How to wash down sleeping bag.

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How to wash down sleeping bag.

Postby volica » Nov 16, 2006 10:10 am

Hi everybody!
Well, I know it is not necessarily cave related topic, but since I use it to camp before and after caving...
I have sleeping bag, it is two months old, which, well, stinks like hell. I wanna wash it, but I don't want to destroy it. Any suggestion?
Other shell is made out of nylon, filling is goose down.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Nov 16, 2006 10:33 am

Type the subject of this thread in to Google. You'll get several dozen websites with instructions. Better yet, follow the manufacturers directions.

If you have only had the bag for 2 months and it already stinks that bad, it's probably either contaminated with a spill (beer, red bull, ramen noodles, etc) or it's normal body vapors, oils and condensation that are fermenting in the down. Which means, you are not storing it properly. Airing out a bag after use is important. Most down bags come with a large, breathable, thin, cotton storage bag. They work well, but hanging a bag is even better. Storing it in a stuff sack will bring an early death to any sleeping bag. Stuff sacks are only for transporting a bag, not storing.

The good thing is, down is usually fixable. A good wash and proper storage, should bring your bag back close to normal.

~Sorry for the preachin'. I used to work in an outdoor shop and gave that speach a couple hundred times.
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Use A Front Loading Washing Machine

Postby Andy » Nov 16, 2006 11:28 am

Tip # 1 on washing a sleeping bag, goose down or otherwise, is to use a front loading washing machine. Go to a laundromat if you have too. A top loading washing machine with an agitator can ruin your sleeping bag.
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Postby graveleye » Nov 16, 2006 11:32 am

we take ours and have it dry-cleaned, so far with good results. Its a little pricey, but its not like you have to do it after every trip. We do the same with our down comforters. Dont want ot put down in your home washer at all.. it will likely ruin it.
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Postby Lava » Nov 16, 2006 12:29 pm

I've read in numerous places on the internet that it is not good to dry clean sleeping bags, down or synthetic.
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Postby graveleye » Nov 16, 2006 1:23 pm

hmm.. mines been holding up fine... perhaps I should retract the dry-cleaning idea, because now that I think about it, I am not 100% sure how they washed it. My wife was the one who carried up there and she knows more about that than I do.
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Postby volica » Nov 16, 2006 2:04 pm

Hi everybody!
Thx for all replies. I should google it first, I know, but I preferred to ask pros first.
Now, I have found this: http://www.nikwax-usa.com/en-us/product ... ductid=266
Is it worth anything, or don't bother?

PS. I do store my bag properly, I do use liner while sleeping in it. Problem is, I was bike-riding for two weeks, didn't take shower for a while, now my sweat is decomposing in it, despite hanging it freely in closet
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Postby Tim White » Nov 16, 2006 2:30 pm

Nikwax's Down Wash really does work. As do their other products like the treatment ifor cleaning and re-waterproofing your waterproof/breathable clothing.

(Just a disclaimer here... I do a part-time gig at REI and we sell Nikwax products. My endorsement of Nikwax has nothing to do with my REI involvement.)
Be safe,
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Postby Scott McCrea » Nov 16, 2006 2:34 pm

Have you tried hanging it outside for a day or two?. Glad to hear it's not a ramen noodle problem. ;-)

The Down Wash works but it's a pain and your bag will probably never be the same. The clumping of the down is the biggest headache. But, it is possible get it clean and back close to normal. It just takes some motivation.
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Postby volica » Nov 16, 2006 2:43 pm

I found an advise to wash with tennis ball to avoid clumping.
Cannot really hung it outside because of weather and fact that i live in apartment without balcony. GRRRRRHHHH. All my previous bags were synthetic filled, but since I am getting old I decided to buy this pain in butt. I will just go to laundromat and wash it in cold water using front loading washer, tennis balls, nikwax.
And then back home to dry it on "no heat" settings.
Wish me luck
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Nov 16, 2006 3:29 pm

volica wrote:I found an advise to wash with tennis ball to avoid clumping.
Cannot really hung it outside because of weather and fact that i live in apartment without balcony. GRRRRRHHHH. All my previous bags were synthetic filled, but since I am getting old I decided to buy this pain in butt. I will just go to laundromat and wash it in cold water using front loading washer, tennis balls, nikwax.
And then back home to dry it on "no heat" settings.
Wish me luck

Good luck!

BTW, You *CAN* wash your down sleeping bag at home if you splurged on a front loading tumble washer! (she brags)

I've always used woolite on my down bags (specialty detergent is probably better), and then used the tennis ball (or clean sneaker) in the DRIER.

Before I got my front loading washer, I took my down bag to the laundromat. Then I took it home wet. Laid it on a drying rack, and when it was dry, I tumbled it a few times on air fluff with said tennis ball/sneaker.
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Postby jw3636 » Nov 16, 2006 4:45 pm

volica wrote:Hi everybody!
Thx for all replies. I should google it first, I know, but I preferred to ask pros first.
Now, I have found this: http://www.nikwax-usa.com/en-us/product ... ductid=266
Is it worth anything, or don't bother?

PS. I do store my bag properly, I do use liner while sleeping in it. Problem is, I was bike-riding for two weeks, didn't take shower for a while, now my sweat is decomposing in it, despite hanging it freely in closet

I've used Nikwax Down Wash for all of my down products and it works extremely well. Follow the directions on the bottle and use a commerical front-loading washer to avoid undue seam stress, etc. It's very economical and safe to wash your own down. When drying, I find it helps to throw a few tennis balls into the dryer. It helps to break up clumps of down.
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Nov 16, 2006 6:08 pm

I don't know about sleeping bags over there but mine advices that you should hand wash it in a bath tub, drain all the water out then squeeze as much water out of the bag as possible without lifting the bag up (squeeze against the bath tub floor) then you can put it out to dry (when you gather it up try to bundle the whole thing)as it's drying periodically break up the clumps of down and spread it out, you could also do the tennis ball / sneaker in the dryer thing on cold I think.

The reason for the careful handling when wet is that down sleeping bags have baffles to stop the down moving around and leading to cold spots, ordinarily they are tough enough but when the bag is wet is weights more and if you just pick it up you can tear the baffles. :hairpull:

Do you use a sleeping bag liner? for down bags this will absorb a fair amount of your sweat before it makes it to your nice down bag, it also makes them a bit warmer, silk sleeping bag liners are small and light weight. Sleeping bag liners are easy to make yourself too :wink:
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Postby RescueMan » Nov 16, 2006 6:34 pm

Lava wrote:I've read in numerous places on the internet that it is not good to dry clean sleeping bags, down or synthetic.

It may damage the down, but more importantly it leaves a chemical residue (carbon tetrachloride or perchlorethelene) which you definately DON'T want to breath in all night tucked inside your cozy bag.

Squirrel Girl wrote:I've always used woolite on my down bags (specialty detergent is probably better), and then used the tennis ball (or clean sneaker) in the DRIER.

Not detergent of any kind - that will destroy the down's loft. Woolite is fine or good old fashioned Ivory Flakes. Also any mild natural shampoo would be acceptable.

A "no heat" setting will take forever. A low-heat setting is fine and the tennis balls are important.

CAVEAT: Don't do what I had to one wet cold night when I awoke in a pool of rainwater - try desperately to dry the bag over a campfire and melt the nylon, releasing down feathers everywhere, and then having to restuff the bag and sew it up with a shoelace.

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Postby NZcaver » Nov 16, 2006 7:47 pm

RescueMan wrote:CAVEAT: Don't do what I had to one wet cold night when I awoke in a pool of rainwater - try desperately to dry the bag over a campfire and melt the nylon, releasing down feathers everywhere, and then having to restuff the bag and sew it up with a shoelace.

D'oh! :hairpull:

That's one reason why I bought a Gore-Tex bivvy bag years ago. Just slide your whole sleeping bag into it, and jump in! Great for keeping you dry, especially if you like to go lightweight and just carry a tent fly instead of the whole tent. The bivvy bag dries a lot faster than a sleeping bag, too.

I've owned my faithful Macpac down sleeping bag for 17 years. Washed it twice now, I think. First time in the bathtub, with down soap specifically designed for the purpose. Second time, years later, in a front-loading washing machine with a tennis ball using a different down soap. (The soap should be available at any outdoor store.) Both techniques work fine, and both times the bag was hung out to dry for days to dry and periodically fluffed by hand. (I understand that a drier on low-temp setting is fine to use too.)

The only time my sleeping bag is in it's stuff sack is when I'm carrying it. After use, it gets hung up inside-out somewhere with some air flow to air it out for a day or two. At home, it either gets hung in the closet or lives in it's cotton expansion bag. I also use the expansion bag in the vehicle - no sense in keeping all the down and feathers compressed any longer than necessary. I even have one of those silk liner bags for protecting the inside the sleeping bag, but I must confess I haven't used it in years.
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