A good quality sleeping bag can survive years of adventuring...if you care for it properly. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your sleeping bag has a long, happy life. Whether you just bought your first sleeping bag or have owned one for years, knowing how to care for your sleeping bag is essential. Follow the steps below to keep your bag clean and warm for years to come.
How to Care For Your Sleeping Bag
1. Keep It Clean
While in the backcountry keep your sleeping bag clean by never placing it directly on the ground, avoid eating and drinking in your bag and try to wear clean clothes to bed to avoid making the bag smell too bad. It is also advised that you do not sit around a campfire *in* your sleeping bag unless you want to take that campfire smoke smell home with you
2. Air It Out
Even if you stay squeaky clean while camping (ha!) sleeping bags are going to smell. Try to make it as bearable as possible by turning your sleeping bag inside out and airing it out. Do this as soon as you arrive at camp in the afternoon and after you get home. This will help remove some of the bag's smell and will help it stay dry to eliminate the risk of mildew.
3. Spot Clean It
Washing machines can potentially damage your sleeping bag. Dryers are even worse. You'll only want to wash a down sleeping bag when it's really necessary and never, ever put a sleeping bag in a dryer with any heat. So, keep the area around the head clean by spot cleaning after long trips. This area is most likely covered in oils from your hair and face. Use a wet cloth and a gentle soap then wash the outer fabrics of the bag but be careful to avoid getting the in the insulation wet.
4. Clean It Carefully
When it's time to really wash your sleeping bag, know how to do it correctly. Don't put a sleeping bag in a hot dryer, only use a front load washer and use a gentle soap. We have written about how to properly and safely wash your sleeping bag: How to Wash Your Sleeping Bag.
5. Store It Loosely
Never store your sleeping bag in a compression sack or smashed into the bottom of your backpack. Too much pressure will cause the spines of the down feathers to break. Being compressed for long periods of time will make the insulation lose its loft (which will lead to cold spots in the bag). Store your sleeping bag loosely in a large cotton sack, hang it up in a closet or lay them out flat under your bed.
6. Check For Damage
After each camping or backpacking trip check your sleeping bag for any tears, loose stitching, debris inside the bag and make sure the zipper works properly. You'll want to fix any damages now before you hit the trail again...no one wants to find any sleeping bag damage when you’re miles from home and depending upon the bag for a warm night of sleep!
Do you already follow these steps to keeping your sleeping bag happy and healthy? Are there any additional tricks you use to extend the life of your sleeping bag?