A good down sleeping bag can be very expensive – you most definitely want to be sure that you care for it properly. To care for it properly, you want to be sure that you wash it when it needs to be washed, and that you wash it correctly. Of course, realize that your down sleeping bag will lose a little of its loft each time you wash it, so wash it sparingly.
A down sleeping bag is not like a pair of underwear – you do not need to wash it after every use! But you may want to wash it at the end of the summer or after a particularly long and stinky backpacking trip. To prevent having to wash your sleeping bag, keep it clean – use a liner or wear clean clothing to bed.How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag is one of the authority sites on this topic.
·Good news! You do not have to make a trip to the dry cleaners to wash your down sleeping bag… of course, you may need to take a trip to the Laundromat. In fact, do not dry clean your bag!
·The most important tip for washing your bag is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This is true with both down sleeping bags and synthetic sleeping bags.
·It is best to wash your bag by hand, but sometimes it is just so much easier to wash it in the machine! To wash it by hand, fill up a bathtub with warm water and a mild soap (a few examples are mentioned below). Allow it to soak for about 15 minutes, drain the tub, and press (don’t wring) out the water in your bag. Rinse the bag in cold water, press out the water, and continue to repeat this. If you do wash it in the machine, more tips follow:
·If you just need to clean up a few stains or spills – clean them up when they occur. There is not reason to put your bag through the strain of the machine if you do not need to. If you waited too long, be sure to pre-treat the stains before you load up the machine with your bag.
·Take the time to go to a Laundromat to wash your bag – unless you happen to have a front-load machine at home! If you feel that your washing machine at home is large enough, be aware that washing your bag in it can cause wear on both your bag and your machine…
·Zip up your sleeping bag before washing it.
·Do not use your regular, harsh detergent. Rather, use a mild soap like Woolite, Ivory Flakes, or Nikwax Down Wash. There is no reason to add bleach or fabric softener.
·Realize that your bag is going to soak up the soap that you put in with it, so after the first cycle, but it through a second cycle without soap. This way you can be sure that all the suds are washed out. (You can wash your bag by hand, in the bathtub in warm water, but it is very difficult to get all of the suds out!)
·Make sure that the soap is all out (it should be, after the 2nd cycle). Soap can cause clumping or a loss of fluffiness.
·Do not wring the water out of your sleeping bag. You can take a towel and press the water out.
·Transfer your down bag to the dryer – that’s right! It can go in the dryer. Air drying is safest, but a dryer is faster! Just be sure to use low heat – you certainly do not want to melt any of the synthetic fibers.
·Do not fear when your bag comes out of the first dryer cycle lumpy – this is only because it needs to be put through the dryer multiple times before it completely dries. The lumps are not the result of the dryer ruining your bag. Rather, they are the result of the feathers remaining wet.
·Place a tennis ball in with your bag in the dryer when it is nearly dry – this will help fluff the down.
·Make sure that your down bag is completely dry before storing it.
·Do not store your bag in its tiny stuff sack – keep it in a large sack so that it has room to breathe and does not lose all of its fluff.