No one wants to sleep on a grimy sleeping bag or one that smells like dirty socks. So, here are ways you can do to make it last long, smelling fresh and clean.
Wear clean sleepwear
I know this one’s a given. But it can be tempting to crawl into the bag after a day of hiking or camp cooking while wearing the same clothes.
It’s not only unhygienic. But sweat, body oil and dirt can also go into your sleeping bag and affect its insulation. So, freshen up and slip into clean clothes.
You won’t have to wash your bag as often that way. And you’ll sleep better, too.
Use a sleeping bag liner
A liner is like a bedsheet to a mattress. It works as a barrier between your skin and the bag. After camping, all you have to do is wash the liner, which is way easier than cleaning a synthetic or down-filled bag.
But this accessory not only keeps your bag clean. Depending on the liner type, it can add insulation and comfort, too. You can check out these winter camping tips, too, on how to stay warm.
Make sure to choose well when buying bag liners. Their size and material can add bulk to your pack.
Consider using a sleeping mat
A sleeping pad or mat keeps our bodies away from the cold ground, making us feel better and warmer. But that’s not all.
It also protects your sleeping bag from dirt as well as sharp stones and sticks. Like the bag liner, a sleeping mat has several types, too. So, look for one that suits your camping needs.
Treat your bag with proper care
Jumping around with your bag on may be fun, but it will also ruin its toe box. And if you plan to sit by the campfire while inside your bag, do it with an older one. Having burn holes on your brand-new gear is the last thing you want.
Don’t yank the zippers, either. Practice using them before your camping trip. That way, you can zip up even in a dark tent.
Now, what if someone wants to borrow your bag? Well, it’s a personal item, so it is understandable if you have to be picky about lending. Make sure to show your friend how to use and pack it. Also, ask them to use a liner.
Proper Cleaning and Washing
Do regular spot cleaning
Spot cleaning should be your go-to unless your sleeping bag has become exceptionally dirty. That’s because constant washing increases wear and tear. It also decreases loft.
Here’s how to do it:
- Apply a bit of mild soap onto the spot you want to clean. You can also create a paste of soap and water.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the area. When doing this, hold the liner or shell away from the insulation to avoid getting the inside wet.
- Once clean, use a wet sponge to rinse the spot.
Your spot cleaning focus should be on the head and foot areas. Also, don’t worry if you wet the fill during spot cleaning. Just give your sleeping bag additional airing time before storage.
Wash grimy bags by hand or machine
Before washing, check the care instructions first and follow them. Also, inspect your bag for any holes or tears that need fixing.
Now, if you’re washing your bag by hand:
- Fill your tub (or bathtub) with warm water. Add the appropriate soap or cleaner for your down or synthetic sleeping bag.
- Lay your bag into the soapy water and use your hands to work the suds into it.
- Allow the bag to soak for 1 to 2 hours. Flip it to the other side every so often, rubbing heavily grimy spots.
- Drain the soapy water, then roll your bag into a log to press out the excess water. Make sure not to wring or twist it.
- Refill the tub with clean water and start rinsing your bag. Let it drain for a few minutes before rinsing it again until you get all the soap residue out.
- Gather your washed bag into a ball and put it in a spin or tumble dryer. You can also lay your bag on a clean surface outside for air drying. Make sure to check and break any clumps that form.
If you prefer to wash it in the machine:
- Use a front-loading washing machine that’s big enough for your bag. Wash it on a gentle cycle in warm water with the proper soap.
- You can throw in other clothes like shirts or towels to balance the spinning of your machine.
- Run it on a wash-and-rinse cycle at least twice before putting it in the spin dryer.
You may also opt to send your sleeping bag to professional cleaning services.
Follow washing dos and don’ts
- Wash with a top-loading machine without an agitator to avoid ripping the seams.
- Store your bag when it is thoroughly dry.
- Set your dryer on the lowest temperature setting.
- Do not dry clean your bag. Dry cleaning solvents can affect its loft.
- Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
Proper Storage and Repair
Air out your sleeping bag
When you get home after your outdoor adventure, immediately air out your bag to remove any moisture. Place it away from direct sunlight as it can degrade the fabric.
Once dry, store it loosely in a mesh or cotton sack. You can also sew a cotton bag or use a large pillow slip. Avoid keeping your bag in a compression stuff sack as it can damage the fill.
Fix small tears or broken zippers
If you’re still out camping, a quick remedy is to sew up the hole by hand. You can also use a wound bandage from your first-aid kit.
Remove the hand stitching or bandage when you get home, then repair it with a sewing machine. For larger holes or broken zippers, consider asking a professional for repair.
Keen to learn more about which sleeping bag is for you? Check out my reviews and buying guide!