It is now the time of year when everyone is digging out their spring/summer gear and getting ready for their warm weather adventures. One major chore is cleaning your sleeping bag so that you can start this camping season with a fresh fluffy bag. At Rainy Pass Repair, we offer laundry services for both down and synthetic sleeping bags. We are happy to take care of this chore for you, but some people like to take the DIY approach. Here are some tips for cleaning your sleeping bags at home.

In this photo tutorial I will be showing how to launder a synthetic sleeping bag, which is a bit less complicated than cleaning down sleeping bags. I will insert some notes where the process for laundering down bags differs.

We recommend you use commercial washers and dryers whenever you are cleaning sleeping bags. A top loading washer can get the bag tangled in a knot, and home dryers usually don’t have a big enough drum to adequately and safely dry & fluff a sleeping bag. Your local laundromat should have machines that are similar in size and performance to what we use here at the shop.

Step 1- Assess Sleeping Bag Condition

Checking a sleeping bag for holes

Check your bag for any holes or damage before washing. If the bag is older, give a little tug at the baffle to make sure the stitching is strong enough to withstand the agitation of the washing machine. If you feel any ripping, you might want to reconsider putting it in the washing machine, or be ready to deal with broken baffles.

Step 2- Remove Sliders, Cover Velcro, Loosen Drawcords

Remove top stop on zipper

Remove the top stop with wire nippers.

Removing the sliders from a zipper.

Use pliers to remove sliders from zipper track.

Removed sliders.

Put the sliders in a safe place.

 

 

Small holes can be wrapped tightly with a rubber band to prevent further damage.

Small holes can be wrapped tightly with a rubber band to prevent further damage.

Cover any rough velcro to prevents snags.

Cover any rough velcro to prevents snags.

Be sure to secure drawcords, both on bags and stuff sack. cords can make the bags get tangled up in the wash.

Be sure to secure drawcords, both on bags and stuff sack. cords can make the bags get tangled up in the wash.

Step 3- Use the Appropriate Cleaning Product

We use ReviveX Pro Cleaner to wash synthetic sleeping bags. For down bags, we use ReviveX Down Cleaner.

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Step 4- Assess Bag After Wash, Check Dryer for Debris

Take the bag out of the washer and make sure it still looks good before you move to the dryer. If it is twisted, lay it out on a table and gently untwist to avoid damaging the baffles.

Check the inside of the dryer for any debris before you put the sleeping bag inside- a small flashlight is very helpful here.

Step 5- Dry the Sleeping Bag

IMG_1283Down sleeping bags need to dry for several hours on low heat. A few clean tennis ball will help to break up the down clumps so it dries and fluffs up faster. Throw in a thick, clean, dry towel to speed up drying.

Always use a large industrial dryer, and only dry one bag at a time. If the bags are too compressed in the dryer barrel, the fabric can burn from touching the sides of the metal barrel.

 

Step 6- Check Bag Partway Through Drying

Synthetic bags need to dry for 40 to 60 minutes on low- check after about 30 minutes, some will dry faster than others. Avoid leaving the sleeping bag in the dryer longer than necessary to avoid batting shrinking or shifting. Check around the hood and foot box to feel if the bag is totally dry.

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Down sleeping bags need to dry for 2 to 3+ hours, depending on the fill. Check after one hour and then every half hour. The bag is done drying when you can no longer feel any clumps in the fill. Avoid overdrying.

Step 7- Check Bag for Damage after Drying

After your bag is done, lay it out and check one more time for any snags or other damage. Sometimes down bags will have little feathers poking out- in most cases, you can just pull the feather bak in by grabbing it from the inside, through the opposite side of the bag. Use a tape roller to clean up any small feather residue.

Synthetic bags can sometimes become warped in the dryer, but in most cases, the batting just needs to be gently pulled back into place. Lay it out on a flay surface and gently pull the batting on either side until it lays nice and flat.

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Step 8- Replace Sliders

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You will need your pliers and a zipper stop (size 5 or 8) to replace your sliders. Make sure you replace both siders in the correct order- the slider with one toggle usually goes on the bottom, and the one that has 2 toggles or is reversible goes on the top. Rethread the sliders and add the zipper stop to the top to prevent it from falling off. Zipper stops are available at the following sites, or check your local sewing/craft retailer.

Wawak

Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics

Step 9- Proper Storage

Store your sleeping bag in a loss, roomy storage sack when it isn’t being used. Avoid storing in the compression sack for longer than needed- these are great for taking a sleeping bag on a trip, but over the long term, they can compress the down and the bag won’t be as fluffy and warm when you are ready to use it.

Questions? Call us at 206-523-8135 or email repair@rainypass.com.

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