How To Wash A Sleeping Bag (Step by Step Guide)

If you enjoy climbing, trekking, or camping, then it is likely that your sleeping bag will see a lot of use. Over time, it will get dirty, and it can even start smelling. Regularly washing sleeping bags ensures they remain germ-free and continue to keep you warm. But, it’s important to know how to wash a sleeping bag so you do not cause any damage.

How To Wash A Sleeping Bag?
How To Wash A Sleeping Bag?

You can either hand wash your sleeping bag or use a washing machine to remove debris, sweat, and dirt. This article will highlight both methods of washing your sleeping bag.

Hand Washing Your Sleeping Bag

This process is useful if you don’t have a front-loading washing machine or your sleeping bag is not machine washable. To hand-wash your washing machine using a more delicate approach, you can use your bathtub.

The first step is to fill your bathtub with soap and cold water. The soap you use depends on whether your sleeping bag has synthetic materials or down filling. Use the appropriate soap (down soap for down-filled sleeping bags or synthetic soap for synthetic sleeping bags). Always use a mild detergent. 

Hand Washing Your Sleeping Bag

Regular detergent is too harsh and might harm your sleeping bag. Place the right amount of mild soap into the bathtub and then lightly stir the soap using your hand till it dissolves into the water.

If your sleeping bag has a waterproof lining, you should wash it inside out. It would help if you fastened the Velcro closures, and all zippers should be closed before placing the sleeping bag in the bathtub.

Press the entire sleeping bag into the water, allowing the soap to work into the bag. Doing this ensures that the sleeping bag is fully immersed in the water. You can use both hands to help you achieve this goal.

Leave your sleeping bag to soak for anything from half an hour to a full hour. You can periodically turn the bag to ensure it is completely soaked to enable the entire surface of the bag to get exposed to the soap.

After an hour, drain the water in the bathtub, refilling it with clean water. Once the bathtub is full of cold water, let it soak in the water for about 15 minutes to remove any residual soap.

Continue moving the entire bag around till there is no soap left. You can do this using your feet or hands. Check the bag to ensure all the leftover soap is gone.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag Using a Washing Machine

Synthetic sleeping bag

If your sleeping bag has synthetic stuffing, you need to get a fragrance-free soap created for synthetic insulation. You can check online or at your local grocery store for synthetic material specialty soap.

Moreover, you can use a mild no-fragrance soap. Always consult the label on the sleeping bag liner about how much soap you need to clean your sleeping bag.

Steer clear of liquid or powdered mild detergent, fabric softeners, and even bleach on your sleeping bags as they might leave a residue, damaging your sleeping bag material.

Washing sleeping Bag Using a Washing Machine
Washing sleeping Bag Using a Washing Machine

Down-filled sleeping bag

If your sleeping bag is down-filled, you should only use soap specially created for it. Refrain from using regular soaps and detergent as they can be too harsh on down stuffing.

Using soap for down can gently clean your sleeping bag stuffing. You can find down soap online or at your local hardware store.

Ensure that you follow the instructions on the packaging strictly when placing your sleeping bag into the washing machine.

Washing your sleeping bag

To machine wash your sleeping bag, always use a front-loading machine. If you don’t have a front-loading washing machine, you can head to your nearest laundromat to use or wash your sleeping bag by hand.

You need this type of washing machine as it is more gentle with your sleeping bag, cleaning it without damaging it.


First, rinse the washing machine out by running an empty gentle cycle. Doing this lets it remove any debris, residue, or soap in the machine, ensuring that none gets onto your sleeping bag.

If the sleeping bag has a waterproof lining, you will want to turn it inside out to ensure that it gets a decent clean, removing any body oils and sweat accumulated inside the bag. The zippers should be closed, and you should fasten all Velcro closures on your sleeping bag.

If your sleeping bag has drawstrings, you must loosen them to expose the fabric. You should also open the foot vent if your sleeping bag has one.

If your sleeping bag doesn’t have a waterproof lining on the inside, you can put it in with the right side up.

When machine washing your sleeping bag, ensure you do so using the lowest temperature on the gentle cycle. Place the sleeping bag with soap inside the washing machine. This gentle cycle should take about 45 minutes, depending on your washing machine.

Once this initial cycle finishes, you can add an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the soap is removed. You must run the washing machine at the same setting and temperature to completely rinse the soap from the sleeping bag.

Drying Out the Bag

Once you have washed and rinsed your sleeping bag using your bathtub or front-loading washing machine, it is time to dry it out. Your sleeping bag, when wet, can be pretty delicate, so you will want to be gentle when handling it. You can either place your sleeping bag into a dryer using the lowest setting for a cycle to get rid of the excess water. 

Drying Out the Sleeping Bag
Drying Out the Sleeping Bag

To speed up the drying process, you can place a couple of absorbent towels in with the sleeping bag. Completely drying out your sleeping bag might take 2 to 3 drying cycles, so be patient.

If you don’t have access to a dryer, you can let your sleeping bag air dry. To do this, lay it flat on a clean table outside. Alternatively, you can hang your sleeping bag onto a clothesline to help it dry. 

Place your sleeping bag where it is likely to receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Note that it might take two full days for your sleeping bag to be completely dry.

Once your sleeping bag is completely dry, you should refrain from rolling it up or putting it away. Leave it spread on the floor for a couple of days so the stuffing can fluff up. You will know your sleeping bag is ready to be put away when it feels fluffier.

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