Washing down sleeping bag when hiking

6:40 a.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Hello everyone,


I have a Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag and I have been using it fairly heavily for several months, in the Himalayas. Down-specific cleaners like Nikwax are not available here. Also, in remote regions, stuff like non-detergent soap are not available. Is there any alternative that can be used to wash the bag ? Will washing it with just water be any good ?


Sujith

7:57 a.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Can you order down cleaner or pure soap online and have it shipped? If not, washing with just water is better than nothing, assuming it's clean water.

10:18 a.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Woolite or Ivory Flakes if available. On the other hand washing with what ever can be found won't kill the bag. People wash down comforters all the time in their favorite detergent and they come out nice and puffy. Consistent washing with detergent is not ideal. Some (most) shampoo's are non-detergent and will do in a pinch.

10:36 a.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Plain water is not going to help much. Use whatever soap you can find.  Woolite and Ivory Flakes are the old standbys before Nixwax.

11:04 p.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

Can you order down cleaner or pure soap online and have it shipped? If not, washing with just water is better than nothing, assuming it's clean water.

It's available on Amazon India, but it is shipped directly from the United States and it takes a few weeks to arrive. By that time, all the high passes will be covered in snow. :-)

11:05 p.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks for the replies, I'll find some mild shampoo and try it.

11:42 p.m. on September 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Talk to the local farming women and ask what they wash their wool garments with to maintain the lanolin content. I was also wondering about using Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille soap?

7:33 a.m. on September 20, 2016 (EDT)
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pine sap said:

Talk to the local farming women and ask what they wash their wool garments with to maintain the lanolin content. I was also wondering about using Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille soap?

 Yep, I searched a bit for Castille soap, but no luck. I found soap made with natural oils, chemical-free, handmade locally in the Himalayas and sold in a shop selling organic products - will use this.

4:35 p.m. on September 22, 2016 (EDT)
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+1 on Downey Flakes - it was what was used back in the day...

Your biggest issue will be getting the bag completely dry in a timely manner.  The only way I've accomplished that is with those big front loading dryers at the Laundromat.  Good luck locating that!  If it takes several days to dry out, your bag will take on a mildew smell, probably worse than whatever you are trying to clean off in the first place.

Ed

7:52 a.m. on September 26, 2016 (EDT)
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mild fabric soap will do

3:08 a.m. on October 4, 2016 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

+1 on Downey Flakes - it was what was used back in the day...

Your biggest issue will be getting the bag completely dry in a timely manner.  The only way I've accomplished that is with those big front loading dryers at the Laundromat.  Good luck locating that!  If it takes several days to dry out, your bag will take on a mildew smell, probably worse than whatever you are trying to clean off in the first place.

Ed

Yes, the task of drying it made me chicken out. I'll wash it once I get down to the plains - the loft is still pretty good and at 4200m, I had to leave the bag unzipped since it was quite warm.

10:07 a.m. on October 4, 2016 (EDT)
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Down bags can get pretty funky, especially around the face and head area.  It's a personal thing but I never wash my down bag(s).  My WM Puma bag is still going strong w/o washing after 10 years, old Marmot Couloir still kicking after 15 years.

1:43 p.m. on October 7, 2016 (EDT)
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I would be careful about washing a bag and making sure it is dried out for the next night. Best to consider washing on a layover day (or two).

May 20, 2019
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