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Successfully washed sleeping bag!

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Successfully washed sleeping bag!

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:52 pm

I had never washed my WM Super Atelope bag in over 5 years. I had washed other down bags in the past but as expensive as WM bags are, I was hesitant. Well, the thing just go so stinky that I had to bite the bullet and wash it. I chose the bathtub washing vs machine but I used the wash machine to spin out most of the water. First I filled the tub with tepid water, put in 1/3 bottle of Nixwax Down Wash (about 3 oz) then put in the bag. It was a battle between the air that would not get out of the baffles and me trying to push it all under water. The air won. I never did get that air out, but the down settled underwater and after much hand kneeding, I got it clean. I then drained the tub, and turned on the shower (cold water) and let it run a few minutes. Then it was a huge chore to gently squeeze out the water. Then I filled the tub again with tepid water with another 1/3 bottle of Down Wash and repeated. Second rinse. Third rinse. When I though all suds and dirt were out, I let it drain in the tub several hours. Now I had to get it from the tub to the washing machine down the hall. I put a big towel in a wagon that I had for the grandkids. I gently scooted the bag into the wagon. I have a front loading washing machine. I wheeled the wagon up to the door and gently pushed the bag into the washer. Then I began a process of spin-only cycles. First 3 were on "gentle", next 3 on "low spin" and last three on "medium" spin. By that time a the bag actually felt dry although the down was still clumped. Then transfer to the dryer where I did numerous 10-minute cycle on air-dry/delicate setting. By that time it was night so I pulled it out and set it on the couch. In the morning I repeated the drying (about 5 cycles). It is now nice and fluffy, but the down at the head is still slightly damp. If it does not air-dry I will have to try the dryer again. Right now there are no clumps left, the loft is fantastic, and it smells great. It does not appear that I broke any inner baffels.

What I learned- a down bag is not that easy to get totally soaked. I now will worry less about a little bit of moisture on the outside. BUT, once the down is soaked, there is NO WAY you are going to dry it out in the field. So do not fall in a river with your bag!

The test now is to see if the down, after a washing, holds its loft as much as it did when original. Only time will tell. In another 5 years I may have to wash it again.



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Re: Successfully washed sleeping bag!

Postby freestone » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:08 pm

WM says to stuff the bag in the stuff sack it comes with, then put it in the bath tub to soak. This method gets the air out of the bag before wetting.
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Re: Successfully washed sleeping bag!

Postby sparky » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:32 pm

I am too scared to dry mine...i just do it on sunny warm day to airdry after hand washing in the tub. Full day in the southern california summer sun dries it. I have done it twi e on two seperate bags and mine is overdue for another. It very dirty and stinky and offensive to my girlfriend haha i say it keeps the bears away
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Re: Successfully washed sleeping bag!

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:48 pm

Yes, stuffing it first occured to me about half-way through the process. I really had no idea how difficult it would be to get the air out. My old bags had simple rip-stop nylon covers, and it never seemed a problem. My WM bag is "dry loft". It is making me wonder if my bag is not breathable enough. Previously I used Woolite. The Down Wash is a lot better. Woolite makes too many suds and it is impossible to get them out.

I certainly understand reluctance to wash an expensive bag. Now that mine is older, I am less parinoid. If I were to wreck it, at least I have had lots of good use out of it. I am impressed that all through the washing process not one feather came out.
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Re: Successfully washed sleeping bag!

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:19 pm

I've washed my '91 REI 10 degree down bag about every 2 years, depending on how much sweat or bug juice is used each season. never had any qualms about putting it in the dryer at the lowest setting, and if the sun was out, using that as well. She just got smaller (or i got bigger :\ )

I use the tub, and only one cycle of soap, but two rinses. i let it drain, and roll it in the tub throughout the day to get the water out, before moving to the dryer.

Haven't tried it on my WM yet, as it's been used on mostly colder trips, hence less sweat.

Thanks for the tips, WD!
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