How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Your sleeping bag goes everywhere with you while you are hiking. It is what you go to sleep in and wake up every morning. This means that your dusty skin has been in it night after night. Well, that accumulation of body oils, sweat, and dirt can really make for a smelly bag, but there is hope.

Your sleeping bag should be properly cared for after each weekend use. This means that you need to figure out the best way to clean it for it to last and be good to you for years to come.

Wash a Sleeping Bag

When you are thinking about washing your sleeping bag, it can first seem a little overwhelming. After all, this is a pretty heavy item once it is wet. Some people prefer to use a washing machine, while others prefer to use their hands in the bathtub or washtub. This is really personal preference and has little to do with how clean your bag will come out. If you are thinking about using your washing machine, though, be sure that your washing machine can handle the weight of a wet sleeping bag.

A top-loading washing machine should never be used when washing a sleeping bag.  And, you should never use your home dryer, as dryers are not made for this sort of weight.  What would be ideal is the hand scrub the top or head portion of the bag and the feet. Then, take it to a laundry mat where there are industrial-sized washing machines and dryers.  Never have your sleeping bag dry cleaned as the chemicals in the dry-cleaning will harm the fill.

Hand Washing is an Option

If you are looking to hand wash your sleeping bag, then take it to the bathtub or washtub if you have one. Never lift the sleeping bag by one end or another, or it may tear or rip. But, when the sleeping bag is in the tub, fill the tub with water and mild soap and kneed the sleeping bag. This will allow the water and soap to penetrate the bag and clean it thoroughly. When complete, you will need to fill the tub up and rinse the bag a couple of times. Never lift the bag by one end but keep it all in the tub. When you are ready to fully drain, start to knead the sleeping bag to get the water out. Do not ring it or roll it up, this could cause lumping and clumping with the sleeping bags filler.

Dry your sleeping bag

When drying, ensure that you have enough time and let it lay over a door or line inside. Your shower curtain rod is also a possibility. If this is possible, then put the ends into the shower for draining. You can also take it to a laundromat and use a large commercial dryer as well. Never layout in the sun, as the UV rays are harmful to the Nylon fabric.

When storing the bag, it is best to stuff it into its storage bag and not roll it. You should never leave the bag compressed for long periods of time and it should be allowed to breathe when in storage.

We hope these tips will help you have a clean and long-lasting sleeping bag.


I have been camping and going outdoors for over 15 years! My first experience was when I joined the scouts. There I learned a lot. From building a campfire to set up a really big tent. Then I know this is awesome. Around 2005 I also started Geocaching. This is a lot of fun. And every time we go camping we look at the map to see if there are some nice caches around.

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