Shelter, Sleeping Bags & Sleeping Mats

Can I clean my sleeping bag?

Washing can extend the effective lifespan of your down sleeping bag, and give you a clean and fresh feeling every night. These cleaning instructions apply to both our range of down sleeping bags and goose down jackets.

Whilst you can get your bag washed professionally you can also do it at home.

How to clean your down sleeping bag

You will need:

  • A large tumble dryer is worth its weight in gold as air drying takes a long time and you will have to constantly agitate the down as it dries to ensure that it does not clump
  • A bath or large capacity washing machine (10 kg)
  • NikWax Down Wash
  • NikWax Down Proof (optional)
  • Clean tennis ball or tennis shoe
Hand wash (the gentle approach)
  • Fill your bath with luke warm water mixing in either pure soap flakes or our favourite down cleaner
  • Place your sleeping bag into the bath and gently press it down so it is submerged
  • Agitate it a little and then go and get a cup of tea and some biscuits
  • After an hour or so let the water drain from the bath and refill with fresh water. Gently massage the bag to remove the soap from the down, if you have a shower head this could work well
  • Keep at it until all the soapy water is removed. Gently push down on the down bag to evacuate as much water as possible

IMPORTANT: Do not wring or squeeze the bag, this will damage the down.

Machine wash (the less gentle approach)
  • Try to remove all soap residues by flushing the machine through with an empty wash and clean out the soap dispenser
  • Set the water temperature to 30C (warm) and fill the soap dispenser with the recommended quantity of Nikwax Down Wash (this will depend on the weight of the bag)
  • After the wash cycle is complete, rinse the bag thoroughly
Reproofing (optional)

You can increase the effectiveness of your down in damp conditions by treating it with Nikwax Down Proof.

  • Before removing your wet bag from the washing machine reload the dispenser with the recommended quantity of Down Proof
  • Let your machine work its magic whilst you have some custard cream and a coffee OR if you are using the bath roll up your sleeves again and get hands on (and ask someone else to get you custard creams)
Rinse and dry
  • Rinse until the water runs clean
  • If you have tumble dryer we told you about earlier, set it to the lowest heat option (take care with launderettes as they seem to have one single setting that could melt glass)
  • Throw in the clean tennis shoe or tennis balls with your bag. As the bag dries these will break up the down clumps. Large bags will require several hours of tumbling before they are dry
  • We recommend tumble drying when using products such as Nikwax Down Proof as the heat helps cure the waterproofing to the fabric quicker

IMPORTANT: Take care when lifting your bag, it will be heavy. Avoid putting any stress on the bags seams.

If you have no dryer lay in a clean, dry, and shady area to dry.

Massage and separate the drying down until completely dry. Air drying a bag can take days! If your bag is left unattended the down will clump together and it will not be nice and fluffy.

IMPORTANT: Do not just throw your bag over the washing line and leave it to drip dry overnight. Better still, place in the dryer on a low heat.. oh did we say that already?

Cleaning and storage tips
  • Sleep in long underwear or using a cotton or silk sleeping bag liner to reduce the number of times you will have to wash your bag
  • Store your down product in a clean, dry, and ventilated area
  • Avoid hanging it over a rail
  • Stuff it loosely inside its large grey cotton storage bag so that it retains its loft
  • Do not store your sleeping bag in its compression stuff sack or when it is damp
Tent care

You should never use a washing machine/tumble dryer to clean your tent. Car washes are also frowned upon.

To clean the tent, use a sponge and non-detergent soap in clean warm water, make sure to clean and look after your zips after every trip as they can bear the brunt of a lot of abuse. Use a brush and some lubricant (there is a debate as to whether Flora or Bertolli is best, compared to a ‘commercial’ zip lubricant). Fingering your zip while closing the door will keep the fabric from being caught in the teeth and potentially ripping the tent or causing damage to the zip.

To increase the life of the poles, take care not to bend them too much. When slotting them together, take extra care at the joints to stop the ends becoming sharp or bent. When removing the tent poles it is also better to push the pole through the pole sleeve rather than pull the separate sections through as this could cause the elastic inside to tear or break, while possibly causing the pole sleeve to rip as well.

A major contributor to the life of a tent is its UV exposure, pitching the tent in a shaded area will help prevent the fabric degrading in the sun. Although be careful not to pitch under dead wood or a popular lemming jumping cliff.