How to Wash A Down Sleeping Bag 2024

How to wash a down sleeping bag

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This is a Complete Guide about How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag 2024.

Washing your down sleeping bag is important to ensure that it remains clean and the down retains its loft, warmth, and softness.

In this article, I will cover some key information on maintaining your down bag, including a step-by-step guide on how to wash it. I wash most of my sleeping bags on a yearly basis and as a result, I’ve washed more sleeping bags than I can remember over the years.

You can wash a sleeping bag or any Ultralight Sleeping Bags, Winter Sleeping Bag, or Ultralight Backpacking Quilts on the market using the information below. With proper care, they should last more than 10 years, even with lots of use. So, let’s find out how to wash your sleeping bag properly.

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How to wash a down sleeping bag

wash a down sleeping bag

Down Sleeping Bags are better than synthetic sleeping bags as they have a better warmth-to-weight ratio. But they do require regular washing to keep them like new.

  • Either Hand Wash or use a Front Load Washing Machine only – A Top Loading Washing Machine is not as gentle, even on the gentle cycle.
  • Add 100 ml of Nikwax Down Wash or similar to warm water in a large bucket or tub
  • Add the Down Sleeping Bag to the mix of warm water and Down Wash.
  • Turn the sleeping bag inside out and gently hand wash for a couple of minutes. Massage the cleaning agent into the sleeping bag and remove the worst body oils from around the neck, shoulder, and feet area of the sleeping bag. I like to hand wash in a bathtub to wash out the worst of the dirt and oils before transferring it to a front-loading washing machine.
  • Place the Sleeping Bag and Down Wash into the front load washing machine and set to a gentle cycle.
  • Optional step (Recommended) – When Finished, spray on a DWR Treatment to the outside of the sleeping bag. Use a product such as Nikwax TX Direct.
  • When finished add the Sleeping Bag to a large dryer on low heat (optional add clean Tennis Balls). It might take well over a couple of hours to become dry with the loft restored as good as new.

Keep Reading Below, you’ll find a very detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean your down sleeping bag, either by hand or in a front load washing machine. Read on!

how to Hand wash a Down Sleeping Bag 

Step one: To begin, start off by rinsing your bath tub or large laundry sink before filling it up with lukewarm water.

Step two: Next, you will need to add a specialist down cleaner to the bath and stir it around until it is evenly distributed throughout the water.

Step three: Once you have distributed 100ml of Down Wash throughout the bath water, it’s time to submerge your sleeping bag into the bath.

Step four: After leaving to soak for an hour or so, drain the water from the bath and refill again with fresh water.

Step five: Next, you will need to remove all the soap suds from your sleeping bag by gently massaging it.

You can do this by walking up and down the bag. However, you should make sure that you do not wring or squeeze the sleeping bag as this can significantly damage the down.

The key is to be gentle!

Step six: Continue this process until all of the soap has been removed from your sleeping bag, making sure to empty and refill the water as you go.

Step seven: Once the sleeping bag is free of all soap suds, drain the water from the bath. The sleeping bag may still be water logged so push down on a towel to remove all the remaining water.

Step eight (optional): While still damp, spray on a DWR Treatment to the outside of the sleeping bag. Use a product such as Nikwax TX Direct.

Step eight: Allow your sleeping bag to dry fully before packing it away again. Usually, a dryer on the low heat setting is the preferred method to dry a sleeping bag. Add 2 brand new tennis balls to assist with breaking up the clumps of down. The whole drying process will take a couple of hours in the machine.

Otherwise, it may take days to dry the sleeping bag properly if air drying.

How to Machine wash a down sleeping bag

Step one: Before putting your down sleeping bag in the front loading washing machine, you will need to run it through a rinse cycle to remove any previous soap residue from the bag.

Do Not have a Front Loading Washing Machine? Consider heading to a local laundromat store or alternatively booking a professional down washing service.

Step two: Make sure that you do up all the zips and velcro on the sleeping bag. It is also worth mentioning that if it has a waterproof shell, make sure that you turn it inside out.

Pro Tip: If you have a stubborn stain use a small amount of the Down Wash undiluted on the stain and massage the stain until it has been removed. If your Sleeping Bag is very dirty it may need to be washed twice. 99% of the time this is not needed – did you get into your sleeping bag covered in mud, sweat and dust!

Step three: Next, it’s time to place your sleeping bag in the front loading machine and add a Down Wash.

Important Information: Do not use normal detergent that you would use to wash your clothes. It will strip the natural oils from the down that is inside your sleeping bag and it will never be as good as new. Use Nikwax Down Washit is one of the best cleaners made for down feathers, as it has been specifically designed to not strip the feathers of their oil, while also not breaking down the DWR treatment across the exterior.

Step four: Always make sure that you wash your down sleeping bag at 30° or on a delicate cycle to be extra cautious. You don’t want your sleeping bag to be on a hot wash, as this can decrease the lifespan of the bag and also cause it to shrink.

Step five: Once the wash has finished, rinse thoroughly. Check your sleeping bag is completely rinsed by pressing down on it. If any soap suds come out, the bag will need to go back in the washing machine on a rinse cycle to ensure they are all out.

Step six: Before removing the bag from the machine, make sure you place several towels on the floor to soak up any water.

The down feathers are delicate and the sleeping bag heavy when wet, so make sure you support the length of the bag when moving to the dryer to avoid any damage.

Step seven: Allow the sleeping bag to dry properly before you attempt to pack it away again. Failure to do so could result in mold growth, which no one wants on a long camping trip away from your home comforts!

I prefer to leave my back out to dry for several days if possible before storing it again.

In summary

Drying a down sleeping bag

There you have it, how to wash a down sleeping bag in two methods! Make sure that you are using a specialist Down Wash for either process, as you don’t want to be in a position whereby cleaning actually damages your down sleeping bag.

I have used both methods and I prefer the speed and simplicity of using a front load washing machine.

What you will need to wash a Down Sleeping Bag?

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Clean And Care For My Sleeping Bag?

This varies with manufacturers, some available are machine washable. However, usually, a sleeping bag with down insulation is not suitable for machine washing.
Washing in the machine can also damage the structural integrity of the outer material, so always be sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Some may be machine washed on a cold setting, though, taking the time and care to handwash your sleeping bag is the safest option. Ensure that a minimal amount of soap is used, to prevent any build-up of residue on the inner or outer fabric of the bag.
Alternatively, you can buy specialized soap or detergent to ensure that the sleeping bag’s quality is not affected.

How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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