Sleeping Bag Care and Cleaning
Routine care for your down bag
By caring for your down bag you will ensure that it gives many years of faithful service. Like most of us, it doesn't like to be wet or trapped in a confined space for a long time. So these are the basic routines to follow.
- Store as loosely as possible when not in your pack. Most down bags now come supplied with a large cotton or mesh storage sack. If not, you can buy one or even make one!
- Air your down bag after use whenever possible before storage. Do this every day when in use if possible.
- If your down bag gets wet dry it as soon as possible and definitely before storing.
- Use a liner, silk for example, to minimise the need for washing the sleeping bag as this can be costly and time consuming. It's a lot easier and quicker to wash a liner.
Cleaning your down bag
You have three choices.
- Clean it yourself (feasible but requiring considerable time, effort and possibly money to put in a launderette dryer).
- Have it cleaned professionally (more expensive but almost certainly more thorough).
- Use a liner, for example silk, so it doesn't get dirty for a long time (barring mishaps)!
- Remember to check the washing instructions on your bag first.
If you decide to wash your down bag yourself the following are instructions from Nikwax.
- Use a dedicated down cleaning product eg. Nikwax Down Wash.
- Immerse item(s) in hand hot water in a bowl or bath tub.
- Apply by hand, agitate and leave to soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse under running water, drain and gently press the sleeping bag to expel excess water.
- To dry, and only if care label allows, spin dry 3 times and tumble dry on a high setting until all ‘clumps’ have disappeared.
- Use clean tennis balls (that won’t melt) in a clean pillow case to help break up clumps when drying.
The following are my additional thoughts having done this myself.
- You'll probably need to set aside at least half a day to clean and dry your bag properly.
- Unless you have a bowl the size of a bath then use a bath.
- You'll probably need to drain and refill the bath with clean water a few times to get all the soap out by gently moving the bag around.
- When removing your bag from the bath have a large bowl to hand, be gentle and prepare to get wet.
- You'll have to use a large tumble dryer as found in launderettes for anything except very small bags.
- Don't use the hottest dryer setting just in case it melts the shell fabric.
- You may find that it takes a surprisingly long time to drive every last drop of moisture out.
- Air your bag as thoroughly as possible after you've cleaned and dried it, preferably for a few days. If you are reluctant to clean your bag at home or fear damaging it we recommend that you have it cleaned professionally by either of the following companies:
WL Franklin (Sheffield) 01142 686161
Mountaineering Designs (Kendal) 01539 536333.