View Full Version : Washing Down Sleeping Bags

12-09-2002, 18:43
I've heard so many different ways to wash a down sleeping bag, I now don't know which to use. Tennis balls? No tennis balls?

Anybody want to put their two cents in on this discussion?


SGT Rock
12-09-2002, 18:50
Great article about it:


12-09-2002, 19:07
I have found the easiest method is to ship the bag back to Feathered Friends and for $20 let them do a professional job of cleaning out the hiker stank.

12-09-2002, 20:30
I did mine by hand in the bathtub. One thing I learned the hard way -- check your bag very carefully for holes before washing. I found down in the bathwater, and then discovered 3 small holes in the bag. One was a seam I could repair while wet. The others were holes. I wanted to repair them with stick-on ripstop repair tape, but couldn't do that while wet. Tried sewing them up but that didn't work. Ended up losing lots of down from 2 or 3 sections and repairing it after the bag was finally dry again. Bought a down pillow and used that to restuff it, but lots of work and down flying everywhere. Regarding drying, I used tennis balls (used to use sneakers wrapped in clean socks). Took days to dry. Tried using the no-heat cycle but dried way too slowly . So would dry with low heat for 10 minutes, then without heat for an hour.

12-10-2002, 08:03
We did ours only once on the trail, in Pearisburg, VA (Western Mountaineering Ultralites and Highlites), we used powder detergent, set the machine (front loaders only) on gentle and warm water, and the dried it about 10 times thruogh the dryer on medium heat. (no tennis balls or anything) The bags came out practically brand new, smelling clean and after a couple of shakes fluffy, and worked great the rest of the trip.

12-10-2002, 08:59
If you do want to wash your own sleeping bags, I suggest buying a soap that is made for down, such as Kenyon Down and outerwear cleaner ($3.00 for 4 oz bottle). The bottle has directions on it for washing and drying. What they don't say is that a commercial dryer rather than a home dryer is recommended. For drying, it does say to put a clean tennis shoe in with the wet article. This aids in fluffing (breaks up clumps) and reduces static electricity.

12-12-2002, 02:22
Use a front loading machine, use Ivory snow or like Peaks suggested a down soap (sports wash, nikwax) and get yourself a six pack cause you will be in the laundromat for a few hours, probably 4 atleast. Tennis balls and sneakers have been known to damage loft but I don't see how the hell a tennis ball could do that. Me personally I prefer to remove the bag every 20 min and break the clumps up by hand, bag dries alot faster, and use low heat.

NOTE: Wash the bag twice, once with soap, once without...rinse the hell outta it. Soap residue is just as bad as dirt on your down! Maybe 2 six packs!

12-12-2002, 15:02
Thanks for the info!