Sleeping Bag Maintenance and Washing Tips

By the time you read this article, where is your sleeping bag? In an attic being nibbled by mice? Still in your hiking bag with some expired cereal bars?

And in what’s situation is it? Dirty and odorous to the point that you do not take it out of compression bag? Still wet from your last night in?

It may be time to take care of this sleeping bag on which you count so much during the cold nights between two days of camping. It may be time to wash it.

Even if you bought an excellent sleeping bag, it will not stay excellent long if you do not do a good maintenance!


Why maintain a sleeping bag?

Maintain your sleeping bag, for what? We already have enough to do with the house and the car … Here are the 2 main reasons :

  • So that your sleeping bag keeps its performance.
  • So that it has a longer life.

Good maintenance depends on good storage and sometimes also good washing.



How to properly store a sleeping bag?

Whether the lining is down or synthetic, the recommendations are the same.

In Camping

Here is the best method to store your sleeping bag in the small bag provided. It does not require finesse and careful folding, but rather strength and stuffing.

If you always fold your sleeping bag and roll it before putting it in its compression bag, the lining will deteriorate at the folds.

The best way is to open your sleeping bag, loosen all tightening and stuff with your fist your loose sleeping bag in the compression bag. In this way, the folds will never be in the same place and your sleeping bag will not have cold spots thanks to a well-distributed packing.


At your house

To return to the first question of this article: is your sleeping bag currently “stowed” in its compression bag? If this is the case, it is time to get it out, because it damages its filling and reduces its swelling (and thus its heat).

Before storing your sleeping bag, ventilate it after each camping to get rid of the moisture that is trapped in it. You can even take the time to restart the packing to avoid the formation of cold spots.

The ideal is to store your sleeping bag flat (without anything on it) but it is not very practical as it takes up a lot of space. It should not be hanged because the packing would settle and would not be well distributed. The best compromise is to put it in a large mesh bag or a large ventilated bag – which is often provided with the sleeping bag when you buy it.


How to Wash a Sleeping Bag?

Maintenance and washing of a sleeping bagIf your sleeping bag is fat or smells bad, it may be time to wash it. First, try to ventilate your sleeping bag for a day out to give it a little freshness. Sometimes that is enough. But sometimes not.?

Be careful not to wash your sleeping bag too frequently – which wipes the fabrics and loses the bulkiness of the synthetic fiber linings. For washing down sleeping bags,, on the other hand, give back to the fluff and thus make it regain its thermal capacities in addition to cleaning it. For a long time, I was one of the people who thought absolutely never to wash a sleeping bag – I held 7 years …

It is possible to clean only a certain area of your sleeping bag. This avoids excessive use of the rest. It is common with the collar and hood that are dirtier because constantly in contact with the fat of our hair and our face.

The washing procedure depends on whether the lining is of down or synthetic fibers. This procedure is much easier with synthetic fiber packings. Can you wash sleeping bags in the washing machine, yes, It can! 


Down Filling

Washing a down sleeping bag is tricky and should not be done any matter if you want to prevent your sleeping bag from becoming unusable. If you are afraid to do it yourself, it is possible to have this done by professionals.


Washing (How to wash a sleeping bag in the washing machine)

Read the label first to check if machine wash is possible.

With a washing machine

  • If the down is very dirty, it can be soaked in warm water (20-30 ° C) with a little special detergent for a few hours. You can even gently brush the dirtiest parts.
  • For machine wash, turn over your sleeping bag and wash at 30 ° C using the “delicate” program.
  • Add tennis balls to the machine so that the down does not make too many agglomerates.
  • Use a special down lye whenever possible or a non-aggressive detergent.
  • Do not spin in the washing machine. Stop the washing machine after rinsing (s).

By hand

  • Put the down to soak in warm water (20-30 ° C) with a little special lye for a few hours. You can even gently brush the dirtiest parts.
  • Put the washing water in the down by pressing it with the palm of your hands.
  • Use a special down lye whenever possible or a non-aggressive detergent.


  • Rinse down thoroughly – at least twice until there is no more wash in the down.


This is the most critical step and must be carried out carefully.

With a dryer

  • Dry the down at low temperature (eg “wool” program) with tennis balls.
  • Finish drying flat and outdoors (outside if possible).
  • Turn the sleeping bag occasionally to dry both sides.
  • Squeeze and disaggregate the down agglomerates from time to time during drying.


  • Dry the sleeping bag open flat and outdoors (outside if possible).
  • Turn the sleeping bag occasionally to dry both sides.
  • Squeeze and disaggregate the down packets from time to time during drying

Attention: drying can be very long (1-2 days). Make sure your sleeping bag is dry before storing it.


Filling of synthetic fibers

Follow the same procedure as for down padding. It is sometimes possible to wash them at a higher temperature (40 ° C) – check the label. Drying is much faster and synthetic fibers do not form packets. Generally, it is therefore not necessary to disaggregate the packages as for down. It may be necessary to rinse it well more than twice.



Some additional tips to finish

  • The best maintenance is prevention: avoid dirtying and wetting your sleeping bag while hiking. This will spare you time-consuming washing and maintenance, prolonging its life and heat.
  • It is possible to use a meat bag to less dirty your sleeping bag with your grime and the surrounding dirt. You can still always lie in with own business. Personally, I really have difficulty doing that.?
  • Ventilate your sleeping bag during your hike as soon as possible. No, not hanging your sleeping bag to your backpack while walking. But if you have time during breakfast or before bed, do it. However, do not leave it too long exposed to the sun. UV can degrade tissue.
  • The outer fabric of some sleeping bags is water repellent. It is possible to re-waterproof this one with specialized products.
  • For down sleeping bags, it is normal to lose the smallest plumules because the fabric has to be breathable. Check that there is no hole if the sleeping bag loses a lot. If you spot a hole in the outer fabric during the hike, temporarily repair it with a piece of duct tape.

I am curious, tell me in the comments how you store your sleeping bag after a hike.

Leave a Reply