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How to Wash Your Down Sleeping Bag

3:41 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "How to Wash Your Down Sleeping Bag"

You've invested in a down sleeping bag you'll use for years to come. Now, treat it well on the trail and at home. Proper care and cleaning will help your bag last for many seasons. And a clean bag will have improved loft to keep you warmer.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/how-to-clean-your-down-sleeping-bag.html

4:55 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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This is a great article.  Seems to cover every aspect of washing a down bag completely.  I did my Holurbar bag a few months back using both Nikiwax down wash and down proof.  I use both my frontload washer and I agitated it in the bathtub by hand as well, for it was boaderline nasty.  Instead of using tennis balls in the dry I took some "short top" sneakers (no metal parts) and put the sneakers in long thick cotton socks, then tying off a knot at the top of the sock and used them in commercial dryer at the laundry mat.  Some times laundry mats have differt size Wshers and dryer's.  I fownd it is best to use the largest dryer avaliable and I suspect this would be the same with the washing of a bag in a front load washer.   I found it is worked like a charm and the bag does not stink any more as well as gaining 2 twice the loft it had before cleaning.  It's not lookin to bad for a 30+ year old bag.  I have yet to try my "new" bag out do to the current season of warmth.

5:09 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Some additional considerations:

  • If hand washing, do not wring your bag.  The internal baffles can be damage if subjected to vigorous tugging and twisting.
  • I would not recommend air drying your bag.  The length of time it take to dry a bag using this method give mildew the opportunity to grow, and cause you bag to smell like soiled damp towels left in the hamper.
  • Don’t attempt to dry in a small (typical home) dryer.  They are too small for this task.



10:11 p.m. on August 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, apeman, and for sharing your experience.

Good points, Ed. We'll be updating the article, so keep those tips and suggestions coming to help out others.

8:59 p.m. on August 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I just sold a Marmot Gopher on E-Bay to a guy who camps in the wintertime.I never washed that bag.I just kept it loose in a cotton storage sack.The down was as loftly as the day i bought it.

5:18 p.m. on August 27, 2011 (EDT)
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I used to worked in an outdoor shop, and we got few customers that complained about change of color of their down bags...and why is that? they washed them and then used brand new tennis balls for drying - it's not a problem but you may want to wash the balls few times to make sure they won't remove any color that can dye your sleeping bag.

8:23 a.m. on August 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I got my Gopher kind of cheap (30% off) as i think the price of a good down bag kind of makes people stay away but if you want quality it wont be cheap.Also i have seen some people use ordinary household detergent for a down bag to wash it.You might want to stay away from stuff like Tide.Also don't if you take it to a laundromat use the extractor to squeeze out the water as it will rip the bag almost in 2.I accidentally did that with a synthetic bag.The extractor will heat up and burn material.

9:00 a.m. on August 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I must be from the old school were it was verboten to wash your down bag---and so I never do.  It's crazy.  In 1980 I bought a top of the line North Face down bag called the Ibex and I lived in that thing for over twenty years.  Well, it wasn't keeping me warm at 0F like it used to so I washed it, but the loft never seemed to come back.

I have a Marmot Couloir that is truly soiled (mold around the collar) and so it needs to be washed.  My winter bag, a WM Puma, still is in fantastic shape and fully lofted after several years of hard use, but eventually these two bags must be washed.  By someone.  I'm thinking of sending all my down gear to Rainy Pass and let them do the deed without me having to watch.  They have a special "Down Product Cleaning Facility" which may or may not be the best thing since portable tents.  Anybody know??

12:36 p.m. on August 30, 2011 (EDT)
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If they mess up your bag Tipi i wonder what they would do? If you do- make sure that it is understood.

2:26 p.m. on August 30, 2011 (EDT)
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camperPete said:

If they mess up your bag Tipi i wonder what they would do? If you do- make sure that it is understood.

 I would gnash and weep, and then they would be roundly and harshly rebuked and trounced on every forum from Whiteblaze to Trailspace---or I'll just go into hiding.  But hey, I haven't sent anything off yet so there's no way to know.  But I understand your sentiment:  Figure out beforehand their warranty.

6:59 p.m. on August 30, 2011 (EDT)
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In Norway we have several companies that cleans down by use of steam. The process is described here (sorry only in Norwegian), but it seems they open the bags and take out the down. The down and the fabric are then cleaned separately. The down is cleaned using steam, and only the good feathers are put back. If needed they refill the bags with new down. The process costs 750NOK, including the refilling. I consider this to my old sleeping bag that has been my friend for many years. Sure there must be companies that does this also in the US?

6:12 p.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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  1. Has anybody tried the 'sock with baking soda' method of removing smells?
  2. Is the method similar with synthetic bags? I'm like Tipi - never wash your bags!
4:55 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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I just drop mine off with feathered friends and let them wash it.

5:01 p.m. on April 18, 2012 (EDT)
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nice article

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