Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Ask Kristin

How Do I Clean My Sleeping Bag?

What is the best way to clean my down bag? Should it be dry-cleaned or can I just throw it in the wash?

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

Question:

What is the best way to clean my down bag? Should it be dry-cleaned or can I just throw it in the wash?

Submitted by – Eric, Lakeside, MT

Answer:

First thing’s, first: Never dry-clean a sleeping bag. The harsh chemicals are bad for the coatings, insulation, environment, and probably a bunch of other things I’m not thinking of. Plus, it’s easy to wash your bag—down or synthetic. Here’s what I do:

First Step: Go to a 7-11 and pick up a couple of the latest gossip rags. Personally, I favor People and In Touch. A copy of the latest Backpacker is also highly recommended.

Second Step: Drive to the laundromat and stake out a big, front-loading washer. Load it with your dirty bag (all zippers and Velcro secured to prevent abrasion), and a good cleaner, like NIKWAX Down Cleaner or McNett Revivex Down Cleaner. Run through the gentle cycle using warm water. Enjoy the aforementioned magazines while you wait.


Third Step: Gently transfer your bag to a giant dryer and spin on LOW heat, to avoid melting synthetic shell fabrics and fixtures. Add a couple of clean tennis balls to create a pleasant tribal, drum-like sound and break up the down clumps. Be patient and bring lots of quarters; it may take a few cycles toget the job done.

By the way, if your bag is synthetic, all the same rules apply, just go with a soap like NIKWAX Tech Wash or Woolite, and skip the tennis balls.

How to Pack for Backcountry Skiing

Get to know the winter safety gear you need in your pack.

Keywords: