View Full Version : Down Sleeping bag smells like ass

10-05-2013, 12:15
Hey yall

Lighthouse here again.

So I am in the process of cleaning all my stuff from my thru hike, and I am having trouble cleaning my down sleeping bag. I noticed on the REI website, it says not to use agitator style washing machines, and instead use front loading. I am alsmost positive I have an agitator style washing machine. Therefore I filled up my bath with water and detergent and hand washed it. I originally left it outside to air dry, and then realized that it would take....ohhhh about 20 years to get completely dry that way, so I put it in the dryer on low heat. It is now almost completely dry, and smells about the same. I am not sure if mold or mildew started to accumulate when I was air drying it for a few days, and now that is contributing to the smell?

Anyways, does anyone have any suggestions on how to clean my bag without me messing it up? Do I just have to wash it and dry it like 3 times? I am very weary of putting it in my agitator washer since it specifically says not to, but if someone else has done it with good results, that is good enough for me. My sleeping bag was my most expensive (yet most favorite) item on the trail, so I want to make sure its in pristine condition and I don't mess it up!

MY sleeping bag is the REI Igneo down sleeping bag btw.


Old Hiker
10-05-2013, 12:26
Almost every commercial laundry place has a large front loader. It costs, but it's worth it in my opinion. Used it while I was in G'burg. I think it was $3 to wash, but over $5 to dry - $1.50 at a time. It was worth it, I think. May want to go to a sporting goods store or online and get soap made specifically for down items.

Maybe a dry cleaner?

I would NOT put it in a regular washer. Just my 2 cents.

Good luck.

10-05-2013, 14:06
Definitely DO NOT use your agitator washer - you will rip out the bag's internal baffles and render the bag useless. Check around town until you find a neighborhood laundrymat - there should be one or two front-loading washers. Get some special down soap from REI or some other backpacking shop - these soaps are formulated to remove dirt and odors without stripping the natural oils from the down. Once the bag is washed and is only "spin-dried", lift the bag from underneath (do not grab the top of the bag and pull - remember those internal baffles) and support the weight of the bag from underneath while you transfer it to a dryer. Add a few clean tennis balls or a pair of clean sneakers (to break up the down clumps) and dry on a low heat setting. (Note - the balls or sneakers will make a nasty racket as they tumble, but it's the best way to break up the down clumps and re-fluff the bag). If you choose to dry-clean the bag, there are 2 types of dry cleaning solvents: one will clean the down, but the other one will completely strip the natural oils from the down! I can't remember which is which (maybe someone else here does), but ask the dry cleaner first. If they don't know, then go elsewhere.

da fungo
10-05-2013, 14:37
You also might find some Febreeze Antimicrobial Fabric Refresher. For example. (http://www.amazon.com/Febreze-Fabric-Refresher-Antimicrobial-Freshener/dp/B001D1YJKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380998069&sr=8-1&keywords=febreeze+textile)

I've used Febreeze fabric productson my quite funky hiking shoes with very good results. I haven't used it on down products, but don't see any reason that it wouldn't work.

Feral Bill
10-05-2013, 15:51
Dry cleaning solutions have changed in recent years, due to environmental health issues. Best to check on recent information if you choose that route.

10-05-2013, 16:28
Toss it and get a new one.

A little white vinegar usually takes the funk out of stinky stuff. I'm not endorsing it for you but it works for me.

Sent from somewhere.

10-05-2013, 16:33
hand washing it in the tub is a bad idea - you can easily tear the baffles when taking it out of the tub becasue you can't get enough water out of it to make it light weight - the weight of the water will pull and drag as you lift it out -
in a washer with a center agitator, if you have a 'hand wash' cycle, you can do it on that , Also, add white vinegar to the fabric softner compartment, and then an extra rinse, spin on high to get as much water out of it as possible.

10-05-2013, 18:33
So actually I do not think I have an agitator machine! I just assumed all top loading washers are "agitator style", but i didn't realize that the agitator is the big piece in the middle that rotates the clothes around. We have one of those newer washers that is top loading, but it has nothing in the middle...its basically just a big bucket that you put all the clothes in. So you think it will be safe in there if I put some detergent and some vinegar and wash it?

kayak karl
10-05-2013, 18:39
hope this teaches you not to have a donkey in your sleeping bag :rolleyes:

Just Bill
10-05-2013, 19:04
While not farting in the bag does reduce ass smell, it is difficult to avoid. As mentioned, vinegar works, for nasty stuff you can also use an 1/8 cup of lemon juice with the vinegar. Consider a soak in your washer for a few hours before finishing the cycle. The washer you have should be fine. Followed up with Down wash. http://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=266 I have also used Sport Wash, from the new balance store, to remove some odors. Wrong time of year, but a good sunning on a clothesline also works well.

10-06-2013, 07:12
DO NOT use regular detergent!! You need to use special down soap. Normal detergent can strip the natural oils from the down feathers.

10-06-2013, 08:02
I have used regular detergent for years on all of my down jackets and bags and they are just fine. Yes, you can use your top loader, and I would still put it on a bulky or gentle cycle. If it sets it for a gentle spin on these cycles (mine does) then do a second drain and spin or rinse and spin to put it on a high spin - you want to get as much water out of it as possible before putting it in the dryer.

10-06-2013, 11:02
You'd be amazed how much soap residue remains after you wash a sleeping bag. The last time I washed mine I went to the Laundromat and put it in a front loading machine and ran it through a regular cycle. While it was rinsing it still seemed rather soapy, so I ran the machine again without adding any soap. It was just as soapy during the second cycle as it was during the first. So I ran it a third time and by the end it was rinsed to my satisfaction. So perhaps part of the solution is to run it through a few times.

coach lou
10-06-2013, 11:50
In my area we have a Dry Cleaner/ Laundry that does down garments. I have always had my down bags done by professionals. For the amount of times you have to have that done, I feel it is a good investment. A search of your area may find a reputable business.