Remove down from sleeping bag

Discussion about making bushwalking-related equipment.

Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Wed 14 Jul, 2021 5:53 pm

What is the best technique for removing all the down from a baffled bag or quilt? Can you just reach in and pull it out? Shake it out? Or is it tricky?
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby telemarktim » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 10:25 am

Orion wrote:What is the best technique for removing all the down from a baffled bag or quilt? Can you just reach in and pull it out? Shake it out? Or is it tricky?


Hi Orion, I need to do this job myself sometime soon to make a new super quilt for my down mat.

Reaching in and grabbing does work but is very messy in my limited experience. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom and work in the bath tube. I stuffed fists full of the down into a cardboard cone and weighed it before pushing it through into the new quilt pockets. I pinned the pocket closed after filling each pocket. I had someone pass in a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mess.

Using the vacuum cleaner right from the start might be better if you can weigh the down in it. It would be nice if you could simply reverse the fan to blow the down out into your new quilt?

If you use a clean vacuum cleaner to remove the down first, that will make a good start. I find that it makes the down form a solid clump that is easy to handle as a biscuit (still a bit messy).

My old Electrolux vacuum cleaner had a pipe connection on both ends so that it could be used as a blower.

You could probably make a cloth filter pad/disk to go in a piece of 50mm PVC pipe with reducer unions pushed on both ends. Suck the down in with your Dyson vacuum cleaner. Weigh the down by the increase in the weight. When the correct weight, remove the end unions and force the down plug out deep inside your new quilt pocket. The filter disk could have a fishing-line tether tied to it so that it would be easy to retrieve for the next fill.

I can post a sketch of the tube device sometime if you think this idea might help. If nothing else it will help to get my own thoughts straight.
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 10:55 am

I think you are describing ways to put new down into a sleeping bag. I want to know how best to remove the old down.
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby telemarktim » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 12:53 pm

Orion wrote:I think you are describing ways to put new down into a sleeping bag. I want to know how best to remove the old down.

Hi Orion, The vacuum cleaner will remove the down quite well. Just put something like a kitchen whisk up the pipe so that the fabric can't block the pipe opening.

Sorry, I misunderstood, I thought that you wanted to remove the down to transfer for use in something else.
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 1:09 pm

It's actually quite hard to remove all the down manually as the tiny barbs on the pin feathers get stuck into the baffle fabric. Only done it once to salvage the down to PIF the filling when I made that orange half bag.
I think that shaking as much as possible to one end and doing a single tube at a time might be best if you need to salvage the down. Otherwise perhaps just shoving the vacuum cleaner nozzle into the hole and run the cleaner while shaking the bag might work.
I have to ask the purpose of the removal tho
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 5:46 pm

Thanks, that was what I was afraid of, that it might be difficult to do. My 10 year old home made quilt needs new down. Twice in recent years I've added some more to revitalize it but it only helped a little, and made it heavier as well. The fabric is fine so I bought new 900 fill down and plan to replace the old, worn out down. I'll get it out somehow, just wondering what the best approach is.
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 5:47 pm

So it turns out it's not a big deal, I just reached in and pulled the old down out. Interesting how it had many little clumps, nuggets a few millimeters in diameter, that were mixed in with down that didn't seem too bad.

It didn't stick to the baffles like you experienced, Moondog. You must have had lower quality down. Maybe a higher percentage of butt feathers.
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Mark F » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 6:46 pm

Another technique is to soak to donor garment/bag until the down is wet. Then slit the fabric/open up the seams and scoop out the down into a large cotton bag (eg storage bag for sleeping bag). Allow to dry as you would with a sleeping bag (in sunlight or drier on low) and fluffing it up occasionally as it dries.
"Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove".
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 7:48 pm

Orion wrote:So it turns out it's not a big deal, I just reached in and pulled the old down out. Interesting how it had many little clumps, nuggets a few millimeters in diameter, that were mixed in with down that didn't seem too bad.

It didn't stick to the baffles like you experienced, Moondog. You must have had lower quality down. Maybe a higher percentage of butt feathers.


I like Marks method and yes my down was older stuff [550] but also mesh baffle material
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 9:42 pm

I was joking about the butt feathers. A very small amount of down stuck to the mesh in my quilt as well. It reminded me of how I had contemplated using Cuben for the baffles but decided that the weight savings wouldn't be enough to bother. It would have allowed me to get every little bit of down though.

I thought about wetting the quilt but was afraid it would actually make it harder since the down wouldn't move easily and the fabric would stick together. It's an arm's length reach into those tubes. I am wetting it in the receiving bin to minimize down flying everywhere. I don't plan to dry it out though, just dispose of it. What would you do with a garbage bag full of tired old down?
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 9:58 pm

Compost or wait until Spring and scatter it, the birds will pick up almost every little tiny bit for nest materials
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Remove down from sleeping bag

Postby Orion » Sun 18 Jul, 2021 12:23 am

That's an interesting idea. It's a lot of down to scatter though, particularly in a city.

It's summer here, although in San Francisco that often means gray and wet. Unfortunately we have a paltry amount of bird life compared to Australia. It's one of your country's riches and maybe the thing I miss most about visiting there.
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