How to Keep Your Down Sleeping Bag Clean and Fresh

There are some people who don’t recommend washing a down sleeping bag while others suggest that doing so can actually bring life to its old loft. But according to me, just like all bedding products your sleeping bag also needs to be washed every once in a while. Every sleeping bag comes with its own washing instructions that should be followed, but I’ll share with you a few washing tips to get the best results.

Machine Washing

If you think it is the right time to wash your sleeping bag, follow this step-by-step guide to freshen it up.

  1. Prepare it for Washing

Check for any rips or small tears before putting your sleeping bag in the washing machine. If there are any, make sure you fix them first otherwise it will be damaged completely and down can come out during washing.

  1. Opt for Correct Washing Machine

For washing a sleeping bag at home, a front-loading machine without an agitator is required as agitators can cause damage to it. Most of the top-loading washing machines come with an agitator, which can be highly aggressive for a sleeping bag.

  1. Inspect your Washing Machine

Inspect your front-loading machine properly before using it. Check the washing drum for anything that may tear off your sleeping bag by running your hands around inside it.

  1. Zip up the Sleeping Bag

Make sure you fasten all the zippers and Velcro at the sleeping bag’s hood. If the external layer of your sleeping bag is treated with Durable Water repellent (DWR) coating, turn it inside out before you fasten the zippers. This will let the soap and water to enter inside the bag to properly clean it.

  1. Choose the Right Wash Cycle

Check the label on the sleeping bag for the washing cycle. Follow the instructions and set the wash cycle accordingly. Otherwise, set your machine on a mild wash cycle with a slow spin at 30°C.

  1. Drying

You can now tumble-dry it on a low setting.


If you don’t own a front-loading machine or you like washing things by your hands, cleaning a sleeping bag by hands is easy. Hand-washing provides you enhanced control over your expensive down sleeping bag than a washing machine.

  1. Fill the large sink or bathtub with warm or cold water.
  2. Mix the small amount of soap or suggested amount of down wash.
  3. Rub the dirtiest portion of your sleeping bag using a sponge. Concentrate on the part around the opening of the bag and hood as these collect the most dirt.
  4. Soak your sleeping bag for about 1-1.5 hour, depending on its dirt.
  5. Drain the sink or bathtub.
  6. Gently squeeze out the maximum water from the bag.
  7. Refill the sink or tub with clean water for rinsing. Agitate the sleeping bag using your hands.
  8. Again, drain the water, squeeze out the water and repeat until all the soap or down wash is gone and water appears clear.
  9. You can now let it air-dry in a shaded region. Lay out your sleeping bag flat on tarp or towels. Make sure you turn it in every 2-3 hours to enable the down redistribute evenly.

Washing a sleeping bag is not as complicated as it seems to be. Take your time and follow the above discussed and the manufacturer’s wash care tips for the best results. If it still feels it’s a tough task, get it cleaned by a bag cleaning service.




Chris shares his passion for cycling, hiking, skiing, and climbing from Buxton, in the Peak District. As a blogger for Outdoor Look, Chris shares outdoor tips and indoor tricks to help you get the most out of your time spent outside. When he's not out adventuring he's making videos or trying to keep up with his 4-year-old son.

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