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How to Wash & Store Your Sleeping Bag

If you’re like me, you love a good camping trip. But let’s face it, after a few nights under the stars, your sleeping bag can start to smell less like fresh air and more like. Well, let’s not go there. So, how do you freshen up your bag without damaging it?

Fear not—I’ve got you covered. Washing a sleeping bag isn’t as daunting as it might seem. With a few simple steps, you can bring your bag back to life and ensure it’s ready for your next big adventure.

Preparing for Washing

There are several vital steps to ensure a smooth and effective cleaning process before throwing the sleeping bag into the washing machine.

First, empty all the pockets and shake out the sleeping bag. You’d be surprised how many campers find forgotten items, from trail snacks to flashlights, stuck inside their sleeping bags. A swift shake also helps to remove any loose dirt or debris hiding in the bag’s crevices.

Next up is spot treating. It’s essential to pay extra attention to any excessively dirty or stained areas. Many camping enthusiasts swear by gentle dish soap for this step, myself included. Add soap to these problematic areas and lightly scrub with a soft sponge or cloth.

Thirdly, fastening zippers or velcro ensures they aren’t damaged during the wash cycle. A loose zipper could snag the fabric of your sleeping bag, so secure all zippers and fasten any Velcro before proceeding.

Last but not least, it’s critical to check the washing label of your sleeping bag for any specific instructions, such as those referenced in the University of Florida’s post. Most can be machine-washed, but some delicate materials may require hand washing. Disregarding this can lead to damage and a quick end to your bag’s lifespan.

Alright! We’ve made it through the preparation stage. The pockets are empty, stubborn stains have been treated, zippers and velcro are secured, and we’ve double-checked the washing instructions. Now, our sleeping bag is ready for a wash. This might seem comprehensive, but investing time in preparation can save you time down the line and significantly increase the lifespan of your sleeping bag.

Checking the Care Instructions

Before submerging a sleeping bag into a tub full of water, looking for the care label is essential. Often hidden along the seam or stitched inside the bag, this label acts as a roadmap for ensuring the proper care of a sleeping bag.

This isn’t a step I’d recommend overlooking. Every sleeping bag is different, made with diverse materials and proprietary methods. Some might be delicate washing in warm water; this could spell disaster for others. Knowing the manufacturer’s instructions can reduce your sleeping bag’s wear and tear.

The label might provide directions on the following:

  • Water Temperature: Should it be warm or cold, or does it matter?
  • Cycle Type: Do you need a delicate, average, or perhaps hand wash cycle?
  • Detergents: Are there any recommended ones or any to avoid?

For instance, while synthetic sleeping bags often do well with gentle, non-detergent soaps, down sleeping bags might need a specialized down cleaner. Remember, these instructions are not suggestions; they’re designed to ensure the longevity of your sleeping bag.

Consider creating a table or a list if you have multiple sleeping bags to manage. Keeping information like brand, model, and care instructions handy helps when it’s time for cleaning. 

Taking the time now to decipher care instructions ensures a properly cleaned sleeping bag, ready for more camping adventures. If you need to look for a legitimate guide to know the laundry care code, the University of Florida has a great beginners guide. Let’s forge ahead now with the next step in our cleaning journey: preparing for the washing process.

Cleaning the Sleeping Bag

Now that we’ve ascertained the importance of following care instructions, let’s delve into cleaning your sleeping bag. Although specifics might differ based on the label’s guidance, a general process applies to most bags.

Preparation is essential. Begin by unzipping the sleeping bag and removing any loose dirt or debris. Any remaining particles can become lodged in the bag’s material during the wash cycle, compromising the sleeping bag’s efficacy.

Spot clean if necessary. If you notice soiled sections on the bag, it’s an excellent idea to spot-clean these areas before proceeding with the complete wash. Use a toothbrush and a mixture of water and mild detergent to scrub these spots gently. Remember to be gentle; overzealous brushing can damage the material or the insulating fibers.

Next, load your sleeping bag into the washer. No regular home washing machine? No problem. Many have succeeded in using commercial or front-loading machines, which provide a more gentle washing cycle. Conventional top-loading machines with agitators can damage your bag.

Your best bet would be to use a specialized cleaner designed for sleeping bags or down-filled products. Standard household detergents can be harsh and reduce the sleeping bag’s warmth and loft.

Once the correct detergent is selected, adjust the washing machine’s settings according to the care label and let the washing begin. Remember, patience is key here. Allow the wash cycle to finish. Resist any urges to speed up the process.

After the bag is washed, it’s time for drying. Drying a sleeping bag improperly can cause damage, while proper drying can enhance the loft and warmth of your bag. Therefore, critical attention to this phase is required, but that’s a topic we’ll cover in the following section.

Drying the Sleeping Bag

After thoroughly washing your sleeping bag, it’s crucial to take the right steps to dry it properly. This step is equally, if not more, important than the cleaning itself. Improper drying methods can severely affect the performance and durability of your sleeping bag.

A common question I encounter is: Can sleeping bags be tumble-dried? The answer is yes but with caution. Most sleeping bags are safe to tumble dry in a low-heat setting. Check the manufacturer’s care label for specific instructions, as some materials may not be suitable for this method.

When tumble drying, you can throw a couple of tennis balls into the dryer with the sleeping bag. This method fluffs up the fill, restoring the loft and ensuring an even distribution of insulation. It also speeds up the drying time! Think of it as giving your sleeping bag a mini massage to revive its warmth-retaining properties.

For those who prefer to air dry their sleeping bag, it’s best to do so in a shaded, well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight, as the UV rays can degrade the material over time. Ensure you hang the bag loosely to promote airflow and retain the bag’s loft.

While it might be tempting to speed up the drying process using a high-heat setting or direct sunlight, remember that patience is vital when drying your sleeping bag. High temperatures can melt synthetic materials, and direct sun can bleach and weaken the fabric over time.

Finally, wait to store the sleeping bag until it’s scorched. Storing a damp sleeping bag can lead to mildew growth, unpleasant odors, and material degradation. A properly dried sleeping bag guarantees a comfortable sleep and prolongs the bag’s lifespan.

Remember, proper care and maintenance of your sleeping bag ensure you’ll have it for years of adventures. Plus, an optimally functioning sleeping bag is essential for any outdoor enthusiast for a warm, comfortable night’s sleep under the stars.

Storing the Sleeping Bag

Now that we’ve mastered the drying process, it’s time to teach you how to store the sleeping bag effectively. It’s one of the most overlooked practices yet integral to maintaining the sleeping bag’s performance and lifespan.

Before we delve into the how-to, it’s critical to understand that a storage sack is a sleeping bag’s best friend. Unlike the traditional stuff sack, a storage sack allows optimal breathability and space.

Ideally, you’d want to use a cool, dry, dark room to store your sleeping bag. Garage, attic, or a damp basement? Forget it! These places are often too hot, cold, or wet, providing the perfect environments for mildew growth.

Your rules of thumb for proper storage are:

  • Don’t compact it to the point of crushing the insulation.
  • Never store it in a damp state.
  • Avoid tight spaces, which might breed mildew.

After ensuring your sleeping bag is 100% dry — inside and out — lay it flat. Then, loosely roll it or stuff it into the storage sack. Remember, it’s not about tightly packing the bag. It’s about allowing space for the insulation materials to breathe.

If a storage sack isn’t accessible, hanging it up is always possible. Closet rods or clothing racks work as a decent alternative. The dipping, drooping shape, although not visually pleasing, maintains the loft and insulation of the bag. In fact, this month minimizes the chance of insulation being crushed.

Storing the sleeping bag correctly should be considered. This attention to detail allows you to rely on your sleeping bag for countless outdoor adventures.


Taking the time to dry and store your sleeping bag correctly can make all the difference in its performance and lifespan. Remember, it’s all about breathability when it comes to storage. A well-ventilated storage sack is your best friend, and avoiding damp conditions is critical. Always allow your sleeping bag to lay flat before loosely rolling or stuffing it into its home. And remember, hanging it up between uses is a great way to maintain that all-important loft and insulation. Following these simple steps, you’ll ensure your sleeping bag stays in top-notch condition, ready for countless outdoor adventures.

Clotheslyne: Your Laundry Ally

Maintaining a clean and fresh sleeping bag is essential whether you’re an avid adventurer or an occasional camper. However, the task can take time and effort. Clotheslyne offers a convenient solution with free laundry pick-up and delivery services in select areas, including New York, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, and Massachusetts.

Our Clotheslyners are community members who understand the importance of caring for specialized items. They will wash, dry, and fold your clothes, including your precious sleeping bag, ensuring it’s ready for your next outdoor adventure. Let Clotheslyne handle the hassle of laundry day, providing professional care with the convenience of local service.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up.

You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!