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Advice on washing down sleeping bags
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John Mowery
(Mow) - F

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Advice on washing down sleeping bags on 07/10/2010 14:23:22 MDT Print View

I am washing my Marmot Hydrogen bag with Nikwax Down Wash right now. I also bought Nikwax Down Proof. Is the down proof necessary? I'm concerned it might damage the down. Should I just apply TX Direct spray on waterproofing instead?

Thanks for the help.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
washing down sleeping bags on 07/10/2010 17:48:46 MDT Print View

A mild soap, such as Woolite or Ivory liguid (not the dish detergent), should not damage the DWR coating on a down bag. For my quilts, I use the gentle cycle, spin in the perma-press cycle to get more of the water out, then dry in the perma-press cycle with tennis balls and fabric softener sheets. After three or four cycles, about 3-4 hours, the quilts come out fine, but I cannot guarantee that the tennis balls would not damage the baffles on a not too sturdy bag. Nikwax Schmikwax.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Atsko Sport Wash on 07/10/2010 17:58:33 MDT Print View

I researched this topic extensively some time ago. I would use ( and I've done it) Atsko Sport Wash which is available at some WalMarts, although i bought mine online. This renews down and Goretex and removes all odors and perfumes which can hurt the loft of down and plug up your goretex and diminish your fleece loft. The Atsko website has good technical information. Roger Caffin posted about it some time ago.It's actually economical too. I've read that Woolite is no longer the pure soap it once was.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Nikwax on 07/10/2010 18:02:09 MDT Print View

Nikwax products don't use Teflon DWR coatings so many find them less effective than other DWR coatings. It is a whole topic of concern for renewing coatings. What fabric is the shell of your Hydrogen made from? Is it water resistant? Also I assume you are planning on drying your bag in a front loading dryer , preferably a large one at a Laundromat?

Edited by Meander on 07/10/2010 18:08:55 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Nikwax on 07/10/2010 18:04:53 MDT Print View

I thought the fabric softener was bad for the DWR. I never use it for my outdoor gear.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Nikwax on 07/10/2010 18:05:21 MDT Print View

"What fabric is the shell of your Helium made from?"

There is no Helium mentioned here.


John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Hydrogen on 07/10/2010 18:08:25 MDT Print View

Right. I mixed up the two bag names. Dryer sheets plug up DWR coatings.

John Mowery
(Mow) - F

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Advice on washing down sleeping bags on 07/10/2010 19:56:56 MDT Print View

The shell is made of nylon rip stop - I don't know exactly which one. It is water resistant and I'm just trying to make certain it stays that way. I am currently hanging it in my garage to dry.

Thanks for all the help.

Michael Kujawa
(kujawa71) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NorthWest
WASHING DOWN BAG on 07/10/2010 21:04:27 MDT Print View

The first thing you should do is buy some down soup and fallow the directions on the bottle. The use of other cleaners my remove the oil from the down feathers. Also buy a bag of cheap tennis balls about 10-15 balls.
Wash the bag in a large front load machine with warm water or what ever the soup bottle says.
Dry the bag with the tennis balls in a large drier on LOW HEAT. You can dry it with no heat but it will take forever. The tennis balls help break up the clumps of down and speeds up the drying. Make sure there are no metal burs, gum or anything else bad in the drier. When the bag is dry you should notice a big improvement in the loft.

Edited by kujawa71 on 07/10/2010 21:12:55 MDT.

Hugh Teegan
(hteegan) - MLife
why not follow the manufacturers recommendations? on 07/10/2010 22:55:32 MDT Print View

Luke Moffat
(alaska_lanche) - MLife
Great info!!! on 07/11/2010 02:39:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for the heads up guys

Bill Markwood
Rainy Pass Repair on 07/11/2010 11:49:21 MDT Print View

Or, you can send it to these guys

Michael Kujawa
(kujawa71) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NorthWest
RAINY PASS REPAIR on 07/11/2010 12:38:01 MDT Print View

Rainy Pass is expansive and they use the same method I described above.


Locale: Western Michigan
Care and Storage Of Your Down Sleeping Bag on 07/11/2010 12:42:34 MDT Print View

I think you will find this a very informative site AND will answer all your questions:


Mid way down on the page you will find an excellent video presentation:
"Click here to watch a video describing how to properly wash, dry and apply a new DWR finish to a down sleeping bag."

You may experience periodic “Stop & Go” issues with the video but hang in there; it is worth your time and effort.

Edited by KENLARSON on 07/11/2010 12:46:08 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Advice on washing down sleeping bags on 07/11/2010 12:46:54 MDT Print View

Down-specific soap: check.
Front-load washer: check.
DWR restorer: Not needed. A relatively hot dryer will restore the DWR's water-repellent properties. Only clothing should require DWR restoration, after repeated washings.

FWIW I've not found the tennis ball/tennis shoe in the dryer trick to be necessary. Good down seems to restore its loft on its own once it's really dry. It may take some handwork to redistribute it, but that's all I've ever needed to do.

Enjoy your new old bag!


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Advice on washing down sleeping bags on 07/11/2010 15:23:23 MDT Print View

What Rick said.


Scott Toraason
Advice On Washing Down Bag on 07/12/2010 00:59:40 MDT Print View

If your down bag has a water resistant coating then wash it inside out in a front loader gentle cycle with extra rinse, finish with a fast spin. Dry on low heat and every 10 minutes or so pat down each baffle and pull apart the down clusters as I am not aware of a down manufacturer that recommends putting tennis shoes or balls in the dryer as they can tear the stitching between the baffles. Only use cleaning solutions recommended for down.


Locale: Western Michigan
Care and Storage Of Your Down Sleeping Bag on 07/12/2010 06:57:12 MDT Print View

Three companies most mentioned on BPL that make excellent products and have definite bias towards cleaning and storage that I would look at BEFORE I got into washing and storing my down sleeping equipment for the first time would be:

Feathered Friends



Edited by KENLARSON on 07/12/2010 07:02:38 MDT.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Not tennis shoes on 07/12/2010 10:25:13 MDT Print View

Don't use tennis shoes in the dryer with your down equipment. They are too heavy and may damage the baffles.
Tennis balls >may< be ok.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
deleted dup on 07/12/2010 10:25:46 MDT Print View

deleted duplicate

Edited by ThinAir on 07/12/2010 10:26:28 MDT.