Thursday, October 29, 2015

Washing a Down or Feather Sleeping Bag, Comforter, Pillow or Feather Bed

I found some down sleeping bags at a second hand store for $4 each. In the past, I have paid up to $20 for used down sleeping bags. I snagged the entire lot of them when they came out except one or two that looked like they had seen better days. 
I gave a few to a woman who needed a few more out of my cart as I am always willing to "share the wealth" when it comes to good deals. I also got a few for my sisters family. I kept four or five for my kids. 

These are the newer wide base bags not the tighter claustrophobic mummy old school bags. We have many of those but they are so hard to move in that some of the girls don't like them for that reason. When I saw these fuller "mummy" bags, I was so excited. There were spots on all where they had been mended or "patched" with iron on patches but the ones I kept for myself were the ones in better shape. 

I have about 6 bags that I have purchased over the years that are more of the traditional "mummy" bags and I learned the hard way how to wash them. 

I was told that you needed to wash them in a tub. I went camping using my dad's expensive mummy bag and when I got back, it smelled very much like a fire so I threw the bag in the tub and tried to hand wash it. 

It was soooooo heavy and nightmarish to try and ring and dry that I figured I did more harm to the bag that just throwing it in the washing machine and much less back ache and work. 

Other times, I went to the laundry mat and threw them all in washers and the washers there were worse than mine and ran out of warm water. So, I figured I would just try washing them at home. I have done this now for 20 years and have had great results. 

As you can see by the picture at the top, the bag came out fluffy and clean. This is how it goes every time. I fill the washer tub with warm water on a medium water load setting as I only wash one at a time. Once the tub is full, I put some type of "oxy" cleaner in and some liquid detergent. DO NOT use powder!!! It will get stuck in the folds or leave a white chalky residue in places. I learned from experience on that one many years ago. 

Also, make sure you check out the bag for any rips or holes as you will end up with a washer full of feathers! Unzip the entire bag all the way. If you don't, the inside won't get washed. Even when I do this, there are sometimes dry spots as the bag gets twisted and not all parts get washed well. 

This bag I washed today had some iron on patches. This can be rough if you use hot water or a "hot" dryer as they can sometimes come loose. Other times, they just come loose with age or water. I suggest NOT using iron on patches for any type of blanket or sleeping bag as they can also irritate the skin when sleeping. Mend any holes prior to washing. 

When putting the bag into the water in the washer, make sure you put it in evenly around the agitator. If you don't, it will ball up and be uneven and will cause your washer to dance when in the spin cycle. This is another reason you unzip the entire bag so that you can put it in the washer evenly. 

I use the longest wash setting so it gets as clean as possible.When you take it out of the washer, inspect it again. One of the iron on patches came off while in the washer so I had to stitch it up before putting it in the dryer. If you don't, your dryer lint trap will fill with feathers causing it not to be able to "breathe" and it takes much longer to dry. You may also have to clean out the bottom of the washer collecting all the feathers. With looser weave fabric on some feather blankets, pillows or feather beds, you will have more feathers but the weave and thread count on these sleeping bags is quite good so I only had about five feathers in the washer after I removed it but there was that tiny hole as well. 

I stitched up the hole, (check out tomorrows post for how I did that) and then stuck it in the dryer. It will smell like a hen house full of wet chickens for a few hours until the item dries. It doesn't matter what feather item I have washed over the years, they all smell the same when wet. I have washed my share as every bed has feather pillows, blankets and mine has a feather bed and several down blankets. I am a feather freak. I LOVE sleeping on a could of feathers. Even my homemade sleeping bags for myself and all the girls are all down! They are the ones we take for inside sleepovers. 

When drying them, don't use the hottest setting as the outside of the bag can get very hot as it gets twisted up. I use medium heat as it tends to dry it fine without the really hot that makes the zipper burn you when you take it out. I also use a handful of dryer sheets as you can see in the picture below. This tends to make it smell better and ward off bugs when camping as dryer sheets have that effect anyway.

Make sure you clean the dryer vent before putting the item in the dryer as they take a long time to dry. A comforter usually takes 2 hours or more depending on if you pull it out every 20 minutes and unwind it as it can get twisted leaving wet spots. A sleeping bag is about three hours in the dryer. 

The good thing is that you don't have to wash them much. I have seen where people make sheets for the inside of their sleeping bags by sewing up a sheet into a bag and then inserting it into the sleeping bag so that you can just pull the sheet bag out of the sleeping bag and wash it each time saving you from having to wash the sleeping bag. It is a great idea but I just usually wash the sleeping bags every year or so. We only use them camping once or twice a year in the trailer so they don't get all that dirty. 

I was VERY happy with how the bag came out but I am always happy with anything feather that comes out of the dryer warm and fluffy. Two of my favorite things! Once again, before starting the dryer for the second run, make sure you clean out the filter or air vent screen. 

I forgot and with this item, it wasn't an issue as you can see after 2 hours, there was only one or two feathers and some lint. However, I have washed pillows or blankets that have shed LOTS of feathers and like I said earlier, it is due to the quality of the fabric used on the item or if you missed stitching a hole you can have LOTS of feathers in the dryer vent or clean-out.

I think the girls will be happy with the new sleeping bags! We'll just have to wait until next Easter to find out! 

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