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How to store your sleeping bag after your epic camping trip

A good sleeping bag ranks right up there with firewood and beef jerky as a camping essential, but let's face the facts: It won’t come cheap.

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A quality down or Primaloft bag at regular price rings up in the triple digits, so make sure your investment in it doesn’t end when you snip the price tag off.

sleeping bag
Take care of your sleeping bag and it’ll become one of your best investments. Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

Taking care of a sleeping bag is easy and well worth the extra 20 minutes — but you have to do it right to make the bag last. Use a bag liner, sleep in clean clothes so you don’t dirty the bag and always let your bag air out for 24 hours after it’s been in a stuff sack. Beyond that, here’s our advice for giving your sleep sack a little extra love.

Spot clean your bag

Throwing your sleeping bag in the wash might seem like the most logical way to keep it clean, but every wash breaks down the loft (that fluffy filling that keeps you warm) a little more.

If the bag smells like socks and is turning a different color, then please, give it a bath by dunking it in the bathtub or taking it to the Laundromat so you can use those huge front-loading washers. (Agitators found in most home washing machines will damage your bag.) Otherwise, spot cleaning with a little laundry detergent, water and a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works) should do the trick.

Let it dry

A stiff breeze on Everest is one way to dry it. Photo: Martin Jernberg/Unsplash
Unless you know what you’re doing in the laundry room, it’s safest to air dry your sleeping bag. But if you’ve got a handle on what you’re doing in there, a low- or no-heat tumble session will dry your bag. Throw a tennis ball in the dryer to break up clumping insulation.

Put it away the right way

Never, ever, ever leave your sleeping bag in your stuff sack. (Repeat this to yourself a few times. Ready? Go.) Doing this will just damage all that fluffy filling that keeps you warm — or, in other words, cause the bag to lose its loft.

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After you spot clean and air dry your bag, hang it in a closet using a soft hanger, spread the bag out under your bed or in an extra room that’s kept at the same temperature and dryness as the rest of your house or store it loosely in a big cotton storage sack — a king-sized pillowcase will do as a last resort.

Check on it occasionally and use it every weekend. (That last part’s not required, but we certainly recommend it.) Happy camping!