washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

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washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby myrtlegirl » Mon 12 Apr, 2021 4:57 pm

Hey folks,
I've just washed an old down bag in my washing machine (gentle cycle) with ordinary Omo washing powder and dried it on the line for a day. It came up a treat, all fluffy and sweet-smelling, with no down clumps. So I did my expensive 700loft bag too, and it seems just fine.

Am I missing something? Why are we told to treat these things so carefully (a.k.a. pay a lot to get them cleaned)?
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby wayno » Mon 12 Apr, 2021 5:04 pm

what you did is fine, some people put them in a drier with tennis balls to break up any potential clumps...
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby michael_p » Mon 12 Apr, 2021 5:08 pm

I've washed down quilts and down jackets in my front loader washing machine, then put them through the dryer with tennis balls and never had a problem. All have come out just fine.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Joynz » Mon 12 Apr, 2021 8:59 pm

People tend to be concerned about damaging the internal baffles which can be delicate in lightweight bags.

But that may be more of an issue if lifting up a heavy, and water-laden bag when hand washing.

I think many people just find a washing service convenient.

Great instructions here from S2S: https://seatosummitusa.com/blogs/ask-ba ... eeping-bag
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Al M » Mon 12 Apr, 2021 11:03 pm

I thought the safest recommendation is to hand wash in a warm bath tub water using special outdoor gear down detergent to avoid potential tearing of baffles, two rinses, spin dry it and dry outside on a hot sunny day laid out flat.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby wayno » Tue 13 Apr, 2021 4:37 am

Al M wrote:I thought the safest recommendation is to hand wash in a warm bath tub water using special outdoor gear down detergent to avoid potential tearing of baffles, two rinses, spin dry it and dry outside on a hot sunny day laid out flat.


thats one of the safer options, gentle cycle on a washing machine is ok,
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby myrtlegirl » Tue 13 Apr, 2021 9:19 am

Al M wrote:I thought the safest recommendation is to hand wash in a warm bath tub water using special outdoor gear down detergent to avoid potential tearing of baffles, two rinses, spin dry it and dry outside on a hot sunny day laid out flat.


Yes, I thought that. It's a serious PITA to wash it in the bath tub (assuming you have a bath in the first place), and surely not good for the bag to lug it all heavy and wet between bath and washing machine several times.

I hung the bag on the line, it wasn't very heavy, it dried in a day, when dry I shook it a bit and any down clumps dispersed. I also used a top-loader with no drama, though I can see how the impeller could damage a delicate bag. I have used a dryer, and didn't use tennis balls, and it was just fine.

It really wasn't any more hassle than laundering sheets!

I've put off washing the bag because it's a PITA either getting to the specialist cleaner, or getting to the camping place to buy the fancy down wash then to the laundry with the top loader and dryer, then the next time remembering where I stored the fancy down wash. Not to mention the $ that I'd rather spend on new gear.

I think I've been marketed to. Surprise, surprise.....
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Warin » Tue 13 Apr, 2021 9:39 am

My front loader has a 'hand wash' setting .... handbook says it uses 3 times the amount of water than the regular setting.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Franco » Tue 13 Apr, 2021 12:10 pm

The reason why pure soap ( also called down soap or similar) is reccomended is because detergent (like OMO) can strip the down of all the oils that coat it making it less moisture/water resistant.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby ribuck » Tue 13 Apr, 2021 12:21 pm

I think the advice to not use a washing machine is from the days when machines were usually top-loaders with agitator blades. Nowadays many machines are front-loaders, or top-loaders without an agitator, and I suspect using the "gentle cycle" on these machines is as gentle as hand-washing in the bath. But a machine with agitator blades could easily rip the bag.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby gbagua » Sun 18 Apr, 2021 7:45 am

Franco wrote:The reason why pure soap ( also called down soap or similar) is reccomended is because detergent (like OMO) can strip the down of all the oils that coat it making it less moisture/water resistant.


Correct. Regular detergent is way too harsh to wash down equipment. Better use a dedicated product, eg. Nikwax, or a delicates detergent: in Australia "Fluffy" is sold at the supermarket, which is neutral.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 18 Apr, 2021 1:23 pm

I was informed years ago that specialist cleaning agents were more to do with free rinsing properties than anything else. Ordinary household detergents such as Omo are full of fillers and fragrance and fabric softeners, which being humectants you do not want in a sleeping bag
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Stew63 » Sun 18 Apr, 2021 5:22 pm

Spent a good part my day today washing/rinsing/rinsing/rinsing... a down sleeping bag in the bathtub today. Note to self - never lend down sleeping bags (newish) for Easter 4wd trips in the alps - even if they say 'yes we'll look after it'. Came back with vomit, beer and dirt all over it! Lucky it wasn't one of my top end down bags. Never again! After todays effort I can't imagine washing a bag in a machine - hand washing it took me 1hr just to gently remove all the air from the bag - was like a big stubborn balloon.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby commando » Mon 19 Apr, 2021 3:07 pm

There is no way i would wash a top quality goose down bag in a washing machine
Bathtub
Wool wash with eucalyptus
Soak Rinse
As it contains a few litres of water on finish a nice big plastic bucket to carry it out to the clothes line
No need for driers and tennis balls usage fixes that problem

Note:
I have a Katmandu down jacket which i dont really like (pale blue and was so cheap i had to buy it) and have been
trying for years to wear it out it has many silicone glue repairs where i have ripped it open that goes in the
washing machine about once a month, its funny how the less you like something the longer it lasts.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 19 Apr, 2021 3:34 pm

Stew63 wrote:hand washing it took me 1hr just to gently remove all the air from the bag - was like a big stubborn balloon.


Turns out that part is actually quick and easy once you know how. Thankfully, my brother gave me the simple tip before the first time I washed my old J&H Winterlite in a bathtub.

You fill up the bath fairly full. Then place the compression bag - with the sleeping bag still compressed in it - well under the water. Hold it completely under the water while pulling it out of the compression sack. It will expand and loft up as usual, except with water instead of air. Just be careful that it remains completely under water during the process of extracting it from the compression sack.

When it comes time to squeeze the water out, do this by stuffing it back into the compression sack (in the emptied bath tub, of course).

Do it all again the same way before and after rinsing.

As others have done, he also recommended drying it in an industrial sized tumble drier at a launderette with a tennis ball or two - larger space for it to move about during drying, and the ball can bounce around to help break up the clumps of down, which also helps it to dry faster. Remove the bag from the dryer occasionally and rearrange it. Don't tell the people in the launderette that you want to put tennis balls in the machine - some of them freak out at the idea of that!

I'm sure hanging it on the line in the back yard would also dry just fine, but that may take quite some time in some climates - probably several days in a Tasmanian winter (during which time it's likely to rain again). If hanging it on the line at home, manually breaking up the clumps of down is still a good idea so that they can dry better (or otherwise extra drying time for clumped down should be allowed for).

Argh - reminds me that my bag is way overdue for a good wash. I nearly passed out from the smell last time I used it. :-(
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby stry » Mon 19 Apr, 2021 8:14 pm

Stew63 wrote:Spent a good part my day today washing/rinsing/rinsing/rinsing... a down sleeping bag in the bathtub today. Note to self - never lend down sleeping bags (newish) for Easter 4wd trips in the alps - even if they say 'yes we'll look after it'. Came back with vomit, beer and dirt all over it! Lucky it wasn't one of my top end down bags. Never again! After todays effort I can't imagine washing a bag in a machine - hand washing it took me 1hr just to gently remove all the air from the bag - was like a big stubborn balloon.


I have not lent, and will not lend, sleeping bags or tents to anyone. IMMEDIATE family are excepted, and I once lent a high quality sleeping bag to a trusted and conscientious female friend with no regrets and no issues.

Refusals, no matter how tactful and diplomatic, have occasionaly not been well received. Tough !
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 20 Apr, 2021 9:21 am

stry wrote:I have not lent, and will not lend, sleeping bags or tents to anyone. IMMEDIATE family are excepted, and I once lent a high quality sleeping bag to a trusted and conscientious female friend with no regrets and no issues.

Refusals, no matter how tactful and diplomatic, have occasionaly not been well received. Tough !


I am also very reluctant to lend out tents and sleeping bags, after some bad experiences. They are both quite fragile and quite expensive.

The first time I lent a tent to somebody, it came back with both of the poles broken. They didn't tell me and I only found out when I was pitching the tent the next time I was out bush. Thankfully, the abundant dogwood in the forest I camped in made for excellent tunnel tent poles (although the tapering nature of branches, made them much more flexible at one end than the other, and the tent had an odd lopsided shape).

I was foolish enough to lend the same tent out one more time, and was also foolish enough to not check it all before I went walking next time. This particular tent required 14 pegs (don't ask!). It came back with 2! I spent a considerable amount of time sitting in the pouring rain whittling pegs out of sticks that evening, after walking all the way to Windermere from Dove Lake, and the hut being full of smelly people hanging their smelly socks around the heater (there were no tent platforms back then). I never bought new pegs for this tent, and continued to use my home-made wooden ones until the tent eventually died in a storm on shelf camp.
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Nuts » Tue 20 Apr, 2021 10:44 am

I just use home machines on gentle settings, and with a dedicated soap.

Beware the commercial driers. No issue personally but stopped using them when a young friend melted his two Marmot bags. Maybe faulty heating or maybe as they were likely the only things in there (whereas I'd do 3 or 4 together or otherwise dry with a full load)?
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Re: washing a down sleeping bag in the ordinary way

Postby Stew63 » Wed 21 Apr, 2021 7:39 am

Thanks SonOfABeach regarding putting the bag in the compression sack to initiate the washing process - brilliant! (Kinda seems obvious now doesn't it :lol: )
Regarding lending gear out - I never lend my top end bags/quilt/tents to anyone only my base/mid level stuff - but not anymore.
Nuts - I only used the big comnmercial drier on low or medium heat setting and the bag was just fine - came up brilliantly. I was not game to use the high setting.
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