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How to Clean and Reproof a Down Sleeping bag

By Dave Roberts   

on December 15, 2011    No ratings yet.

How to Clean and Reproof a Down Sleeping bag

This is probably one of the more daunting cleaning jobs, but not all that difficult if you’re prepared. It’s a good time of the year to get the spring/summer bag washed seeing as it’s not going to see much use for a good few months. Of course, it’s not the best time of year to dry it, so you will in all probability need to organise to get it tumble dried.

This method is only suitable for lightweight bags and it is recommended you professionally clean 3 – 4 season bags.

We washed a Pipedream 400 – 3°c bag which you ‘could’ technically machine wash, but we decided it was much more organic and photogenic to wash by hand.

You will need:

  • Manky Sleeping bag
  • One Bath
  • Means of drying the bag
  • Plenty of Time
  • Possibly a pair of gloves if you’re a little soft

1 – Cover the bottom of the bath with luke warm water, just enough to cover the bag which you put into it and add the Down Wash.  Gently agitate the bag and see how dirty the water gets (you’ll wash them more often from now onwards!) Leave it to soak for 10 minutes.

Once you see the colour of the water, you’ll wash the bag more often…

2 – Drain the water, pressing gently down on the bag to remove water.

3 – Refill the bath with lukewarm water.

4 – Drain again – rinse with cold water until it runs clear.

5 – Again refill with warm water and add Down Proof if you want to waterproof the bag slightly – a useful little extra to protect it. This stuff is a bit nasty on the hands, making them sticky, so this is the only bit you’ll need a pair of gloves.

6– Rinse with warm or cold water – until the water again runs clear. You may need to repeat this step.

7 – Drain as much water as you can from the bag by pressing gently. Don’t carry it soaking wet – the sodden down is heavy and can break the inner baffles of the bag. If water is draining from it, let it drain until doing anything else. Roll it up to move. We then gave it a quick spin the drier.

8 – Drying it is the hardest part. It is recommended that you place on a horizontal drying rack to support the weight– though who has one of those lying about? A clothes horse placed flat over the bath is one option, or less ideal is over a patio table outside with chairs taking the ends (but does not dry underneath). Ensure you agitate the down every few hours to prevent it from clumping – you can give it a good shake once it’s begun to dry out properly.

9 – Alternatively – tumble dry it on low with clean tennis balls or old trainers. These agitate the down and keep it fluffed up. Or you can give it a good shake and fondle between each cycle, as you’ll need to run it in the drier a good few hours. We took it down the local friendly launderette and got them to do it for us.

10 – Or try and find a company that’ll do it for you! If the bag is heavy, then you’ll probably need to send it away – this is the only one we could find online – Mountaineering-designs.co.uk.

11- All being well – your bag will now be clean and if done properly, with nice clean down it should perform better without all that grime. It’ll also repel water, more than well enough to cope with a bit of condensation and damp in the tent.

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Dave Roberts

siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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