Sleeping Bag on Ground

Sleeping Bag Maintenance – How to Keep Your Sleeping Bag in Top Shape


George Cummings
June 13, 2022

A sleeping bag can last up to 10 years if it is made of quality material and well cared for. 

Synthetic fill sleeping bags and sleeping bags with down feathers have the potential to last the longest, but with any type of material, sleeping bag maintenance is the best way to increase longevity. 

Here are a few tips to follow on how to keep your sleeping bag in top shape for years to come 

  • Use Proper Storage Techniques 
  • Exercise Special Care when Washing Your Sleeping Bag
  • Take Preventative Measures while in Use to Preserve Longevity
  • Perform Routine Repairs and Inspections

Keep these ideas in mind to get the most out of your sleeping bag, so you can rely on it for your future hiking and camping endeavors. Check out our in-depth look at how to keep your sleeping bag in its top shape below.

Use Proper Storage Techniques 

Properly storing your sleeping bag on the road and at home is key to keeping its shape and making the best use of your space. It also helps the material inside stay safe.

A sleeping bag can be bulky. Its bulkiness often results in packing it in the bottom of a bin without its proper casing. Be sure to store it in the stuff bag it comes in for the best results. 

Air out the sleeping bag daily while you are on your journey. Turn it inside out and let any moisture inside of it get out. Be careful not to leave it out in direct sunlight for too long. 

If you do not plan to use the sleeping bag for a while once you return, routinely air it out so it does not sit compressed in a storage unit for months at a time. 

When you are not using the sleeping bag on the road and at home, place it in a waterproof stuff sack to keep it dry and protected. Some brands sell these specific to their sleeping bags separately. Others come with this type of stuff sack. If your bag is waterproof, turn it inside out to store it. 

Wash Your Sleeping Bag with Care

The best way to launder a sleeping bag is to hand wash it or spot clean it. Spot cleaning should be your first line of defense. When you spot clean, use a gentle cleanser or soap. You do not want to ruin the material of the sleeping bag with aggressive scrubbing. 

If you need to deep clean it, machine washing is the way to go. Wash the sleeping bag with care! Hand washing is the best way to fully clean a synthetic bag, a down bag, a cotton bag, and more. 

If you need to machine wash your sleeping bag to deodorize or clean up bigger messes, check the manufacturer’s tag for machine washing care instructions about water temperature, dryer cycle, or washer cycle. You can likely use a standard detergent or mild soap on a gentle cycle. Air drying is the best choice with a sleeping bag. 

Use a front loading washing machine instead of a top loading machine. A front loading washer does not have the components that can damage the item during sleeping bag washing.

Some people prefer to have the sleeping bag professionally laundered, which is a foolproof way to have it done correctly without worrying if you have messed it up. Check your local outdoor gear store for recommendations on this. 

Do not dry clean your bag. Some chemicals used there can harm it. Do not use fabric softener, bleach, or bleach alternatives because the fabric cannot handle it. Avoid washing the sleeping bag in a top-loading washing machine because it can strain or rip the seams. 

Take Preventative Measures to Preserve Longevity 

Preventative measures while using the sleeping bag are key to avoiding possible mishaps while on your trip. Consider sleeping with a sleeping bag liner. The liner fabric acts as a barrier between your skin and the sleeping bag. 

Always sleep in clean clothes. Clean clothes preserve your sleeping bag interior. It is a good rule of thumb to change clothes after cooking, so your sleeping bag does not smell like food. The smell can attract bears if you camp in bear country.

Use a sleeping pad if you are sleeping on the bare ground outdoors. It is more comfortable and protects your sleeping bag from anything harmful on the natural ground like sharp sticks. 

Do not jump around in your sleeping bag at any time. It can damage the foot of the sleeping bag compromising its ability to keep you warm and protected from the outside. 

Avoid sitting beside an open flame, like a campfire, wrapped in a sleeping bag. This is a fire hazard. It can also damage your sleeping bag by making it smell like smoke or tiny embers landing on it, creating small holes. 

Perform Routine Repairs and Inspections 

Whether you are on the road or at home, routinely inspecting your sleeping bag is always a good idea. If you notice a small hole, a broken zipper, or loose threads, you can likely fix these yourself. If you need to perform repairs, do so carefully so you do not exacerbate the issue worse. 

Two-way zippers can get stuck, a snag, or come apart. If this happens, be gentle and attempt to repair it. 

Pro Tip: It is always good practice to get familiar with the zippers on tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gear before heading out into the wild. Practice with them at home.

To fix a hole, if it is small enough, you can sew it by hand. A patch made from thick adhesive tape is another good option. If you have none of these tools at your disposal, you can use first aid bandages until you get home. Have a professional look at it as soon as you return. 

Take a look at your stuff sacks or other storage sack to determine if they need mending as well. They should be durable water repellent bags that can safely store your bag inside for long periods. 

Final Thoughts 

Sleeping bags are expensive, and you do not want to throw money down the drain by ruining sleeping bags and causing you to repurchase them. Using excellent storage habits and good hygiene will keep your sleeping bag in prime condition for longer. 

Keeping your sleeping bag in top shape does not require extra steps or inconveniences. Some measures like performing routine sleeping bag maintenance during unpacking and taking care while cleaning might be things you already do! Being more mindful about the specifics during these processes will help extend your sleeping bag lifespan. 

As always, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on your sleeping bag for the best results. However, we think these four tips are useful to the hiker, camper, mountaineer, and beyond!

George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.