How to Wash a Synthetic Sleeping Bag

How to Wash a Synthetic Sleeping Bag

After a camping trip you’ll want to clean your sleeping bag ready for storage and so that it’s fresh as a daisy on your next trip. To do that you’ll need to know how to wash a synthetic sleeping bag.

Please read your sleeping bag’s washing instructions and follow any specific requirements listed. This is a guide to general washing techniques and shouldn’t be used instead of any specific care instructions on your product.

If your sleeping bag is down filled then it will require different care to a synthetic filled sleeping bag, please follow our How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag guide.


  1. Fill a bath with cold water and add half a cup of mild fabric soap
  2. Stir thoroughly to ensure that the soap is fully dissolved
  3. Make sure that your sleeping bag is zipped up and any Velcro attachments are closed to prevent damage to the sleeping bag
  4. Lay your sleeping bag in the bath as flat as possible
  5. With (clean!) bare feet, step into the bath and walk up and down on the sleeping bag until it has been thoroughly submerged into the soapy water and the soap has worked its way through the filling. This saves your arms and back from bending and heavy work but please be careful not to slip!
  6. Empty the soapy (and dirty) bathwater and refill with fresh cold water
  7. Walk up and down the sleeping bag in the same manner, emptying the soapy water and refilling with fresh water as necessary, until there is no more soap remaining in the bag
  8. When you’re happy no more soap remains, empty the water from the bath and roll the sleeping bag up, pressing down on it as you roll. This squeezes out as much water as possible ready for drying
  9. DO NOT wring your sleeping bag or twist it – this can cause the filling in your sleeping bag to clump together

If your sleeping bag allows for machine washing and you have high weight capacity washing machine, you can save yourself a lot of manual work and let the machine take the strain:

Machine Washing

  1. Please ensure your sleeping bag is suitable for machine washing – check the care label!
  2. If your sleeping bag can be machine washed,  set your washing machine to a delicate wash on a cold water temperature setting
  3. Unzip your sleeping bag and leave the zip puller left halfway up the mechanism. Try to cover any exposed ‘hook’ sided Velcro to prevent snagging, use a scrap of white fabric if necessary
  4. Load into the machine
  5. Load a couple of clean tennis balls with your sleeping bag. These will bounce around in the wash cycle to make sure the stuffing doesn’t lump together as it spins round the machine (give them a wash in mild soapy water first to check they won’t leak dye)
  6. Add a mild fabric detergent according to your machine’s instructions
  7. Don’t add fabric softener, it will damage your sleeping bag
  8. When the wash is finished, run it through another rinse cycle to ensure no soapy residue is left
  9. When it’s done, press down on the sleeping bag. If soap suds appear put it on another rinse cycle
  10. If no suds appear, take the sleeping bag out of the machine. If possible transfer the sleeping bag to the bath, if not lay it flat on a clean waterproof table, preferably outside
  11. Roll your bag up, pressing as you roll to remove as much water as possible. If you are using a table instead of the bath, make sure the table is outside or near a drain. If there is no drain, line the floor with towels or newspaper to soak up the residual water and in both cases make sure that the floor cannot be damaged by water.
  12. DO NOT wring, twist or scrunch up your sleeping bag, as this can damage the filling and cause clumping

 Whichever washing method you’ve used, you’ll now need to dry your sleeping bag. Depending on your sleeping bag’s care instructions, the weather and if you have access to a large tumble dryer, there are two methods:

Line Drying

 You can hang your sleeping bag, unzipped, on a washing line. Check the weather forecast as you’ll need to avoid any rain – the sleeping bag will need to be out to dry for at least 24 hours

Tumble Dryer

Firstly, check that your sleeping bag can be tumble dried. Put your sleeping bag into a large tumble dryer on a low heat. Don’t use a high temperature setting as it might melt any synthetic fabrics and fibres, resulting in a lumpy and extremely uncomfortable sleeping bag. As with machine washing, add in a couple of tennis balls to break down any clumps that may form during the cycle.