The Camping Item You Can Actually Toss In The Washing Machine On Laundry Day

The great outdoors can bring so much joy to those who like spending time in nature, and camping is a great way to get your fill.

While sleeping under the stars is a great break from your normal routine, cleaning camping gear after a trip can be time-consuming at the least, and downright stressful at the most. If you struggle to keep your sleeping bags fresh after a big outdoor excursion, however, there is some good news for you. Sleeping bags fall into the category of things you didn't know you could wash in the washing machine. This makes the daunting task of caring for your portable bedding more manageable. There are exceptions, of course, but depending on the type of bag you have and your machine, this trick could work for you.

There are two factors to consider when deciding if your sleeping bag can be placed in the washing machine: the washing appliance you have and the bag's materials. First, the type of machine you own will determine if this process will work. A top loader without an agitator is acceptable, as well as a front-loading appliance. An agitator could tear or damage the shell or interior materials, or even affect the zipper so do not try to wash your bag if your machine has one. You also want to check for care instructions on the bag, whether these are on a tag or came with the sleeping bag when you purchased it. If there are instructions, follow these to ensure your materials last as long as possible. Some sleeping bags have been around so long the tag has long since fallen off. If you can't locate care instructions, consider what your bag is made of.

How to properly wash your sleeping bags

Most sleeping bags are made with either synthetic or down materials. If your sleeping bag is made with down, it's ideal to purchase a soap that is specifically made for this. Using regular detergent isn't recommended for any sleeping bags, but it can leave down clumpy or flat after a cycle. For synthetic materials, you should still stick with a soap-based cleaner rather than detergent, which could create a residue on the outside of the bag. Cleaners like Nikwax are made for outdoor items and can tidy them without creating damage.

Sleeping bags are best washed on a gentle cycle, and you can use either cold or warm water. Unzip the bag and remove any detritus that has collected. You don't need to add a lot of soap — the Nikwax website recommends 3.5-5 fluid ounces for outdoor gear to avoid too many suds building up. Placing a few towels or some articles of clothing will keep the washer stabilized, as large items can sometimes bunch up and affect the drum. After your cycle has finished, put the bag through a second rinse-only cycle to remove any excess soap. Don't use fabric softeners and bleach for your sleeping bag, and you want to use the lowest heat setting on your dryer. You can also lay the bag flat to dry it, just ensure it is completely moisture-free before storing it again.