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March 2014 Issue
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Budget bag cleaning

Wash your bag thoroughly in a bath, using a down-specific way such as Granger's or Nikwax
Add years to the life of your sleeping bag with these cleaning tips from Trek n Travel’s Colin Hancock

A good down bag can last 20-30 years if you treat it well – that means keeping it clean so the down lofts and continues to provide insulation. I’d recommend cleaning your bag at least every four to five years, more often if you use it a lot (you can judge by the smell if a wash is due).

There are easier ways to clean your bag than hand-washing. A front-loading washing machine at home for one. I prefer to take my bag to the laundrette with a bottle of down-specific wash. Laundrette machines are large, front-loading and have a fast spin cycle which drains the water from the bag. But if you don’t want that expense and you only have a top loading machine at home, your only option is hand washing (the gyrating action of top loading machines can pull the bag’s baffles apart).

  • You need to hand wash on a good day: hot dry conditions are ideal.
  • Wash the bag thoroughly in a bath of water with Nikwax or Grangers down-specific wash
  • Drain the bath and squeeze the bag until no more soap comes out
  • Rinse the bag thoroughly
  • Place the bag in a basket, take it outside and lie it flat (don’t hang it up or you’ll end up with more down in some parts than others)
  • Turn the bag over occasionally so it dries evenly
  • When it feels completely dry put it into the dryer with one or two tennis balls and set it to cool (the tennis balls break up the clumps).
  • Check it after about 10-15 minutes to see if it has fluffed up completely (no clumps left) – it shouldn’t take long.