General Sleeping Bag Maintenance Tips


Before rolling up that sleeping bag after use, shake it out to remove any debris, loose dirt or bugs that may be on or in it. If possible, also air the bag out by hanging it over a clothesline or tree branch on for a while on a dry day. If the weather isn't cooperative when you are ready to leave a campsite, air the bag out at home over a chair, instead. This helps remove odors such as campfire smoke.

  • Whether you wash your sleeping bag with a machine or by hand, when your bag is absolutely dry, be sure to store it loosely in a large mesh storage sack, which is often included when you purchase a sleeping bag. Do not store your bag compressed.

  • The more you fully wash your sleeping bag, the more the fabric and loft will eventually degrade. Sometimes, all your bag needs is a spot wash around areas such as the head or footbox. To do this, apply a small amount of down soap to an area and use a toothbrush to scrub away the grime. When completed, wash with a sponge. If possible, hold the fabric away from the down filler to minimize getting the down wet. It's ok if you do, you'll just need to give it adequate time to dry before storing your bag.

Keeping the Bag Clean

Since washing a sleeping bag can be a bit of a hassle, do your best to keep it relatively clean while you use it. Don't wear the day's hiking clothes to bed when out at a campsite, as whatever dirt and debris soil that is in your clothing can also make a mess of the sleeping bag. Slip into clean garments before crawling into your sleeping bag for the night. A sleeping bag liner is another excellent option, especially for a down-filled bag. This keeps the inside of your bag stays nice clean even if you aren't.

Use a pad beneath your sleeping bag instead of setting the bag directly on the ground. A pad protects the bag from snags and dirt while offering a bit of insulation and padding beneath your body.

A sleeping bag can also be spot-cleaned when necessary. The area where your head rests is particularly susceptible to hair oils and dirt.

To clean this area, first, gently wet the affected spot, pulling the shell away from the fibers, since the shell is the area that's dirty. Then, apply a dab of a detergent designed for delicates, and scrub it with an old toothbrush or a fingernail brush. Rinse the soap off, again doing your best to wet only the bag's shell. Allow the bag to air dry.


Store your sleeping bag in an oversized breathable sack when not in use.

Tightly compressing your sleeping bag for long periods of time can damage the down/synthetic insulation over time, causing a loss of loft and potentially affecting the warmth retention capabilities of your sleeping bag. Only compress your bag when necessary for backpacking or transportation purposes.

When you get to camp, make sure to decompress your bag by leaving it unrolled and flat for a few hours (or as much time as you can) before using it — this will enable the down to loft back up and create a nice, puffy effect for a cozy sleep when you’re ready for bed!