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
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.