Sleeping Bag Care

If your sleeping bag has gotten a lot of use recently, maybe it is time to give it the care and attention it needs. Often times after a camping trip, people who use their sleeping bags are inclined to simply throw theirs in the basement or up in the rafters in its sack without even cleaning it. One of the most important rules to follow in sleeping bag care is that once you are home and not using your sleeping bag anymore, you should remove it from its stuff sack. If it stays stuffed for an extended period of time, the insulation in the sleeping bag can get ruined and the bag will lose its loft and insulation potential. Instead, keep your sleeping bag in a mesh sack, if you have one or just loose over a hanger.

Some Storage Alternatives

Campmor Laundry BagAnother option is to store your sleeping bag in a large, open trash bag or laundry bag. This will not harm the insulation, so that next winter, when you need warmth during sleep, you will have your bag ready to go. Make sure that if you use a garbage bag for storage to keep it open. There’s a possibility that there may be a small amount of moisture on the sleeping bag, and if it is wrapped up and sealed tight, the moisture will stay on the sleeping bag. This can then result in the growth of mold or mildew.

Proper Washing

If your sleeping bag has gotten dirty on your camping trip or just needs to have the insulation freshened and re-lofted, you can wash it. Whether your sleeping bag is synthetic or down, you can wash the bag in a large-capacity, front-load washing machine like those found at a laundromat. An important step to remember is to unzip the sleeping bag completely before you put it into the washing machine. When you are washing it, use cold water with only a small amount of laundry detergent so that it rinses thoroughly. Tumble dry in a large, front-load dryer, like you would find at a laundromat, on low heat setting. Throw several clean tennis balls into the dryer with your sleeping bag. The tennis balls bounce around and break the wet matted insulation up, as the bag dries, restoring the bag’s loft. Keep a watchful eye on the temperature in the dryer to ensure it’s not getting too hot, preventing the shell fabric and insulation from melting. If you have any questions on laundering your sleeping bag, you can contact the manufacturer and they will let you know the best way to clean your bag.

Sleeping Bag Repair

Sleeping Bag RepairSometimes, where you use your sleeping bag can have some unintended consequences, resulting in rips or burn holes. If you experience an accident like this, a sleeping bag repair can be easily made. Repair tape is an inexpensive option to have on hand to patch up any holes caused by a rip or burn. Cut a piece of tape larger than the area of the hole or rip. Cut the corners to round the patch, reducing the likelihood of the corners lifting off the patch area. Hold the area to be patched flat without any creases. Apply the tape and smooth with a pencil or other suitable rounded stick and smooth the tape in multiple directions to make sure the tape does not have any air bubbles. Voilà, your burnt hole in the sleeping bag shell or tear from the thorn bush you draped the bag over that night your tent leaked has been fixed for many more years of service.

With care and proper sleeping bag maintenance, you can expect years of enjoyment and proper function from your bag. A little effort now means a lot of savings and happy nights in the great outdoors, in the long term.

Although we’ve covered a couple of neat ways on taking care of a sleeping bag, many campers have different approaches. Please, let us know how you take care of your sleeping bag in the comments below.


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  • Ken from Vienna

    I store my family’s bags in large, sturdy cardboard boxes left over from internet purchases (mostly Campmor boxes I have to admit ;-). I choose a size large enough that the bag is not compressed at all. These stack and fit nicely on the basement shelves where we keep our tents (stored loosely in similar boxes) and other camping gear.