Sleeping bags should generally be kept as clean as possible, leaving them to airdry and ventilate after a trip’s use. Yet, inadvertently there will come a time when your sleeping bag will need a wash. It is highly recommended that you only wash a sleeping bag in a front-loading washing machine as even a gentle cycle on a top loader can cause damage thanks to the nature of the fabrics and the presence of zippers.
Nonetheless, given a few key considerations and some careful handling, almost any sleeping bag can be washed. Here’s a look at how to wash a down sleeping bag in washing machine. Follow our advice and you’ll have perfect results every time.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Machine Washing a Sleeping Bag
Do your best to spot clean any dirt or grime which may come in contact with your sleeping bag. Air after use, and use cleaning agents with care. Waterproof linings can be very delicate. However, eventually there will come a time when your sleeping bag needs to be machine washed. Follow these seven simple steps to have your sleeping bag clean and fresh and looking like new.
Rinse your sleeping bag
Undo all of the zips and Velcro and place your sleeping bag in the front loading washing machine and run it through a rinse cycle.
Close all the fasteners
Zip up and Velcro all of the fasteners. If your sleeping bag has a waterproof lining, then reverse it.
Add a cleaner purposed for cleaning sleeping bags
Add technical cleaner or a pure mild soap to the wash cycle. Never use a conventional detergent or fabric softener. Instead buy a cleaner intended for use on down or purposed for washing waterproof fabrics.
Run a delicate cycle
If your washing machine allows for temperature control, set it to 30°. If not, run a warm delicate cycle.
Check for soap
Once the cycle has run its course, manually wring out your sleeping bag and check for soap suds. If any are present run it through a rinse cycle again.
Carefully remove the sleeping bag
Ensure that you support the full weight of the sleeping bag when taking it out the machine. Fillings such as down and synthetics are both delicate and become very heavy when wet. Put down a few towels to catch any excessive dripping while carefully removing the bag.
Allow ample time to dry
Either place the wet sleeping bag in a tumble dryer and run it at its lowest temperature setting, or gently wring the bag out by hand getting rid of most of the water before leaving it out to dry on a washing line.
A wet sleeping bag can take a very long time to air dry so be adequately prepared, possibly hanging the bag undercover. Two to three days may be needed. Even in a dryer, it can take several hours before your sleeping bag is completely dry.
Machine Washing Tips
A top-loading washing machine can be used to wash a sleeping bag if the machine does not carry an agitator. If your washing machine has a spindle in the center of its drum, often fitted with fins or filters, then don’t run the risk of washing your sleeping bag.
If your model allows for the agitator to be removed then do so with care. It is however far easier, in most cases, to take your sleeping bag to the laundromat. Always supply your own cleaners and follow strict instructions if you won’t be washing it firsthand.
If you are going to be tumble drying your sleeping bag, throw a few clean, new tennis balls into the dryer. This ensures that there is no clumping while your sleeping bag dries which both protects its delicate lining and vastly decreases the drying time.
It is best to tumble dry your sleeping bag yourself rather than allowing a laundromat to take care of drying. Sleeping bags are simply too delicate to run the risk of having them damaged due to nothing more than too high of a dryer temperature setting.
Hand Washing is Highly Recommended
While machine washing a sleeping bag is needed from time to time, we highly recommend that you keep your sleeping bag in tip-top shape by hand washing it more often.
All you need is a mild pure soap or a detergent made for washing sleeping bags and other water-resistant fabrics and a bathtub. Always use lukewarm water to wash and rinse your sleeping bag, making 100% certain that it is free of suds before you let it dry.