How to Reloft a Down Sleeping Bag (AVOID Doing This!)

Washing and drying a down sleeping bag using special soap and some clean tennis balls in an air-only mode in a high-capacity front-loading commercial dryer is one of the most successful procedures for regaining some of the loft’s original volume.

Sleeping bags with lumps and bumps in their bedding When things go wrong, they can happen to anyone. There are many reasons why a down sleeping bag or blanket will lose its loft. For example, leaving it in a stuffed bag for too long may have caused it to decompress.

The lack of warmth your backpacking blanket provides on the first night of a camping trip after a period of inactivity would indicate that it has lost loft, regardless of whether it appears lumpy or flat when you first take it out. Worse yet, Your sleeping bag’s loft needs to be restored for this reason.

Restore the Loft in a Down Sleeping Bag- 7 Steps

The steps to Reloft your down sleeping bag are here – 

Step 1: Handshake Method

If it doesn’t fluff up after a handshake, try putting it on the floor and shaking it again. It is the simplest and most effective solution if your clean-down bag or quilt has been stored in a compression bag for several months to a year.

Step 2: Using a Dryer (no heat)

Use dryer balls or clean shoes to loosen clumps from your down sleeping bag or blanket and restore the loft in one fell swoop.

Some experts advocate using low heat while doing this, but you could wind up with melted places on the outside of your bag if you do so.

So again, the bag is the deciding factor. Check the manufacturer’s directions first, and if you’re unsure, ask around.

Step 3: Hanging & Beating

For clumps, try un-clumping them by hand or pounding them with a stick while they’re hanging up. To help feathers scatter and blend, gently massage clumps with your hands or a brush.

As an alternative, hang your bag or quilt out to dry on a clothesline or drying rack and use a tennis or badminton racket (or something similar) to speed up the drying process if clumping is a problem.

Step 4: Wash Your Quilt

You can wash your bag or quilt. Try this if you’ve exhausted all other options and are still experiencing difficulties. Especially if you didn’t wash it before putting it away, this is likely to be a problem.

Step 5: Use Your Hand

Most hikers wash their sleeping bags in one of two ways. The first option is to do it by hand in the tub. It is the best and safest option if you’re concerned about damaging your bag or quilt.

The second most popular alternative is a laundromat or a sizeable front-loading washing machine. Unfortunately, most top-loading washing machines have an agitator in the middle, which can harm your sleeping bag.

No matter which solution you choose, use a special down wash like Nikwax Down Wash or Gear Aid’s Revivex Down Cleaner.

Step 6: Take It to the Expert

You can also take it to a specialist or the manufacturer if nothing else works to see whether it has been broken down.

Rainy Pass Repair can do several things for your sleeping bag, like washing, adding new down if necessary, or replacing your entire sleeping bag if it’s worn out or completely broken. No need to part with your beloved purse!

Step 7: Use the Sewing Machine

A sewing machine is all you need to replace the down. It is a worthwhile endeavor if you don’t mind looking like you’ve just been tarred and feathered.

hand washing of a sleeping bad

Why Should You Buy a Down Sleeping Bag?

There are numerous benefits to purchasing a Down sleeping bag, including:

  • Re-fluffing down sleeping bags is a cinch.
  • It’s also easier to restore the loft in these materials, and
  • They’re generally more durable than synthetic down and other synthetic mixtures.

How to Keep Your Sleeping Bag From Delofting

As with most things in life, preventing problems before they arise is the key to success. So while it’s easy to think of products as more challenging to maintain than synthetic ones, this isn’t necessarily the case.

When it comes to protecting and prolonging the life of a lightweight quilt or sleeping bag, proper care is essential.

However, these annoyances can be avoided by following a few easy steps.

  • Hanging your belongings on a clothes hanger or storage bag is the best and most straightforward way to keep them safe and secure from dust and dirt. But, to put it another way, don’t keep it in a storage bag for long periods.
  • Take it out of the bag as soon as you set up camp. It takes longer for a down blanket or bag to lose its loft if it is decompressed over an extended period. Plus, it’ll be all fluffed up and ready to keep you warm when you get home from your outdoor adventures at the end of the day.
  • Please keep it clean at all costs. Dirt, dust, and other natural debris are not the only things that can cause a down item to become dirty when used in a tent.

Your skin’s oils might seep into your quilt over time, causing the down feathers to clump. Do your best to clean yourself off before bed, especially if you’re using baby wipes, to remove as much dirt, sweat, and additional oil as possible from your skin.

  • Consider regularly applying a waterproofing agent to the exterior to prevent moisture, filth, and grime from getting into your bag. There are specialized solutions available, such as Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On Waterproofing.

Best Down Sleeping Bags 

When it comes to loft and life expectancy, quality (mature) duck down can match or surpass that of goose down. Excellent sleeping bags can be made from either type of down.

However, you must remember that a sleeping bag’s design and construction are as important (if not more critical) than its down fill in maximizing warmth and comfort.

You should expect your sleeping bag to be lighter and more compact with 850+Loft down filling than one with 750+Loft filling. In terms of weight, this is an excellent option for those who like to travel light while camping.

To have the same EN temperature rating as the 850+Loft, you’ll need to use a lot more 650+Loft down. Your sleeping bag’s weight capacity is totally up to you. There’s no harm in a few additional grams, especially if your vehicle will be carrying the weight.

Click on the EN temperature link above if you have questions about how temperature ratings are established or what they mean for your particular application.

How to Clean a Down Sleeping Bag

To prevent your bag from losing its loft and turning black from dirt, give it a good washing.

You can check to see if the manufacturer’s washing instructions are printed elsewhere on the bag, such as on a tag, draft tube, or someplace else. Make sure you’re following the instructions strictly.

It’s common for folks to have their bags cleaned by a professional. Bag-washing services are available through a partnership between REI and Rainy Pass Repairs. It is a great way to protect what could turn out to be a considerable financial commitment.

How to Clean a Down Sleeping Bag

It takes at least two to three hours to dry a bag if you wash and dry it yourself (down takes a little longer than synthetic). The laundromat may be the most convenient place to wash and dry your clothes.

Wash down-filled goods with a gentle, non-detergent soap specifically intended for this purpose. When it comes to washing down sleeping bags, there are two options:

  • Hand washing and
  • Machine washing.

Hand Washing a Down Sleeping Bag:

If you don’t have access to a front-loading washing machine, you may always hand wash your sleeping bag. It will take longer, but some people believe it is kinder to their prized bag if they do it this way.

Assuming you do not have a sizeable front-loading dryer, you must hang your sleeping bag to dry. The following are the instructions for washing your sleeping bag by hand.

Required Materials List:

Steps to Follow:

  • Fill the tub halfway with cool or warm water using the prescribed cleaner for your down or synthetic bag. Avoid overdosing on the soap, as it will be more challenging to wash away.
  • Using a sponge or a brush, apply soap to the bag and knead it into the fabric. Let it soak for up to an hour and wait.
  • Remove the tub from the sink and wring out any remaining water.
  • Pour cool or warm water into the tub and gently press the soap out before draining the bag. To remove any remaining water, push it out. Rinse again and again until the soap has been eliminated.
  • As much water as possible should be extracted from the bag. Then, using your hands, gather everything into a ball and carry it to the dryer. It keeps the seams from getting strained or ripped.
  • When drying the bag, use a large dryer if you have one. If your dryer is so little that your wet bag is still balled up, you’ll need to take it to the laundromat.
  • Outside in the sun or partial shade, set your luggage on a clean surface to dry (such as grass or a beach towel). Breaking apart clumps of insulation as the bag dries may be necessary.

Machine Washing of a Down Sleeping Bag

Your down sleeping bag may be machine washed in just a few simple steps. First, check the bag’s label to determine if there are any additional requirements from the bag manufacturer.

Because the entire treatment can take anywhere from 4-6 hours, be prepared to wait.

Materials Required:

  • Large front-loading washer (we recommend visiting a laundromat for this)
  • Granger Down Wash, Gear Aid ReviveX Down Wash, or Nikwax Down Wash are examples of special down soaps.
  • Tennis Balls, Wool Dryer Balls, or Clean Sneakers – for large front-loading dryers to help break up clumps when drying. If you prefer to wear sneakers, wrap them in socks to prevent the tread on the bottom of the shoes from snagging and ripping your sleeping bag.

Steps to Follow:

1. Make sure you read the washing and drying directions on your sleeping bag’s label before you start. These guidelines should govern the water temperature and the washing machine settings.

2. Flip it over, zip it up, and toss it in the washing machine. Please look at the washing machine and ensure it’s not agitated. In some top-loading machines, an agitator is a spinner with grooves and fins that can separate a down sleeping bag.

3. Make sure there are no foreign objects in the washing machine that could snag your luggage. Additionally, check to see if the detergent dispenser has any residue visible inside, as this could strip your feathers.

4. Then, as directed on the bottle, add the down soap and shake well. NikiWax down soap is recommended at a rate of 100 ml each wash. The use of bleach, bleach alternatives, and fabric softener is strictly prohibited. Also, don’t use regular detergent because it will strip you of its natural oils.

5. Set the temperature of the water to match the temperature of your sleeping bag label. Use the sensitive (or moderate) cycle instead. Look for soap bubbles in the bag once the process is over to see if all the soap suds have been removed.

why sleeping bad?

Your sleeping bag will need to be hand washed without soap if there is any left. As a result, we’ve found that this is rarely required.

6. Tumble dry your bag on low heat in the dryer. It’s essential to keep the temperature low. If you don’t, the high heat will destroy your bag’s down feathers.

Generally, it takes three to five hours for a down sleeping bag to dry completely. Keep an eye on the drying progress by checking in frequently.

7. Open the lid and drop in 3-6 tennis balls or a clean pair of sneakers when your sleeping bag is almost dry. Use these items to fluff up your sleeping bag by helping the dryer disperse feathers that may have clumped up during washing.

The bag should be hung or stored loosely and uncompressed when completely dried.

Your Down Sleeping Bag’s Drying Process

  • The low-heat setting for the dryer Keeping an eye on the machine’s temperature is a good idea. Fabric or synthetic stuffing may melt if the temperature rises too high.
  • Add two or three clean tennis balls (or a light pair of clean sneakers) to the dryer when a down bag is nearly dry. As it spins, it will help dislodge any clumps of down and restore loft.
  • Make sure your luggage is dry before placing it in its storage bag. Then, to be on the safe side, leave it out all night on a bed or hang it up on the toe loops of the soles.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Should a Down Sleeping Bag Be Expected To Last?

A long-term investment in a high-quality down sleeping bag can be expected to last ten years or more, lessening the price shock associated with many of these bags. Synthetic insulation can’t compare to the compressibility of down.

2. Do Down Sleeping Bags Lose Their Feathers?

Manufacturers of sleeping bags will warn you that their products will have some leakage. However, seeing how many feathers are in an ounce of down would put you at ease, and it’s nothing to worry about—some of my baggage date back over three decades. A few feathers have been fluffed yearly, but it doesn’t bother them.

3. Why Should You Use a Down Sleeping Bag?

The best warmth-to-packability ratio of down sleeping bags makes them a favorite of light campers worldwide.

There is a price difference between a down sleeping bag and a synthetic-insulated bag. So make sure to know what you’re paying for and relying on before venturing into the wild.

4. What Should I Keep in Mind When Washing My Sleeping Bags?

As a general rule, here are some things to avoid when cleaning down sleeping bags:

  • In my opinion, It’s not a good idea to dry clean your sleeping bag. The solvents used in dry cleaning can remove the down’s natural oils, which help it retain its loft.
  • Bleach substitutes like fabric softener and bleach
  • aren’t suitable. If you wash your sleeping bag, ensure it’s not in a machine with an agitator. Damage to the seams can result from agitation. Without an agitator, you can use a top-loading washer.

Finishing up

Don’t give up hope on your beloved sleeping back to life. There are ways to revive the fibers in a sleeping bag.

However, with down bags, you stand a better chance. So clean the bag, tumble it carefully, and give it a new lease on life for your next trip.

The top 5 processes to revive/reloft a down sleeping bag –

  • Handshake Method
  • Using a dryer
  • Shaking & Beating
  • Wash the quilt
  • Take it to the expert

You may also like: How To Restore Loft to a Synthetic Sleeping Bag?