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Oily skin and down bags
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Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Oily skin and down bags on 02/24/2013 14:17:46 MST Print View

So I've been sleeping in my bag a lot more and I've noticed that my loft has been decreasing and that the shell material around my head has gotten a little discolored. I blame it all on my oily skin. I need to wash my bag, yes I know but here's my question:

How do synthetic bags/quilts fair with oily skin?

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Oily skin and down bags on 02/24/2013 16:29:05 MST Print View

You need to wash your bag periodically. Synthetic still utilizes lofted fibers that can be degraded by your body oils. I know some people are concerned that washing is going to ruin their bag, but if done properly it will extend the life and renew the performance of your bag.

This page on Western Mountaineering's site has good instructions on washing/caring for and down bag

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Post Trip Care on 02/24/2013 16:33:56 MST Print View

You can really stretch out the time between washing by following these two simple steps:

1. Wear long john's and liner socks to minimize skin-bag contact. Mine are silk - comfy and light weight.

2. After each trip -- wipe down with a clean, wet hand towel -- esp. the hood and foot bed -- then air out to dry before storing.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Oily skin and down bags on 02/24/2013 20:41:51 MST Print View

Ben said, "1. Wear long john's and liner socks to minimize skin-bag contact."

A big +1 on that!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Oily skin and down bags on 02/24/2013 20:57:41 MST Print View

Wash up before bed. Sunsreen, bug juice, your own juice all got to go.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Re: Oily skin and down bags on 02/25/2013 08:41:12 MST Print View

I agree that this "oil issue" applies to all bags other than those awesomely comfortable flannel-lined, rectangular bags with outdoorsey patterns in the liner... well, maybe those, also.

Anyway, as noted above, cleaning one-self and avoiding skin-to-bag contact is a big part of keeping the bag clean and "not-greasy". For teenagers with oily skin and Scoutmasters with greasy Italian hairs (like 10 left), it's often a good idea to wear a skull cap or bandana to sleep. It's the backpackers' antimacassar.

Jeffrey Wong
(kayak4water) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Great word on 04/03/2014 22:20:49 MDT Print View

@Erik +1 for "antimacassar"

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
woolite on 04/04/2014 07:02:43 MDT Print View

6:1 water:woolite mix, spray down, wipe away, repeat after each trip in foot/head area

10:1 water woolite mix, spray down whole bag, wipe away with a clean damp cloth after every trip.

Keep the shell clean and it will absorb the oil back out of the down slowly over time. Woolite is pretty safe to use on EVERYTHING, including vinyl and sil nylon. 10:1 should be used heavily, 6:1 for soiled spots.

I forgot to mention, 100% terry cotton or microfiber should be used. Don't use a rag made out of scratchy polyester or something that will abraid and scuff the smooth shiny DWR.

Edited by tchilds on 04/04/2014 07:28:08 MDT.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Oily skin and down bags on 04/04/2014 07:48:59 MDT Print View

Great question!

Switching to a quilt has helped keep my sleeping kit much cleaner, as most of my oils are from my head/face. This way I can frequently clean (after each short trip) my sleeping head garments (hood of Ibex indie or Houdini windshirt) and just wipe down the collar area of the quilt. This seems to keep the main body of the quilt cleaner than when I was using my WM sleeping bag for most trips. Also, I'm a stomach sleeper in most warmer conditions and this led to a lot of oils building up on the inside of the sleeping bag hood when using it like a pillow.

The woolite suggestion above sounds like a better approach than my current use of 'Wet-Ones' towlettes to remove the oils on the fabric surface before it migrates into the down. Generally I've washed my bags/quilt once per season.

Oh, but regarding your question about synthetics. A few years back I bought a few Pat. micro puff ball things, thinking that with my oil issues it would be more useful than down insulation because I could more easily wash it after each trip/use. I didn't realize the degree to which frequent washing would collapse its loft. So, back to down insulation I went and just accepted several long days at the laudromat each season as I wash jackets and occasional the bag and quilt.

Edited by kbuggie on 04/04/2014 07:54:19 MDT.

Kelly G
(KellyDT) - F
Oils on 04/05/2014 09:05:41 MDT Print View

It's important to clean-up and cover-up each night. As others have mentioned, wash away sweat, sunscreen and whatever, especially the head. I wear long-sleeve, full-leg silk pajamas. Clean socks. I recently acquired a food-service hair-net, to cover up my hair inside my down hood (or mummy bag hood, whichever you use). It's a thin, breathable material, not actually netting. I have used it just once and it works fine. It doesn't add warmth to the hood, like a beanie would.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Oily skin and down bags on 04/08/2014 11:39:15 MDT Print View

With oily skin, I make sure I'm sleeping in some sort of balaclava. A down hood (for my quilt) would be added over the balaclava. Much easier cleaning fleece than down.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Oily skin and down bags on 04/09/2014 20:41:54 MDT Print View

Agreed. Just do this.

When hiking where you only see 30 or 40* at night, carrying long johns may not be needed. Just wash up before getting into your bag. I carry a very lightweight older wash cloth and a pretty small drying cloth that with the carrying sack weigh just two ounces for everything. Consider that. Could also wear a lightweight beanie as well for even more coverage.