How to Wash a Sleeping Bag


If you’re a regular camper, you know that your sleeping bag is one of your most valuable items and you need to know how to wash a sleeping bag every once in a while. Your sleeping bag is where you will spend your most precious time for resting after a long day’s hike so it needs to be comfortable and clean.

For those who are just about to invest in one, this is the best backpacking sleeping pad. You also need to make sure that you pack all the necessary items for your hike and here is a great guide on how to pack a hiking backpack. And to complete your essentials, this is the best backpacking tent so you and your group will have a safe and comfortable spot to rest your weary bodies.

Different sleeping bags come with their own set of cleaning instructions but there are definitely a few tricks on how to wash a sleeping bag that will make things easier and more efficient.

Types of Sleeping Bags

Before giving you the details on how to wash a sleeping bag, it’s good to be reminded about the different types of sleeping bags so that you can keep in mind how to care for it. There are definitely a lot of types and designs of sleeping bags but below are the main ones based on materials.

  • Synthetic

    Synthetic insulation sleeping bags are probably the most common among campers. They have strong overall performance and it’s not very expensive. They’re usually made of polyester and has a synthetic fill. Its advantages are it is quick drying and it insulates even if it gets wet. It’s durable and nonallergenic as well. But it cannot be packed down as small as other types.

  • Goose Down

    The other type of sleeping bag is one that has goose down insulation. It provides a more durable and compressible alternative but they can get very expensive.

  • Water Resistant

    Of course, there are sleeping bags that have water resistant or water proof materials. But it may not be able to insulate as much once it gets wet. To fix this, some sleeping bags offer goose down materials that have been treated to protect the feathers from moisture.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

So now you have more idea about the types of sleeping bag. It will be easier to discuss how to care for them and how to wash a sleeping bag.

  • Hand Wash

    The safest way how to wash a sleeping bag is to hand wash it. This can work well with any type of sleeping bag but especially for down sleeping bags. It is much safer to hand wash rather than use a machine.

    Fill your tub or bath with cold water and add half a cup of mild fabric soap. Then stir the soap until it is fully dissolved in the water. Make sure to fully zip your sleeping bag and lie it flat on the tub.

    You can step into the bath with bare feet and walk up and down your sleeping bag until it is thoroughly submerged in the soapy water. The solution should work its way through the filling.

    After that, you should empty the soapy water bath and refill it with cold water. Walk up and down the bag again while you empty the soapy water and refill until there’s no more soap in the bag.

    You can now drain the tub and roll the sleeping bag up, making sure to press down on it as you go. It should squeeze out as much water as possible so it’s ready to dry. Remember not to twist or wring your sleeping bag because this could make the fillings lump together. This is the manual version of how to wash a sleeping bag.

  • Machine Wash

    You can also machine wash your sleeping bag like synthetics as long as they don’t have agitators. Make sure to check with the manufacturer if it’s safe and read the label. You need to set your machine to delicate wash on a cold water option.

    Load your sleeping bag into the machine and make sure that it’s unzipped. The zip puller should be left halfway up. A trick is to put in some tennis balls inside so they will bounce around in the cycle and ensure that the stuffing inside the bag does not lump together while it spins inside the machine.

    Do not add fabric softener to avoid damaging your sleeping bag. This is an important note to remember on how to wash a sleeping bag in a machine.

    Run it through another rinse cycle when it’s finished to make sure that there’s no soapy residue left. Press down on the sleeping bag and if soap suds appear, you can put it on another rinse cycle. When there are no more suds, take your sleeping bag out of the machine and put it flat then roll it up to stream the water out of the bag.

    Remember not to wring or scrunch your sleeping bag because it can damage the filling.

How to Dry the Sleeping Bag

Now that you have learned how to wash a sleeping bag with two different methods, you should ensure that you put it out to dry properly. There are also two options to dry your sleeping bag.

  • Hanging

    You can hang your sleeping bag out. It should be unzipped on a washing line. Check beforehand that the weather would not suddenly turn. It should be left to dry for at least 24 hours.

  • Tumble Dry

    If done properly, it would also be safe to tumble dry your sleeping bag now that you know how to wash a sleeping bag. Throw it into a large tumble dryer and put it on low heat. The high temperature could melt synthetic fabrics and fibers. This could make your sleeping bag uncomfortable. Just like in machine washing, add a couple of tennis balls to break down any clumps.

Make sure to check the labels on your sleeping bag before doing any of the recommendation on how to wash a sleeping bag and to follow the proper care instructions to make sure that your sleeping bag stays as durable as it should be.