How To Wash A Down Sleeping Bag?

Can you wash a sleeping bag? Do you know how to wash it in your house by yourself? 

Ask anybody who tents camps that one of your most valuable pieces of equipment is your sleeping bag. A well-maintained sleeping bag can mean the difference between a comfortable good nights sleep after outdoor adventures or a long miserable night on the cold ground.

Something that you can do to make sure your bag is working at peak efficiency is to periodically give a wash for your sleeping bag. If you are a typical camper, you should only do a full wash about every year or so. You can do small spot treatments in between. If you are a hardcore weekend warrior who camps every weekend, you will need to wash a bit more frequently.

Now there are services where you can send in your bags to be cleaned, but its just as easy to do at you home!

Disclaimer: If ever in doubt about how to maintain any camping equipment, check the manufacturer’s website. They often have FAQs that will be able to help. So let’s get to it!


Step 1: Supplies



There are a couple of ways to go about this, hand washing (which is a bit better) or using a front loading washing machine. I will be hand washing but will be covering some aspects of both methods. If you decide to have a wash, you will just need a bathtub, your dirty down sleeping bag and some speciality sleeping bag detergent (or a regular mild detergent, no liquids though). Most manufacturers recommend Nexiwax wash, which is specialized for either down or synthetic sleeping bags. If you are machine washing, you need a front loading washing machine (MUST NOT HAVE AN AGITATOR, THIS CAN RUIN THE SLEEPING BAG!). You will also need a rope to hang your sleeping bag to dry or a dryer with a low heat setting and a few tennis balls

Step 2: Prepare the Wash

Prepare the Wash

Before you wash your bag, be sure you know what material of sleeping bag it is, either down sleeping bag, it is much safer to hand wash rather than using a machine.

Synthetics can be washed in a machine but again only if they don’t have the agitators as they can damage the nylon shells and ruin the loft (the fluffiness of the bag). For both wash methods, you will want to use warm water rather than hot. Fill the tub up halfway and add your soap. Make sure that the soap is a non-liquid and doesn’t contain bleach especially if you have a natural down sleeping bag.

The feathers in them have oils on them that add to their insulation properties and bleach has a tendency to remove them. The liquid soaps tend to leave a residue even after rinsing.


Step 3: Add the Sleeping Bag

Add the Sleeping Bag

After you have the water ready, turn your north face sleeping bag inside out and zipped closed. Do this for both hand washing down and machine washing. We are doing this to make sure any debris that was carried into the bag is cleaned out. Once inverted, you can place it in the tub/ machine. Be sure the bag is submerged everywhere. Let the bag soak in the tub for 10-15 minutes to allow the soap to do its job and to let the water seep into the sleeping bag. If you are using a machine, use the delicate setting so the bag is less likely to get damaged.

Let the bag soak in the tub for 10-15 minutes to allow the soap to do its job and to let the water seep into the sleeping bag. If you are using a machine, use the delicate setting so the bag is less likely to get damaged.


Step 4: Gently Agitate


For this step its time to take off your shoes and socks and agitate the water. One of the best ways I have found to do this is to climb into the tub and step on the sleeping bag. Walk around on the down sleeping bag as if you were stomping grapes but did not have a vendetta against grapes. Continue to agitate the water until you feel that your bag has been thoroughly cleaned. This is important to wash a down sleeping bag.



Step 5: Drain


For this step, let the dirty water drain from the tub. You will want to squeeze out the excess dirty water from your sleeping bag by walking on it or by folding it over on itself and compressing. Be very careful when moving the sleeping bag as they are very very heavy and we don’t want them to rip.

Whatever you do, NEVER try to wring out a sleeping bag. This will ruin the insulation and make your sleeping bag worthless. It is important to wash a down sleeping bag.


Step 6: Rinse


To rinse, just use cold water and fill the tub up until the bag is submerged. Lightly agitate and squeeze the bag to make sure you have gotten the soap completely out. Drain and refill with the water that is squeezed out of the bag comes out clean. Once it does, remove the excess water like we did in the previous step and allow the bag to drain for 15 minutes. If you are using a washing machine, you can use an extra spin cycle if down sleeping bag wash comes out wet after the wash cycle is complete.

Once it does, remove the excess water like we did in the previous step and allow the bag to drain for 15 minutes. If you are using a washing machine, you can use an extra spin cycle if down sleeping bag wash comes out wet after the wash cycle is complete.


Step 7: Drying


For the final step, hang your down sleeping bag across a piece of rope and let it air dry. Air drying is the best method for both down and synthetic sleeping bags. The only downside is that it takes a very long time. For mine to dry completely it took around 20 hours. If you use a dryer, use the lowest possible heat setting and throw a few tennis balls into the dryer. These will help to break up any clump of insulation that may have formed and to maintain the loft of the sleeping bag. Once the bag is dry you are ready to take it back out into the field.

These will help to break up any clump of insulation that may have formed and to maintain the loft of the sleeping bag. Once the bag is dry you are ready to take it back out into the field.

Thanks for reading “how to wash a down sleeping bag” and I hope this tutorial has made your camping trips more enjoyable!

How To Pack A Sleeping Bag?

Rolling or Packing a sleeping bag is an essential skill for any camper. Though bags come in a variety of shapes and storage options, packing your sleeping bag is easy.

Rolling or Packing a sleeping bag is an essential skill for any camper. Though bags come in a variety of shapes and storage options, packing your sleeping bag is easy. Once you’ve determined how your bag should be packed, getting it together is simple.

Packing a Sleeping Bag

  1. Do not roll a bag if it comes with a stuff sack and space is no issues. Rolling a bag frequently can damage the insulation, making it less effective at keeping you warm. Most bags that come with a storage bag are actually meant to be stuffed into the bag loosely, not rolled. Check your owner’s manual if you are unsure how to store your bag.

    • If the bag came with straps, either separately or attached near the head, it is likely meant to be rolled. These straps are meant to keep the bag rolled up.
    • If you need to save space, rolling your bag is the best way to compress it into its smallest shape. However, you should try to remove your bag from compression as soon as possible.
  2. Lay the sleeping bag on a flat, dry surface. If possible, use your ground tarp of the floor of your tent to roll up the bag, as this will keep it clean and moisture from getting rolled into the bag, where mildew might grow.

    Zip up the bag and push any large air pockets out through the head. Zip it up completely, as an unzipped bag makes it hard to roll evenly. Smooth out the bag so that you get out as much air as possible, as air pockets will prevent an even, tight roll.

    Fold the sleeping bag in half lengthwise. Fold one side over so that it lines up with the zipper. Take some time to make sure the edges are lined up. They don’t have to be perfect, but the closer you can get them the better.

    Start rolling upwards, firmly, from the feet. Use both hands to roll the bag up tightly, kneading it with your hands to push any air in the bag up and out the hole at the top for your head.

    Sit on the bag with your knees to keep it tight. If you are having trouble getting the bag tight enough, crouch down and use your knees to keep the roll tight and push out air. Then roll up another 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm), using your fingers to get the roll tight, and push some more air out with your knees.
  7. Use the attached straps to keep the bag rolled. Most sleeping bags that are meant to be rolled have straps that cinch around the rolled bag and then tighten, keeping it rolled up. You should have at lease two, and they should be positioned roughly 1/3 of the way from each edge of the rolled bag.

    • If you don’t have straps, you can improvise one out of a belt, large rubber bands, or rope.
    • If your bag came with a bag but no straps, store the sleeping bag in the appropriate carrying bag and close the top tightly.
  8. Keep the bag dry and free from water. If you are in the backcountry a wet sleeping bag isn’t only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Water wicks heat away from your skin much faster than air, so a wet bag can lead to deadly cold temperatures if you aren’t careful. Keep your bag in a waterproof bag, or improvise one out of garbage bags if you don’t have one.


Avoiding Common Issues

  1. Know that prolonged compression will make your bag less effective. Keeping your bag tightly stuffed or rolled for long periods of time will make it lose loft, which is what traps hot air to keep you warm. While you want to roll your bag tightly to travel with, you should never store your bag compressed or jammed in a stuff-sack.

    • Loosely roll your bag, or let it rest, lightly folded, when it is not in use.
  2. Turn wind or water resistant bags inside out. The layering on the outside of these bags is great at keeping air out when you need to stay warm, but it can keep air in when you need it to escape for packing. Turn these bags inside out, zip them up, and then roll them as normal.
  3. Use a stuff-sack for tighter packing. These bags come with several straps and cinches that let you pull down on the top of the bag and get it even smaller. They are usually waterproof, and you can often get a large enough bag the lets you stuff several other items, like shirts or camping pillows, in with the bag.

    • Always start packing by the tail if you use a stuff sack — this allows the air in the bag to escape through the top.
  4. Air out your bag when you return from your trip. While you should never stuff your bag and store it fully compressed, good bag care requires brushing out any dirt, twigs, and leaves and letting the bag dry out completely when your trip is over. Mold and mildew will grow if your bag is allowed to be stored wet, and it is tough to remove once it grows. Let the bag rest outside on a dry day for several hours and brush out any debris.

    • UV light can damage the sleeping bag fibers, so take care not to leave the bag in the sun all day.
  5. Gently pull any leaking down feather back into the bag. A few loose pieces of down is not uncommon in new sleeping bags. Gently work the quills back into the bag, pulling from the back side whenever possible. The holes will close back up and the insulation should settle with time.

How to Store and Clean a Sleeping Bag?

Keep your sleeping bag up to fluff with proper care and handling, including storing the sleeping bag, washing/drying, and special considerations.

My first sleeping bag was a rectangular, slumber-party special with horses and flowers adorning the yellow flannel lining. After my first backpacking trip, I retired it (too cold, too heavy, too bulky) and bought a down mummy, which I proceeded to store in its stuff sack for an entire winter. When I pulled it out the following spring, my cozy cocoon was flatter than a day-old pancake and offered less warmth than my old flannel job.

Regardless of whether you opt for down or synthetic fill, give your sleeping bag the TLC it deserves.


  • After each trip, air dry your bag for at least 24 hours before storing sleeping bag.
  • Never store your bag in its itty-bitty stuff sack! The longer you compress the insulation, the more loft it loses. It’s fine to use a stuff sack-even a compression stuff sack-on the trail, but the minute you get home, get your sleeper out of that confined space, give it a good shake to fluff up the fill material, then store it in a cool, dry place. Spread it out under your bed, hang it in a closet, or put it in a big, breathable storage bag (often provided by the manufacturer). If you don’t have such a sack, use a king-size pillowcase.


  • Wash your bag when it gets stinky, dirty, or loses a noticeable amount of loft, but not after every trip. For most people, this means once a year. Don’t dry-clean your sleeping bag, because the harsh chemicals wreak havoc on the materials.
  • For safe and thorough cleaning, head to your local laundry and use a jumbo, front-loading washer. The agitators that churn clothes in most home washing machines can twist and damage insulation fibers and baffle materials (baffles inside your bag hold the insulation in place).
  • Before washing, unzip the bag and bring the slider halfway up on e side of the zipper. This ensures that the slider won’t come off during washing.
  • Use warm water, the gentle cycle, and ¼ cup of a mild powdered detergent.


  • “The key here is transferring the wet bag from the washing machine to the dryer,” says Bob Upton, president of Rainy Pass Repair in Seattle, Washington. “When a bag is wet and heavy, the stitching and baffling materials are prone to tearing. Gently lift the bag onto a rolling cart, being careful to support the entire bag. Don’t pull on any part of the bag,” he cautions. Exercise the same caution when lifting your bag into the dryer. Opt for the largest dryer you can find-“preferably one you could crawl into,” says Upton.
  • For a down bag, toss in 6 to 12 tennis balls to help fluff it up.
  • Turn the dial to the lowest/coolest setting, and start feeding in the quarters. Sleeping bags take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to dry completely.
  • Check the bag periodically to make sure the fabric isn’t scorching hot and the insulation isn’t bunching or clumping. If it clumps, line dry it instead.

Special Considerations

  • If your bag is an heirloom inherited from Great-Uncle Jeb, it might be unwashable. To check the integrity of an old bag, reach inside and grab a handful of lining material. With your other hand, grab the opposing shell material and tug gently. If you hear threads popping or ripping sounds, the baffles are damaged and will need to be repaired before washing.
  • A bag with a waterproof or water-resistant/breathable shell will hold a lot of water, so use extra caution when transporting it from washer to dryer. And prepare yourself for the 4 to 5 hours it will take to dry completely.
  • Detergents reduce the water-resistancy of shell materials. Treat your bag’s shell after each washing with a spray-on waterproofing agent, available at outdoors shops.

How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Camping

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While backpacks focus on weight reduction, sleeping bags for car or family camping are all about comfort. What is the best sleeping bag for you? This article discusses the features to look for when buying a sleeping bag for camping car.



Sleeping bag temperature rating


The temperature index of a sleeping bag identifies the lowest temperature at which a bag is meant to keep the average sleeper warm. When a bag is described as a “20-degree bag”, this means that most users should remain comfortable if the air temperature does not drop more than 20 ° F. These notes assume that the sleeper Wearing a layer of long underwear and using a sleeping cushion under the bag.

The metabolism varies from person to person, and the temperatures of the sleeping bags vary from one manufacturer to another. Use these ratings as a guide only, not a warranty.

Sleeping bags are typically classified as follows:

Bag Type Temperature Rating (° F)
Summer season + 35 ° and more
+ 10 ° to + 35 °
+ 10 ° and lower
Note: Most camping bags have a nominal temperature of + 15 ° F to + 50 ° F.

Select a sleeping bag with a lower temperature than the lowest temperature you would expect. If you are going to near freezing temperatures, choose a 20 ° F bag instead of a 35 ° F bag. If the temperatures remain above those predicted, you can easily ventilate the bag to provide more circulation air.


Sleeping bag shape

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Sleeping bags keep you warm by trapping and holding a layer of “dead” air (non-circulating) next to your body. The warmth of your body heats this dead air, and the bag forms a barrier between it and the colder ground or the outside air. The more heat in the air, the faster you heat up and stay warm. The camping bags are more spacious than the backpacks for greater comfort, the compromise being a less effective warming of this dead space.


Most camping bags are designed with a rectangular shape for maximum comfort and livability. If you choose 2 bags with compatible zippers, it’s easy to combine them and create a double bed. You can associate bags if one bag has a “right” zipper and the other a “left” zipper. (Note: a straight zipper means the bag opens and closes to your right when you are lying in the bag on your back.) Zippers should also have the same size, style and size Nearly the same length. You can install 2 bags on a queen air mattress for the most comfortable sleep outside.

Semi-phased (or barrel-shaped)

These can be used for camping and hiking. Their conical design offers greater warmth and efficiency than rectangular bags, but they are still very spacious to sleep comfortably. They are popular with larger scale combines or rough sleepers that do not like the tight fit of a mom bag.


If you think you are going to go hiking as well as camping car, you may want to choose a Mummy cloth sleeping bag. Mummy bags have a wide shoulder and hip thickness to maximize heat and reduce weight. However, some people find it hard to feel comfortable in these more restrictive bags.

Double Width

Designed to comfortably accommodate 2 people, spacious double width combinations can be combined with an air mattress (or foam mattress) to sleep comfortably. Most models come off to create 2 individual bags.



Type of sleeping bag insulation


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Synthetic insulation

Most campers choose synthetic insulation (against fall insulation) for its strong overall performance and friendly price tag. Typically polyester, a synthetic filling has many advantages: it dries quickly and isolates even if it gets wet. It is less expensive than panic filled bags, it is durable (resists children and dogs) and it is non-allergenic. However, synthetic insulation does not degrade as low as down, so it is less versatile if you plan to use your bag for hiking too.


Goose insulation

Offered in some camping bags, it offers a more resistant and compressible alternative to synthetic filling but presents a slightly higher price.

Water-based insulation

The disadvantage of the drop is that it loses its insulating power when it gets wet. To help alleviate the problem, some sleeping bags have been treated to protect the feathers from moisture.
Sleeping bags for women and children
Sleeping bags for women: they are specifically designed and designed to fit the contours of a woman. Compared to standard bags, the women-specific bags are shorter and narrower at the shoulders, wider at the hips and add extra insulation to the upper body and the foot box.


Sleeping bags for children

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when children have a good night’s sleep, then. Some models have an integrated cuff at the bottom of the bag. This holds the sleeping cushion so your child, bag, and pad stay together all night. (The other bags accomplish the same with cushion buckles that attach the cushion and the bag). Pillow pockets allow you to put on a jacket or backcountry cushion to create a comfortable place for the children to get up. The outside pockets on the bag keep the shelves of young explorers, MP3 players and camping memorabilia easily accessible.


Additional features of the sleeping bag


Shell and lining of sleeping bag

The outer shell of a cloth sleeping bags is typically made of nylon or polyester ripstop for durability. Many synthetic filling bags feature a shell fabric treated with a durable water repellent finish (DWR). DWR allows the water to pierce rather than soak through the fabric. The coatings, on the other hand, promote the dispersion of body moisture, so DWR is not used here.

To know if a shell has a durable water repellent treatment (DWR), rub a damp cloth over the surface. If the water goes up, then it has a DWR.

Sleeping bag hood

Camping in cooler temperatures? You will lose a lot of heat in your head. Consider a semi-rectangular bag with a built-in hood. When tightened with a pull cord, the hood prevents heat from moving away. Some hoods offer a pillow pocket that you can make with clothes to create a sleeping bag with pillow.

Stash pocket

This keeps small objects, such as an MP3 player, a watch or glasses, handy.

Sleeping Bag sleeve

On some bags, the insulation from below has been replaced by a sleeve to accommodate a sleeping cushion. The result: more rolling sleep pad in the middle of the night!

Pillow case

Most of us need a pillow for a comfortable sleep. Some bags include a “pillow pocket” that allows you to put your clothes inside to create a pillow. You can also buy camping pillows or, if you have room, simply bring your own pillow at home.


Sleeping bag storage bag


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Many bags come with a bag of tricks (sometimes sold separately) to easily carry your bag. New or replacement bags are now sized in volume (liters) in addition to the length/width dimensions.

Storage bag:

You can extend the life of any sleeping bag by hanging it in your garage or storing it in a cotton storage bag and not wrapping it in a bag. This long-term storage prevents the insulation from being permanently compressed, which reduces its insulating properties.

Lining for sleeping bag

Slide a soft sleeping bag liner (sold separately) into your bag to minimize wear and keep the bag clean. Padding in a liner adds heat from 8 ° to 15 ° F, allowing one bag to serve you in a wider range of temperatures. Camping in warm weather? Pass the bag and just sleep in the liner.