’s clean as a whistle when it comes out.
Note: If you’re washing kids sleeping bags, be sure to keep in mind any skin irritations. If need be, you can go for a medium strength detergent if your little one has any allergies or eczema.
Handwashing Your Sleeping Bag
If you own sleeping pads, then you’re probably familiar with washing these by hand. Even if you’re planning on machine washing, read up on this: it’s an excellent way to clean your sleeping bag if you’ve arrived at the campsite, and realize that it never made it into the washing machine.
- Measure Soap and Water: You can use standard soap you might have with your camping cookware set. Get about four ounces of water in a container, add two or three drops of soap, and blend it all together. Grab a cotton face cloth or paper towel (whatever you brought with you), and gently wet it. Flip the sleeping bag inside out, and begin working from the corners outward to the exterior. You just want a clean interior; you can worry about the outside when you actually remember to put this in the washing machine.
- Wet Wipes: Since the residue can have an adverse effect on your shell’s material, this isn’t recommended, but definitely works in a pinch. Whether you have some in a first-aid kit or you just bring them with you, some moist towelettes or wet wipes are excellent ways to get a quick clean on the go. Flip the bag inside out, start from the corners and work your way out, and let it air dry for one to two hours. Nobody wants the chemical scent of the cleaning agent right under their nose while they’re trying to catch some z’s.
- Soaking: This one won’t work at the campsite, but if your washer is on the fritz or you visit a local laundromat, this trick will work wonders. Fill your bathtub up with ¾” of warm water, and drop in about five or six drops of soap. Do this while the water’s filling up so it distributes evenly through the water. Turn your bag inside out, drop it in, and submerge it. Leave it for thirty minutes, and dry it (outdoors if possible) for 3-4 hours.
Note: If you’re going to handwash your sleeping bag out on the campsite, be sure to get the crevices where the pull string/elastic band is around the head of the bag. These build with sweat and dust very easily.
Tips to Keep It Clean
You’re out and about for a few days, and you don’t have access to cleaning supplies. No bother. If you brought it to the campsite nice and clean, here’s what you have to do to maintain it until it’s time to pack up and go home.
- Wear Clean Clothes: If you’re slipping into the bag after a long hike, that’s a big no-no. You’re going to sweat like a pig, and it’s going to stink up the bag. If you’re in a double sleeping bag with your missus, she’s not going to be too happy crawling into the sack the next night.
- Use a Sleeping Pad: Keep your bag off the ground when possible. If your camping tent has a bathtub-style floor, or if you have a sleeping pad, you’ll be good here. It’s amazing how much dust finds its way into your bag while you’re rolling around in your sleep.
- Air Out the Bag: Every morning, give it some air. You’re going to sweat a little in your sleep, and to keep the stench at bay, just give it a little whirl in the air before you roll it up for the next night. If you’re using a wearable sleeping bag, you might want to pop it inside out and leave it like that to air out while you hit the hiking trail.
Time to Get Camping
Preparations, on the trail, either way you’re knowledgeable enough to keep it clean at all times. Don’t be afraid to share this with the lads, especially if you notice that Kevin’s bag always smells like a zoo.