How To Wash A Sleeping Bag [Without Ruining It]

May 10, 2022
by Jack Lyons

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Bedding needs to be washed. No matter what happens, the newly left home or the content with the minimum think, bedding gets dirty even if covers protect it.

Therefore, a few times a year, people will begrudgingly wash duvets, blankets, and pillows. While the result is nice, the process is an absolute chore. 

However, this courtesy is not extended to sleeping bags or other such sleeping equipment that we use outdoors, which seems strange considering it probably gets dirtier than any other piece of bedding. Most people don't clean them because they don't know how to wash a sleeping bag and just throw it back in with their camping gear and move on.

While sheets and covers are the same material as most of our other clothes, sleeping bags are designed for the outdoors and have different components. So, how do you wash a sleeping bag? 

In this article, we seek to answer this question and help you through the process of washing your outdoor bedding. 

How Frequently Should I Wash My Sleeping Bag?

To start off, let's look at how frequently you need to wash your sleeping bag. It's pretty much up to you.

If you're camping out every weekend, you may want to wash your sleeping bag after each trip.

However, if you only go on one or two trips per year, then you can get away without washing it. 

Of course, if you're going to be doing lots of camping, then you'll definitely want to wash it more frequently.

In fact, some people suggest washing their sleeping bags once a month.

This is because they believe that keeping the sleeping bag clean helps prevent it from developing mildew.

This could also be true—but it's not proven. Mildew actually comes from being wet, so if you keep your sleeping bag dry, it shouldn't develop mildew no matter how long you leave it outside.

The problem here is that most campers don't realize this. They assume that just putting the bag inside when it rains means that it's been protected from getting wet, but this isn't necessarily the case. 

Some campsites will allow you to bring your bag into the shelter, but others won't.

For example, if you're staying in a tent, then your sleeping bag will almost certainly get wet.

Even if you're in a cabin, you may still get wet due to rain showers or condensation.

Regardless, there's no harm in washing your sleeping bag occasionally.

Just make sure you dry it thoroughly before using it again. You can do this by hanging it out to dry or airing it out.

Either way, make sure you protect it from direct sunlight. 

What Kinds of Things Should I Wash My Sleeping Bag With?

Woman carrying a sleeping bag

When it comes to washing your sleeping bag, there are various options available.

You can either buy special detergent specifically made for sleeping bags, or you can use whatever soap you normally use in the house.

What kind of soap you use depends on what type of sleeping bag you own.

There are three main types of sleeping bags:


These are usually synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, or rayon.

They're very easy to care for and tend to hold up well over time.

They're great for cold weather camping since they're windproof, waterproof, and breathable.

Furthermore, they also tend to be very durable. When choosing fleece, make sure to pick a known brand for its quality.


These are similar to fleece sleeping bags, except they're made of down feathers instead of synthetic fibers.

Down sleeping bags are generally warmer than regular ones, but they're not quite as durable.

Like fleece bags, they're comfortable and windproof.


These are often thinner than thermal sleeping bags and made of lighter-weight fabrics.

They're generally less expensive than the other two types of bags. Because of this, they're great for lightweight backpacking where you're carrying heavy packs.

If you decide to use your normal soap in your sleeping bag, make sure to read the label carefully before buying it.

Some brands of soap contain chemicals that are harmful to sleeping bags. Make sure you find one that doesn't have any of these ingredients.

If you choose to use a special detergent for sleeping bags, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Many different products claim to be “sleeping bag safe,” but most of them aren't really. Only a few companies make detergents that are specifically designed to be used on sleeping bags.

How To Wash A Sleeping Bag?

Before washing your bag, take some time to clean it properly.

You should remove all the dirt and sand that might have gotten stuck in it. This includes dried mud and leaves.

If necessary, use a brush to loosen any stubborn spots. Once you've done that, put your sleeping bag in the washer with warm water.

If you live in an area where freezing temperatures occur, fill the tub with hot water. Don't exceed 30 °C (86 °F) because this can damage your sleeping bag.

Let the machine run until the cycle ends. Then drain the water and let the bag air-dry. Afterward, hang it somewhere to dry completely.

Can I Wash A Sleeping Bag After It Has Been Used?

Yes, you can wash a sleeping bag once it has already been used. However, make sure you only wash it if absolutely necessary.

Washing too will often shorten the lifespan of your sleeping bag. It may even cause some problems.

For example, washing a sleeping bag frequently could lead to mold growth.

Mold is something you don't want inside your sleeping bag.

You can also keep your sleeping bag in the sun to help dry it out.

The heat will kill off any bacteria and mildew that might be growing inside it.


It is surprisingly easy to wash a sleeping bag, and in fact, anyone can do it. 

You need to be aware of the soaps you use, the temperature you wash the bag at, and how frequently you wash the bag itself. 

Once you have worked out those kinks, you can wash it as you would regular clothes.

Related: How To Get Creases Out Of Shoes [Goodbye Pesky Wrinkles]

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