How to Deodorize a Sleeping Bag: Simple Steps and Tips

How to Deodorize a Sleeping Bag? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Sleeping bags can get smelly over time, especially if they’re not properly cared for. But don’t despair, there are a few simple things you can do to deodorize your sleeping bag and get it smelling fresh again.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to deodorize a sleeping bag, both synthetic and down-filled. We’ll also provide some tips on how to prevent your sleeping bag from getting smelly in the first place.

Why is it important to deodorize your sleeping bag?

There are a few reasons why it’s important to deodorize your sleeping bag:

  • Hygiene: A sleeping bag can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms, which can lead to body odor and even illness. Deodorizing your sleeping bag helps to kill these microorganisms and keep your sleeping bag clean.
  • Comfort: A smelly sleeping bag can be unpleasant to sleep in. Deodorizing your sleeping bag will make it more comfortable to use.
  • Durability: Deodorizing your sleeping bag can help to extend its lifespan. By removing dirt, sweat, and other contaminants, you can help to prevent your sleeping bag from breaking down.
How to deodorize a sleeping bags
How to deodorize a sleeping bags

How often should you deodorize your sleeping bag?

How often you need to deodorize your sleeping bag will depend on how often you use it and how dirty it gets. If you use your sleeping bag frequently, you may need to deodorize it every few weeks. If you only use your sleeping bag occasionally, you may be able to get away with deodorizing it once or twice a year.

Before you start

Before you deodorize your sleeping bag, it’s important to check the care instructions. Some sleeping bags can be machine-washed, while others need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned. It’s also important to note that some deodorizing methods may not be suitable for all types of sleeping bags.

Deodorizing a synthetic sleeping bag

Synthetic sleeping bags are generally easier to deodorize than down sleeping bags. You can machine-wash your synthetic sleeping bag on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Be sure to add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help remove any lingering odors.

Deodorizing a down sleeping bag

Down sleeping bags are more delicate than synthetic sleeping bags, so you need to be careful when deodorizing them. You can hand-wash your down sleeping bag in a large tub of cold water with a down cleaner. Be sure to rinse the sleeping bag thoroughly to remove all of the soap.

What are the different ways to deodorize your sleeping bag? Methods for Deodorizing a Sleeping Bag

There are a few different ways to deodorize your sleeping bag. You can wash it in the machine, soak it in an odor eliminator, or spot clean it.

Method 1: Wash your sleeping bag

To wash your sleeping bag in the machine, follow these steps:

  1. Check the care label on your sleeping bag to see what type of cleaner and wash cycle to use.
  2. Wash your sleeping bag on a delicate cycle with cold water.
  3. Add a mild detergent or sleeping bag cleaner to the wash.
  4. Run an extra rinse cycle to remove any residual detergent.

Method 2: Soak your sleeping bag in an odor eliminator

To soak your sleeping bag in an odor eliminator, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bathtub with just enough cool water to submerge your sleeping bag.
  2. Add a few capfuls of an odor eliminator to the water.
  3. Stir to mix.
  4. Unzip your sleeping bag and submerge it in the water.
  5. Let the sleeping bag soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Remove the sleeping bag from the water and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Method 3: Spot clean your sleeping bag

If your sleeping bag only has a few smelly areas, you can spot clean them. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the smelly areas with the vinegar solution.
  3. Let the vinegar solution sit on the fabric for 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe away the vinegar solution with a clean cloth.
  5. Rinse the area with clean water.

Some additional tips for deodorizing your sleeping bag:

  • Use a baking soda paste. Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste. Apply the paste to any particularly smelly areas of the sleeping bag and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, rinse the paste off with clean water.
  • Use a commercial odor eliminator. There are a number of commercial odor eliminators available that are specifically designed for use on sleeping bags. Follow the instructions on the product label to use the odor eliminator effectively.
  • Freeze your sleeping bag. If your sleeping bag has a particularly strong smell, you can try freezing it. This will kill any bacteria that may be causing the smell. Simply place the sleeping bag in a large freezer bag and put it in the freezer for overnight.

Drying Sleeping Bags

Once you have deodorized your sleeping bag, you need to dry it completely. If you washed your sleeping bag in a machine, you can put it in the dryer on a low heat setting. If you soaked your sleeping bag in an odor eliminator or spot cleaned it, you can hang it to dry in a well-ventilated area.

how to clean sleeping bag

Tips for Preventing Odors

  • Air out your sleeping bag after each use: This will help to prevent moisture and bacteria from building up.
  • Store your sleeping bag in a dry, well-ventilated area: Do not store your sleeping bag in a plastic bag, as this can trap moisture and promote mold growth.
  • Wash your sleeping bag regularly: This will help to remove any dirt, sweat, or other substances that could be causing odors.

Final Thought

How to deodorize a sleeping bag? Keeping your sleeping bag fresh and odor-free is crucial for both your comfort and the durability of your equipment, so let’s sum it up. Even after several outdoor experiences, your sleeping bag may still be a comfortable and welcoming place to rest your head with a few straightforward measures and routine care.

By following the instructions in this manual, you’ll be able to enjoy your sleeping bag without any foul odors interfering with your outdoor adventures. The fact that you’ll increase the lifespan of your equipment and make sure it’s always prepared for your next journey is equally significant.


Why do sleeping bags smell?

Sleeping bags can develop odors over time due to a combination of factors, including sweat, body oils, dirt, and bacteria that accumulate from use. These elements create an environment conducive to odor development, especially in the warm and humid conditions of a sleeping bag. Proper cleaning and maintenance can help mitigate these odors.

Can you put a sleeping bag in the washing machine?

Yes, you can typically put a sleeping bag in a washing machine. However, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s care instructions on the sleeping bag’s label to ensure it’s machine-washable. Use a front-loading machine without an agitator, use a gentle cycle, and cold water. To maintain the bag’s loft and insulation, consider using a specialized down or synthetic sleeping bag cleaner.

After washing, thoroughly rinse and dry the bag, preferably using a large commercial dryer or a low-heat setting to prevent damage and clumping of insulation. Always follow the specific care guidelines for your sleeping bag to ensure its longevity and performance.

Does baking soda make smells go away?

Yes, baking soda can help eliminate or reduce odors. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb and neutralize various smells, making it a handy natural deodorizer for items like shoes, carpets, and even fabrics. When used correctly, it can be effective in reducing unwanted odors.

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David Stone
David Stone

I'm David Stone - world traveler and award winning travel writer and photographer. I can help you plan any trip, anywhere, for any amount of time...without the frustration of a bad itinerary.

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