Washing sleeping bags

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Blue Hills, 22 Aug 2012.

  1. Blue Hills

    Blue Hills ^

    Hope this is the best place to post this.

    My quality sleeping bag (Mountain Equipment) eventually needs a wash after a number of years I'm ashamed to admit to - slept in it last night as a test pre a trip and it disturbed an otherwise perfect sleep.

    So anyone got any hot tips on how to do this as easily and effectively as possible?

    It won't really fit properly in my domestic washer/drier.

    I have a launderette nearby.

    Or can I just hand wash it in a clean bath since it's only really the inside surface that I would think would need cleaning?

    Is washing meant to somehow clean the inside/stuffing?

    The washing instructions say that it can be dried it in a tumble drier on the low setting but I'm not sure if this is a must (to fluff the insides back up?) or whether I can just air dry it outside on a decent day.

    Also, the washing instructiosn say to use "non-detergent soap" - just what exactly is this? Please don't say I could google it - I'm relying on the helpfulness and knowledge of you good folks.

    Looking forward to your replies/help.
  2. stephenjubb

    stephenjubb Über Member

    niwax downwash is what you need and it will take around 7-8 hours to dry in a launderatte dryer. Airing out will take days.
  3. tadpole

    tadpole Senior Member

    St George
    if it only the outside surface that needs cleaning, I'd say have ago at it with baby wipes. If it smells or the loft is compacted by dirt or whatever. have it dry cleaned and re-lofted My local laundrette will clean the bag for the same cost a a double douvet. there is a company in Sheffield that will clean and reloft your bag for you if you post it to them. (£35+postage) worth it for a good bag.
  4. OP
    Blue Hills

    Blue Hills ^

    Thanks to both of you chaps - I must say I can't see myself going down the 7 hours launderette drying route (not criticising your advice stephenjub) as too many memories of coin feeding as a student. I'll investigate the possibilities of my local launderette and any double duvet offer but I'd have to be certain that they were using appropriate cleaner - thanks to stephenjubb I've read up on the properties of stuff like niwax downwash.

    The babywipe suggestion sounds good as the down itself seems in pretty decent shape (it is 20 years old though) unless my slumbers are being disturbed by a sense of dirt from the filling.

    Anyone know of any potential issues with doing this?

    Other advice welcome.

    I suppose I should have been using a liner all these years.

    By the way, according to the washing tag it can't be dry-cleaned
  5. We use a cleaners in Sheffield who specialise in down sleeping bags. All our bags (except 1) are RAB bags and we followed their recommendation. Never had an issue yet and all of our bags (some of which were 2nd hand 20 years ago, have been cleaned at least once there). We post the bags (insured) to them after ringing them and they were never gone overly long, but we always rigged it so the summer bags were cleaned in winter and the winter bags in summer. that just left the spring/autumn bags to sort... yeh I know what you're thinking - how many bags? I think we are down (excuse pun) to 3 each, but I would have to check!

    W E Franklins Sheffield Cleaners
    457 Abbeydale Road
    South Yorkshire
    S7 1FS
    Tel: 0114 268 6161 ext 2

    much easier than trying it yourself. Our bags include 2* -40C bags which would be a nightmare to do yourself IMO.

    As for baby wipes - not sure about that, so much could go wrong and not necessarily immediately, some of the chemicals involved may not do the fabric much good long term.
  6. stephenjubb

    stephenjubb Über Member

    I don't think W.E Franklins are in the business of cleaning sleeping bags last I heard.


    DO NOT DRY CLEAN IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, As it says so on your label also from


    Note: Dry cleaning is not appropriate for sleeping bags, especially down. Solvents used in dry cleaning can strip the natural oils from down that help it retain loft. Solvents are also very difficult to remove from synthetic insulation.

    Alpkit do not recommend it either

  7. Octet

    Octet Über Member

    When I last washed my sleeping bag, I just stuck the garden hose inside it and spritzed it. Adding a small amount of soap (I think non-detergent soap means without chemicals so I don't think you could use something like Lenor or Aerial) shall help clean it and then just spray it again making sure to get all the soap out.
    I then just hung it up on the washing line to drip dry and it was as good as new.

    Not sure if this is how you should wash it or whether it will do any damage but it seemed to work for me.
  8. Franklins appear to have simply relocated, kept the same tel no and they don't dry clean it - they wash it as needed, rinse and dry it thoroughly and I doubt that RAB UK would recommend them if they were dry cleaning bags RAB bags that say don't dry clean. It is simply that they have the capacity washers and driers and the correct cleaning agents/non soap detergents. All of my bags have always come back A+ like new, and with a fresh lease of life.

    The closest to our 2 seriously warm bags are these http://rab.uk.com/products/sleeping-bags/expedition_2/expedition-1200.html (we have the rab premiere 1100 bags) coming in at the £500 mark each. I would not risk these bags to someone who does not know how to clean them. Both have been to Franklins over the last 20 years and both are totally fine.
  9. OP
    Blue Hills

    Blue Hills ^

    I must say I'm somewhat tempted by Octet's no nonsense approach :smile:

    Well I got the Nikwax Downwash (thanks for the tip) for £5 from Decathlon.

    I've decided to go down the bath by hand route and just air dry it outside and in (my house gets rather warm on the top floor) - dragging it to the launderette, although it is only 5 mins walk isprobably not on as I guess it would weigh a ton when wet and I've read that you can potentially damage internal baffles by manhandling it when wet.

    Another question though.

    The Nikwax instructions for hand washing are fairly clear but it seems to say that their product and this system is only for 1 or 2 season bags and that 3-4 season bags should be professionally cleaned. Although the bag is a good one it doesn't seem to make economic sense to do this - surely they are just being over-cautious/covering themselves in some way?
    Octet likes this.
  10. Brains

    Brains Guru

    [quote="Blue Hills, post: 2000602,
    . Although the bag is a good one it doesn't seem to make economic sense to do this - surely they are just being over-cautious/covering themselves in some way?[/quote]

    Good bag/economic sense
    a good bag will cost >£200, so 10% of this cost makes sense
    Norm likes this.
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