Can you wash sleeping bags in a washing machine?

Most sleeping bags can be washed in a washing machine. You should use a delicate cycle, mild detergent, and cold water settings. Additionally, you can set the washer to a low spin setting and add an extra rinse cycle in the process.

Moreover, front load or HE washing machines with large capacities are the most preferred choices for machine washing sleeping bags.

You can refer to the manufacturer’s care label instructions before washing.

Key Takeaways

  • For machine washable sleeping bags, simply keep two things in mind the size of the sleeping bag as well as the washing machine’s capacity to accommodate them. Your washer should leave ample room for agitation.
  • When machine washing sleeping bags, a front-load washer or a washing machine without a central agitator is the best option.
  • If your washer is not capable of handling sleeping bags, simply take them to a laundromat to use a commercial washing machine. Alternatively, you can hand wash your sleeping bag at home.
  • Don’t forget to read the care label before washing, as the procedure for washing a waterproof fabric may differ.
  • Always Air-dry the sleeping bag to retain its shape and fluffiness.

What is a sleeping bag?

A sleeping bag is a foldable bedding that provides an insulated covering for a person while sleeping. It is a lightweight bed covering that can be closed with a zip to form a container that accommodates a person.

Sleeping bags are usually light and easy to carry, so they are popular with campers and hikers.

They typically have a waterproof outer layer and a warm inner layer, and some also have built-in pillows and liners.

You can sleep comfortably inside these bags while keeping yourself protected from environmental conditions.

Common types of sleeping bags

In terms of materials, synthetic bags comprised of cotton, polyester, and natural fibers such as down (feathers) are the most prevalent. Moreover, they come with waterproof and dust-resistant layers over the surface.

These are some of the most common types of sleeping bags often used by campers and hikers.

Seasonal Sleeping Bags

When camping in colder weather, it is important to choose a sleeping bag that is appropriate for the temperature. 

Cold-weather sleeping bags are typically made with synthetic insulation or down fill and have a higher loft (the amount of space occupied by the bag when fluffed up).

In cold weather, the inner layers have the capacity to trap heat inside of them.

Warmer weather sleeping bags, on the other hand, are typically made with cotton or other breathable fabrics and have a lower loft.

Instead of using down insulation inside them, these bags contain soft cotton padding.

Inflatable sleeping bags

Sleeping bags are also available in the form of an inflatable bag, which becomes easy to carry when deflated.

One should be very careful while using inflatable sleeping bags and prevent their surfaces from tearing with sharp objects.

These types of sleeping bags are ideal for indoor use or can be used inside your camping tents.

How to spot clean a sleeping bag?

By spot cleaning your sleeping bags, you’ll not only avoid the hassle of washing them every time but also prolong their life.

Instructions to spot clean a sleeping bag

Follow the below instructions to spot clean your sleeping bags safely.

Step 1: Prep work

Simply place a large sheet on the floor and place your sleeping bag over it. Make sure to unzip and lay them wide open to their maximum capacity.

Step 2: Remove excess dust

Pat the outer areas to remove excess dirt from their surface.

You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a low suction setting to remove dust from its surface.

Make sure to work on its edges and do not forget to flip the bag to work on the reverse side too.

You can also wipe the surface with a soft damp cloth or simply use wet wipe napkins.

Next, use a dry towel and wipe off the surface in a gentle manner.

Step 3: Stain removal

Track all the areas for stains and start treating them using mild detergent and water.

While you use a stain remover or detergent, make sure to use them in the lowest quantities compared to a regular fabric stain treatment.

Apply the desired solution over the stains with a few drops of water and leave it to settle for a couple of minutes.

Now use a soft sponge and start rubbing over the stains. Next, wipe off the surface with a dry cloth.

Then, pour a few drops of water and wipe the area with the sponge from the dry side.

Lastly, make sure to completely air dry the sleeping bags before you store them away.

If the stains are stubborn, then do not overwork the surface.

Note: Don’t use soaps with added fragrances or bleach.

How to Machine wash a sleeping bag?

how to machine wash sleeping bags

For machine washable sleeping bags, make sure your washer is capable of accommodating them, and avoid using a washing machine with a spindle agitator rod inside its washtub.

Furthermore, do not attempt to force place the sleeping bag in a compact washing machine.

Sleeping bags made out of synthetic materials such as cotton or polyester are best suited for machine washing (read the care label to be on the safe side).

Step 1: Unzip the sleeping bag

Unzip the sleeping bags before loading them into the washing machine and remove the liners if any. Wash the liners separately.

You can insert the sleeping bags by reversing or turning them inside out to expose the inside surface, or simply place them unzipped.

Make sure they are open entirely so that air can circulate and the down filling doesn’t get matted.

Alternatively, you can add a couple of tennis balls to the washtub to help fluff the filling.

Step 2: Add a mild soap

Prefer using a detergent that does not contain a bleaching compound or any harsh chemicals.

Simply use a detergent suitable for delicate fabrics or a natural detergent will do the trick.

Alternatively, using distilled vinegar can get rid of odor-causing residues from its surface.

Note: If your sleeping bags are waterproof and if the care label recommends not using any detergents, then you may be better off using a waterproof-friendly detergent like Nikwax Tech Wash.

Step 3: Use cold water settings

Always use cold or warm water settings during the wash to avoid damaging the fabric layers and their insulated paddings.

Step 4: Low spin speed and extra rinse

Set the spin speed to the lowest and add an additional rinse cycle to discharge excess detergent suds.

Step 5: Place a few towels with the sleeping  bag

Add the sleeping bag to the washing machine, and if the space allows, you can place a few towels for even distribution during the spin.

Now, run the wash cycle and keep it on the shorter side when it comes to washing duration.

Note: You can also include its pillow during the wash.

Step 6: Dry your sleeping bag

Usually, the standard clothes dryer has a smaller space compared to washing machines.

So, if your dryer is smaller and the size of your sleeping bag is on the larger side, you may need to stick to the air-drying method.

If the care label suggests tumble drying and if your dryer can accommodate the sleeping bag, you can use a delicate setting using the lowest heat.

Hence, make sure the dryer accommodates the sleeping bag, or else simply opt for air drying.

Although air drying may take longer, it is said to be the best practice for drying sleeping bags. This helps to retain their fluffy insulation.

Place a large towel or multiple towels on a dry surface and lay them flat. Next, place the sleeping bag over them and give them a gentle press to let the towel soak out some water.

To ensure even drying, repeat the process on the reverse side of the bag.

Now, simply lay the sleeping bags flat on a dry surface or hang them to air-dry naturally.

If you are hanging your sleeping bags over a clothesline, do not expose them to the sun for too long, as they will fade.

Once the sleeping bags are dried, pat the bag using your hands to fluff it up and retain its shape.

How to hand wash a sleeping bag?

  • Fill your tub or sink with cold water and a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics.
  • Submerge your sleeping bag in the water and gently swish it around for a couple of minutes. 
  • Then, let it soak for about 15 minutes so that the solution works on the dirt accumulated over the inner surfaces.
  • Swish them before you drain the tub or sink.
  • Rinse the sleeping bag several times with clean water to discharge excess suds from the surface.
  • Gently squeeze out excess water and place some towels to soak up the remaining water. 
  • Place it over a clothesline or you can lay it flat to air dry.
  • Avoid placing your sleeping bag (especially one made of down fabric) in a dryer, as the heat can damage the down.

Note: Not all detergents may be suitable for your sleeping bags, so read the care label before using any detergents. If you are washing a waterproof sleeping bag and the care label is not clear, try sticking to something like Nikwax tech wash.

Also Read: How to wash a laptop bag?

How do you maintain and store your sleeping bags?

When not in use, sleeping bags are stored for a long time, so they need to be treated with care to stay in shape.

  • You should store your sleeping bag in a cool and dry place when not in use.
  • Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or in damp conditions, as this can damage the fabric and affect the insulation.
  • You can protect your sleeping bag from dust and pests by storing it in a breathable storage bag when not in use.
  • If your sleeping bag gets wet, allow it to dry completely before storing it.
  • Do not store them damp or wet, as this could lead to mold or mildew growth.
  • When packing your sleeping bag, make sure it is loose so that air can circulate.
  • Avoid storing your sleeping bag in a stuff sack for long periods of time, as this can damage the fabric.
  • Make sure to keep the bag clean while you use it.
  • Do not rush into them with dirty legs or dusty clothes.
  • Liners will help keep their surfaces free of sweat and oils.
  • Place them over sheets if you use them in an open space.
  • Prevent sharp objects from contacting their surface while using them.
  • Do not fold them too vigorously to fit them into compact bags.

Also Read: How to wash Jute Bags in Washing Machine?

Final Thoughts

A sleeping bag is a great investment for any camper or hiker, and with proper care, it will last longer.

Spot clean your sleeping bags as and when required to avoid having to wash them too often. Washing it too frequently can break down the fabric and affect the insulation in the long run.

Washing a sleeping bag in a washing machine is simple and effective. Just make sure to use a delicate cycle and cold water, and don’t forget to dry it thoroughly afterward.

Avoid dragging your sleeping bag on the ground while using it. This can cause abrasion and wear down the fabric over time.

When storing your sleeping bag, be sure to keep it in a dry place. If it becomes wet, it will take longer to dry out and could lead to mold or mildew growth.

If you notice any areas that are starting to show signs of wear and tear, be sure to repair them as soon as possible. This will help extend the life of your sleeping bag.

Also Read: How to Wash Lularoe Jeans?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you need a sleeping bag?

There could be many reasons why you might need a sleeping bag. It can be for a surprise camping trip so that you are prepared for any weather conditions. If you are an avid hiker, then you may need a light, compact sleeping bag for your overnight excursions. Or maybe you just want to be able to sleep comfortably in your own bed during a power outage.

Should I dry clean a sleeping bag?

In general, you shouldn’t dry clean sleeping bags as solvents in the dry cleaning solution can damage and remove the natural oils in the down. However, if the care label suggests dry cleaning, simply take them to the nearest laundromat.

Should you wash your sleeping bag zipped or unzipped?

It’s recommended to wash your sleeping bags by unzipping them. This way, it helps the detergent and water reach inside areas and clean them effectively.

How long does it take to air dry a sleeping bag?

In general, it takes approximately 18 to 20 hours for a sleeping bag to air-dry naturally, depending on the current setup of your clothesline and the weather.

What temperature to wash a sleeping bag?

The recommended temperature to wash a sleeping bag is below 40 degrees Celsius. However, the temperature settings may vary depending on the fabric. It’s a good practice to wash your sleeping bag in cold water as there is no downside to it.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)