How to wash your down sleeping bag.

A step-by-step guide to restore your duck down sleeping bag to its original state.

When your sleeping bag is dirty it loses loft and its insulation. Most down sleeping bags and jackets come with care instructions. Unfortunately, the majority require big commercial front loading washing machines. South African laundromats only have top loading machines, with a centre agitator (the white piece in the centre of the drum), that can tear wet down or even rip the baffles inside your bag.

This meant we have had to hand-wash our down bags and jackets. After a few washes we have learnt what to do and what not to do, to make this already tedious task a little less frustrating.

Here's a step-by-step guide:

   
  
 
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      1.        Run a bath with luke-warm water. Cold water doesn’t clean it as effectively as luke-warm water.

1.     Run a bath with luke-warm water. Cold water doesn’t clean it as effectively as luke-warm water.

   
  
 
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      2.        Use a down friendly detergent. Normal detergents will strip the down of its natural oils.

2.     Use a down friendly detergent. Normal detergents will strip the down of its natural oils.

   
  
 
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      3.        Unzip your bag and force all of the air out of the bag while it is still dry – this is near impossible when the bag is wet. The less air in the baffles when you submerge the bag, the easier it is to get all of it under water.

3.     Unzip your bag and force all of the air out of the bag while it is still dry – this is near impossible when the bag is wet. The less air in the baffles when you submerge the bag, the easier it is to get all of it under water.

   
  
 
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     4.        Roll your bag up with the inside facing out. Your bag’s inner is more breathable than its outer, which will allow it to fill with water quicker.

4.     Roll your bag up with the inside facing out. Your bag’s inner is more breathable than its outer, which will allow it to fill with water quicker.

   
  
 
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     5.        Submerge your compressed bag and hold it under water. Slowly release section by section to let it fill up with water.

5.     Submerge your compressed bag and hold it under water. Slowly release section by section to let it fill up with water.

   
  
 
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      6.        Leave your bag to soak for 10 minutes, then agitate it thoroughly.

6.     Leave your bag to soak for 10 minutes, then agitate it thoroughly.

   
  
 
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     7.        Drain the soapy water and rinse access soap. 

7.     Drain the soapy water and rinse access soap. 

   
  
 
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     8.        Lift the bag out of the tub length-wise, so the baffles run horizontally. If you lift it with the baffles running vertically the water and wet down sloshes to the bottom of the baffle, compacting the down and making it hard to untangle.

8.     Lift the bag out of the tub length-wise, so the baffles run horizontally. If you lift it with the baffles running vertically the water and wet down sloshes to the bottom of the baffle, compacting the down and making it hard to untangle.

   
  
 
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     9.        Zip the bag closed with the inside facing out and load it in your front-loader washing machine at home. Run a spin cycle to get rid off access water. 

9.     Zip the bag closed with the inside facing out and load it in your front-loader washing machine at home. Run a spin cycle to get rid off access water. 

   
  
 
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      10.        Tumble dry your bag at a laundromat. Use an industrial front-loader tumble dryer with a low- or no-heat setting. This is a time consuming process: the warmer your bags temperature rating, the longer this will take. Our -8° First Ascent Ice Breakers require three 45 minute cycles each.