The Easiest Way to Keep Your Kids’ (Super Gross) Sleeping Bags Clean

published Jun 30, 2022
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With sleepovers and campouts and friends who crash at your place for the night and need a place to sleep on the floor, there’s one thing that gets an awful lot of use in the summer months — and is probably so much dirtier than you realize — and that’s your kids’ sleeping bags. 

No, really, do you remember the last time you washed them? I can’t. I have a vague memory of not washing them after one camping trip because we were going on another in a week, so what was the point, right? But did I wash some of them after the Cub Scout camping trip my boys and husband went on? Did my daughter take hers to that sleepover? 

Part of the reason it’s so hard to keep track of whether you washed sleeping bags or not is because they’re so darn hard to wash. Not only is each one bulky and hard to unzip and stuff in the washer and then dry thoroughly and take out and re-zip and roll up and put away, but dealing with a whole pile of them after a family camping trip? It’s overwhelming. 

But it’s actually really gross not to wash them (and, no judgment! I’m saying this to myself too). Think about it: If they’re used on a camping trip even just one time, they’re full of all kinds of sweat and dirt from bodies that are not getting the showers or baths they’re used to getting at home, if they’re getting any washing at all! Moreover, anyone who’s ever camped knows how the smell of a fire clings to everything that was near it, not least of all that sleeping bag. Even if the sleeping bags aren’t used for camping, though, they need periodic washing, just like sheets. 

Here’s the easiest way to do it, a trick I learned from a beloved friend who camps with her family of six regularly: Take the sleeping bags to the laundromat. 

Taking your family’s whole set of sleeping bags to the laundromat is genius. Rather than an impossible mountain of sleeping bags to run through the washer and dryer, disrupting your regular laundry routine and/or taking days to get through, you get all of them done in a couple hours. This way, you don’t have to second-guess yourself; you’ll know they’re all clean! You can do this even if you haven’t all used them, of course. If it’s been “a while” since you’ve washed them, start fresh by washing and drying them all. 

Another really nice thing about washing and drying your sleeping bags at the laundromat is that the washers and dryers tend to be bigger than at-home ones. With more room to suds around instead of being squished in your residential-sized washing machine, your sleeping bags will get much more thoroughly cleaned. In addition, they’ll dry much faster, without any damp spots, in those nice big dryers. Lastly, zipping and rolling them is so much easier on those long folding tables laundromats have. Every part of keeping sleeping bags clean is easier at the laundromat. 

There’s nothing not great about washing your sleeping bags at the laundromat. After doing it once, it’ll become a regular part of your family’s summer gear maintenance.