Cleaning, Repairing, and Storing your Sleeping Bag

Article by NEMO

Cleaning, Repairing, and Storing your Sleeping Bag

Your sleeping bag is an investment in your adventure. Taking proper care of your new sleeping bag will not only afford you a better experience but will also help you get as many adventures out of it as possible. Use the tips below to keep your sleeping bag fresh and ready for the trail.

Tips for Taking Care of your Sleeping Bag

  • Store your sleeping bag appropriately. After extensive in-house testing, we've determined that you can confidently store a sleeping bag compressed — as long as it's completely dry. If you just returned from a trip, it's not a bad idea to store it loose for a couple days before stashing away in a smaller bag. When you get to camp, make sure to decompress your bag by leaving it unrolled and flat for a few hours (or as much time as you can) before using it — this will enable the down to loft back up and create a nice, puffy effect for a cozy sleep when you’re ready for bed!

  • Keep your sleeping bag clean. Oil and dirt can greatly affect a sleeping bag’s insulation over time. We know it’s hard to stay clean in the backcountry, especially after a summer day of hiking. When possible, give yourself a quick wash with a wet cloth and wear clean clothes to bed. Going to bed semi-clean feels so much better and in the long run, it’ll help your sleeping bag too.

  • Spot clean when possible, wash when needed. Your sleeping bag is composed of lightweight materials and delicate insulations — washing your sleeping bag after every trip is not recommended because the harshness of soaps and water can take a toll. When possible, only spot clean your sleeping bag. Use a non-detergent soap and make a paste with a small amount of water. Using a cloth or even a toothbrush, clean the affected area of your sleeping bag. Try not to get the insulation of the bag wet by pulling the fabric away from the insulation when cleaning.

  • Sometimes your bag is dirty, we get it. It means you’ve been on some great adventures! When you notice your sleeping bag looking flat, loss of loft, or generally pretty grimy — follow the directions below for washing. Washing your bag will definitely help revitalize the loft and warmth of your bag.

Washing your sleeping bag

If your sleeping bag is exposed to dirt, sand, etc., you can simply wipe it down with a wet cloth or spot clean with mild, non-detergent soap in cold water.

For excessive dirt and oil, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Wash your sleeping bag on a gentle cycle with a two-rinse option in cold water in an oversized, front-loading commercial washing machine with no agitator.

  2. Wash your sleeping bag with a technical fabric wash like Nikwax Down Wash Direct.

  3. Tumble dry low heat in an oversized commercial dryer. Add some clean tennis balls to the dryer to help thoroughly dry the down/synthetic in your bag. Expect your sleeping bag to take several hours to fully dry.

  4. Once dry, shake your sleeping bag to restore the loft.

Other Notes: Do not use bleach on your sleeping bag. Do not dry a wet sleeping bag while it is bundled. Do not iron and do not dry clean. Do not use a high heat setting when drying your bag — this can melt the technical sleeping bag fabrics.

Cleaning Zippers

It is also important to keep the zippers of your sleeping bag clean. If your bag is exposed to dirt, sand, or salty air, wipe the zipper down with a wet cloth. In excessive cases, wash and treat zippers with a lubricant such as McNett Zip Care™ or a silicone zipper spray (popular in dive shops).

Sleeping Bag Storage

Taking care of your sleeping bag in the off-season is just as important as during the backpacking and camping season.

After each trip, follow these steps for keeping your sleeping bag in good condition for the next season:

  1. Clean the sleeping bag using the washing directions above for excessive dirt and oil build-up. If your bag is relatively clean, let the bag air dry on a clothesline for at least 24 hours in low humidity weather conditions before storage.

  2. Make sure your sleeping bag is completely dry before storing it. This is the most effective way to prevent mold and mildew from forming on your sleeping bag.

  3. For long term storage, keep your sleeping bag in an oversized breathable storage sack or on a clothes hanger. Do not store your sleeping bag in its compression sack. Tightly compressing your down/synthetic sleeping bag can damage the insulation and loft of the bag.

  4. Store the sleeping bag in a cool, dry, and dark area — away from direct exposure to sunlight.

Sleeping Bag Repairs

Small tears and rips can easily be patched with a product like Tenacious Tape™ by Gear Aid™. Just clean the area of the sleeping bag that needs patching, then peel and stick the patch on the tear. You’ll have a durable, nearly invisible repair that won’t leave behind a sticky residue as duct tape can.

NEMO offers professional repair services for more in-depth repairs. To request a repair quote or start the repair process, please start here. Have any questions? Reach out to our Customer Service Team.