How To Wash a Down Sleeping bag

If you're like me and you spend dozens of nights out camping every year, then you should know that a neglected down sleeping bag is a smelly, unpleasant one.

Over the years, I've met tons of hikers like me, both beginners and veterans and I've heard this question so many times: how to wash a down sleeping bag'.

What most newbie’s don't realize is that you can't just plop a down bag into the Washing machine and resume your Netflix movie. Some fabrics inside are too delicate for that. You have to take special care and use special equipment when taking care of your down bag.

I remember when newly started hiking. I'd use my down bag very frequently without washing it. The smells coming out were so bad that it detracted from the whole experience of hiking.

So it all boils down to one important question: How do you effectively wash your down sleeping bag? Read on to the end of this article and you'll find out things you'll need to take care of your sleeping bag and how to manually Wash it without destroying the fabric

Things Needed to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag.

This is a list of things that you'll need to have with you if you plan On Washing your sleeping bag manually.

A good book or something will keep you busy. You might find yourself asking why you'd need a book to wash your down bag. The reason is that washing your sleeping bag manually takes a long time.

Around 4-6 hours. You'll need to keep yourself busy while waiting for the process to complete. You could even get a job done while waiting if you work online. If not, then reading a good novel while waiting (maybe Harry Potter?) is a good way to pass the time.

Down soap

Regular detergents won't cut it with a down sleeping bag. They're much too harsh as they will strip the oil from your sleeping bag. I recommend the Nikwax Down Soap which you can get from this link.

It is the preferred soap for Washing down sleeping bags because of its mild nature. You can get a 10oz container for just $10.95.

If you don't have access to any special down soaps, then you could make do with water too. There's a reason it's called a universal solvent. It is still preferable to use a down soap though as ordinary water might not get some greasy stains or smells out.

A Laundromat

Obviously, you'll need to take your sleeping bag to a Laundromat to get it cleaned. It is important though that you only visit a Laundromat with a large capacity or commercial-sized front loading Washing machine and dryer. This is important because the agitator in a top loading Washer is way too rough and may tear your sleeping bag. Don't say I didn't Warn you.

Now that you've gotten all the materials you need, it's time to actually wash your down bag. Follow the step by step instructions below to safely do so.

video by:McNettOutdoor

Step by Step Instructions on Washing Your Sleeping Bag

Step 1:

  • Preparing the Washer Before you get started, you will need to pre-rinse the washer. To do this, open up each of the front loaders and check inside for foreign material that could damage your sleeping bag.
  • When you find one without any foreign material, check the detergent dispenser to see if it still contains residue of any old detergent. If it does, clean it out thoroughly as this could damage your sleeping bag.
  • To be on the safe side, just go ahead and run an empty load to flush out any residue left

Step 2:

  • Washing the Down Bag. When you're satisfied with the state of the Washing machine, you'll then proceed to this step
  • Before you dump your down bag into the machine, you'll need to ensure that all the zippers on the bag are closed and all the Velcro fasteners are secured. Skipping this step might cause issues for you later. You've been warned.
  • For down bags with a waterproof exterior shell like a Gore-Tex, you will have to turn it inside out or else the Water will not get to the down. For normal, non-waterproof, down bags, you don't need to turn it inside out.
  • Now, set the temperature of the Water in the machine to low and set the cycle to delicate or something gentler. This is important because there are very delicate fabrics in a down bag that can get ripped easily.
  • Put in your down soap and wash normally. After the first Wash is completed, do the second one without any Soap whatsoever (down or not). This will make sure your bag is completely rinsed

Step 3:

  • Drying the Down Bag You're almost done. After your down bag has been thoroughly rinsed, inspect the front loading dryer you're going to use the same way you did the first time.
  • Set the temperature to allow setting and carefully place your wet sleeping bag inside it. Bevery delicate with it as a wet sleeping bag is very fragile.
  • Feed in quarters for 20 minutes. Check the bag after the 20 minutes is elapsed. Gently break up any clumps of down you notice on the bag and dry it again for another 20 minutes. Repeat this process until no down clumps remain.

Step 4:

  • Going Home when you're done at the Laundromat, don't go rushing your down bag into a stuff sack. Instead, spread it out and allow it to loft for at least 2 days before you use it again.
  • Always store it uncompressed.
So I Think You Got what I Said

And you're done! That wasn’t so hard was it? That is actually all there is to Wash a down bag. Did you enjoy this comprehensive tutorial?

Again, you should always make it a high priority to ensure that your down sleeping bags are always clean. By doing so, you'll be saving yourself from a host of unpleasant experiences like horrible smells and a host of skin diseases from germs on the bag.

Hiking is too important to me to allow something as simple as washing my down bag to ruin it for me. It should be the same with you too.

I'd love to hear from you. How easy did you find it following this article? Tellus in the comment section below and don't forget to share this with your friends. They might thank you for it.

If you find all these too stressful, you could always go with a professional down bag cleaning service such as RainyPass. Cheers!

Image credit :Amazon

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