Caring for your Sleeping Bags

Suggested Cleaning

Down lofts best when it is clean. It is possible to wash your sleeping bag, but it must be done carefully. We recommend the following procedure:

  1. Undo zippers and soak the bag overnight in a bath or large tub of lukewarm water.
  2. Hand wash using a non-detergent soap or one of the specially formulated down soaps available at Paddy Pallin stores. Gently knead the suds through the bag.
  3. If the bag is really grimy, leave it submerged in the soapy water for a few hours.
  4. Rinse with fresh water to remove all traces of soap. Keep rinsing with fresh water until you can’t see any more suds.
  5. Gently squeeze out all excess moisture while still in bath or tub.
  6. Carefully lift the soggy bag, placing your arms underneath it to support its entire weight, and place into a washing basket. Down is very heavy when wet and can cause damage to the internal baffles, so be very careful when moving the bag.
  7. Prepare a clean, dry area out of direct sunlight and carefully lay the bag out flat.
  8. Pat the down from both sides of the bag to help minimise down clumping.
  9. A down bag may require several days to dry completely. Hot, non-humid days are best.

An alternative method of drying your bag is to carefully load it into a large tumble dryer. Select low heat and the lowest speed. Don’t use dryers without heat settings. Adding a tennis ball helps to break up the clumps as it bounces around the drum of the dryer. Be aware that the bag will still take a long time to dry.

Dry Cleaning: The solvents used in dry cleaning can cause a reduction in the down's loft, and they are generally not environmentally friendly, so we suggest dry cleaning as a last resort. If dry cleaning is your only option, check with your local outdoor store for a recommendation, and ensure the cleaner uses only clean fluids and clear distilled solvents for the rinse. After cleaning, hang up the bag to air for at least a week to ensure any hazardous and toxic fumes have evaporated.

Synthetic-filled sleeping bags may be washed in a front loading washing machine using a mild detergent and the gentlest spin cycle. If using a dryer, choose the lowest temperature and speed. Before the bag is completely dry, remove it from the dryer and place outside to air dry.

In the Field

At Home

Whenever possible, leave the bag free to loft. This is vital if the down clusters are to retain their springy shape. So rather than leaving your bag tightly compressed in its stuffsack, store it loosely in the top of a wardrobe, or in a large breathable storage bag (available from Paddy Pallin stores). Alternatively, put it in a quilt cover and use it as a doona on the spare bed. Make sure it is stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Zippers

Most modern sleeping bags use nylon coil zippers which are 'self-repairing'. This means the teeth can move about a little so they are less prone to damage if snagged. If a snag occurs, carefully ease cloth out of zip teeth. Coil zips have rounded teeth that are less likely to chew your sleeping bag fabric.

When opening or closing a zipper it is best to use the pull tag inside the bag. Placing your hand between the cloth and the zip as you slide it will virtually eliminate snagging of the fabric. When joining zips back together make sure both sliders are hard up against each other before inserting the bayonet prong.

Sometimes a small amount of down may appear on the surface of a new down sleeping bag, particularly where the fill is a very high quality down. This is quite normal and will cease after the bag has been used a few times.