Down sleeping bags are so comfortable and warm. I love when fall hits us and I get a chance to go camping. Waking up toasty in a down sleeping bag just makes for fond memories. The reason I like my down sleeping bag is that it’s light to carry and feels better than many other types of sleeping bags. The one drawback I find is that you just can’t toss it into a regular top loading washing machine like other sleeping bags. I know that because I made that mistake with my first down sleeping bag, and what a disaster!
The washer clumped up all the feathers; then I hung it up on the clothesline and all the down sank downward, leaving it lumpy. I ended up spending a lot of time trying to work the down feathers and spread it back out evenly but had no luck. Now I have learned how to properly take care of my down sleeping bag and would love to pass that on to you. Note that you can also use this cleaning method for your puffy blanket.
Keep It Clean
Some of what I have learned is to try and not wash your down sleeping bag. Keeping it clean is the first way to keeping it safe. If at all possible, use your down sleeping bag in a tent or on a tarp. Keeping the weather off of it will save you a washing. Also changing into some sleeping clothing before slipping into your sleeping bag will help.
Spot Cleaning your Down Sleeping Bag
You don’t always have to toss it in the washer. If you see a few spots that might have a little dirt or debris on it just use a rag. When you get home, use a rag moistened with a mild soap. This will usually take care of the spot, and then just drape it over something until it dries.
Air Out Your Bag
At times your bag won’t smell so fresh. If your bag still smells from your hike it may just need some airing out. Much if not all the smell will be blown away in the wind with a good airing out. The swampy smell will be replaced by mountain fresh air!
You can also use a front-loading dryer on the lowest setting to freshen up your down sleeping bag.
Washing Your Down Sleeping Bag
Ok, so you have a truly dirty bag. You were hiking in 100-degree weather, trekked through mud and hopped in your down sleeping bag with your boots on. Your significant other is making you wash it even though you don’t think it’s that bad. These are the best steps I have found that work.
- Spot wash the worst spots by hand with a rag and a mild soap.
- Make sure you zip up the bag all the way. If not, you may damage the zipper in the wash.
- Only use a front-loading washer! These washers are gentler and won’t beat your down up like a top load washer will. Agitators on a top loader are rough on sleeping bags.
- Is it really clean? The only way to tell is to keep an eye on the rinse water. It should be clean; if not, just put it through another rinse cycle. Do this until the water runs clear.
- Don’t ever hang your wet down sleeping bag on a clothesline! Use a drier for the final step. Using a front-loading dryer on the lowest setting will rejuvenate your down sleeping bag. I toss in some clean sneakers while drying to spread the down around while it spins. Let the down sleeping bag totally cool and feel for any dampness. If you think it may still be damp, repeat the drying process.
Now that you have your fluffy down sleeping bag back in shape, store it. I have a big sweater box that I put it in loosely. Never put it in a small container where it needs to be compressed or hang over something for long. The feather will be crushed and then you lose the fluffiness and insulation value. Taking good care of your down sleeping bag will assure that you stay warm, feel comfortable and have it for many years!