How to clean your bed away from home (your sleeping bag)

How to clean your bed away from home (your sleeping bag)

If your sleeping bag smells worse than you and has stains from who knows what on it? For the sake of your tent mate and the bear who chose not to eat you because of its stench, please wash! Those body oils and specks of dirt in your bag are wrecking your sleeping bag and ruining the down and synthetic materials inside it. 

But don't worry, we have some tips to help you clean your sleeping bag!

Clean it in your bathtub
This option will take the most effort but is very effective if you do it right. 

First, turn your bag inside out and place it in a tub filled with warm water. It’s completely your decision if you want to play some Kenny G for it while it soaks. After 15 minutes of soaking, put the recommended amount of soap in the tub. Then, you can either take off your shoes and socks, and step on it like you're making wine in old Italy, or you can use your hands to help get the soapy water into the fabric. When you feel like your sleeping bag has been cleansed from that demon dirt, drain the water. 


Once drained, roll your sleeping bag and squeeze the water out, then fill the tub with warm water again, and knead your sleeping bag again so the clean water can get into the bag, then roll out the water. Repeat this till all the suds disappear. Once it looks good, put it in your dryer (if big enough) or take it to a laundromat ASAP. It may take a while to dry, so be patient and maybe listen to some Kenny G. 

Machine wash your bag
Before you do this, read your sleeping bag instructions to ensure your bag is okay to put in the washing machine.

The best washing machine to clean your sleeping bag is a front-loaded washer (the ones that open in the front, not the top). The top-loaded ones have an agitator column that can damage your bag.

Once you find the ideal washing machine, whether at the laundromat or your neighbor's house, (that one who owes you big since you gave them your last biodegradable wipe during your last camping trip), it's time to get it clean! Don’t use regular laundry detergent to wash your sleeping bag. There is soap made just for down and synthetic bags.

Once you have proper soap, unzip your bag and follow the washing instructions on your sleeping bag. Wash it at least twice, and when you remove it, do it gently and with support so it doesn't hang and ruin your down. 

Drying your bag
Whether you hand-washed your bag to Kenny G or put it in a front-loaded washing machine (we won’t judge you if you had to Google that), drying it in a large dryer is your best bet for optimal dryness, but follow the instructions on your bag. 

Find a dryer big enough to dry your bag in. Set your dryer on low heat to avoid melting those delicate nylon fabrics on your bag, and put it in the dryer. 

For those down sleeping bags, like ours at Near Zero, throw three tennis balls into the dryer to help the down stay agitated. Run as many cycles as needed on low heat, and once COMPLETELY DRY, store it in a clean and dry place. 

Final tips

  • Wash your bag at least once a year (dependent upon times used).
  • Avoid dry cleaning it, especially a down sleeping bag.
  • Wash your sleeping bag at the end of the season so that dirt and grim aren't in your sleeping bag all winter. 
  • Spot-clean your bag when possible.
  • Sleep in it with clean clothes and keep yourself clean with our hygiene kit.
  • Use a bag liner to prevent dirt build-up.
  • Air your bag out whenever it gets damp.

We want you to enjoy the outdoors and feel comfortable in your sleeping bag! Our bags are great for all kinds of weather and easy to clean, so even in the comfy indoors, you'll have zero stress when washing and maintaining your sleeping bag. 

Leave a comment