Sleeping Bag Liner Washing Guide: How to Wash Liners of Different Materials
No sleep system is complete without a quality sleeping bag liner. These removable inserts provide an extra layer of insulation, warmth, and comfort while extending the life of your sleeping bag by protecting it from accumulating dirt, bacteria, and everyday wear and tear. But when the time comes to maintain your sleep system, how often should you wash your liner, and how does the process differ depending on the type of liner that you have? Let's find out.
Why Should you Wash Your Sleeping Bag Liner?
Sleeping bag liners are a lot like socks. They provide an extra layer of insulation, helping keep you warm on cold nights, but they also help to keep your sleeping bag clean and hygienic by absorbing sweat, oils, and other contaminants that can build up over time.
So just like you wouldn't set out on a long hike with a dirty pair of socks, you certainly want to avoid embarking on a camping or backpacking expedition with all the dirt and bacteria from your last adventure.
How Often Should you Wash a Removable Sleeping Bag Liner?
While it's a good idea to wash your sleeping back at least once a year, it's a different story with removable liners. Since the fabric of liners often comes in direct contact with your body, it can become a sponge for sweat, oil, and dead skin cells. So to keep your liner clean and bacteria-free, it's a good practice to wash it after every trip.
How to Wash Different Liner Materials
So, You've returned from your wilderness adventure, and now it's time to wash your removable sleeping bag liner. This is an essential maintenance step that will vary in complexity depending on the material that your liner is made out of. If you have a cotton or nylon model, washing is fairly simple. However, if your liner is made from silk or fleece, there are a few extra steps to follow regarding detergents and drying methods.
How to Wash a Cotton Sleeping Bag Liner
Cotton is the easiest sleeping bag liner material to clean because you can generally wash it either by hand or machine wash it without worrying about damaging the integrity of the fabric.
If you choose to machine wash your cotton liner, there still are some practical steps to take to prolong its life. First, check the label on your sleeping bag liner to see if the manufacturer has provided specific washing instructions. For example, if your liner is a cotton blend, you might find a "hand-wash only" warning. However, if the label says it's safe to machine wash your liner, you can follow the following steps.
First, remove your liner from your sleeping bag and separate it from any other pieces of gear that you need to wash. Washing the liner on its own helps to avoid dye transfers and fabric snags caused by buttons or zippers on clothing. Before you throw your bag liner into the washing machine, turn it inside out and give it a good shake to get any loose dirt, pebbles, or foliage out. Next, toss it into the machine, add a cotton-safe liquid detergent, select a low-heat wash setting, and start the cycle.
After your sleeping bag liner is finished washing, check the label one more time for drying instructions. Some models allow for machine drying, while others do not. If the manufacturer of your liner approves machine drying, opt for a tumble dry or a delicate setting, as heat can cause the fabric to shrink. On the other hand, if you choose to air-dry your liner, you can lay it out in your driveway or lawn on a sunny day for the shortest drying times.
How to Wash a Silk Sleeping Bag Liner
Thanks to its soft texture, compatibility, and lightweight nature, silk is one of the most popular materials used in sleeping bag liners. However, silk has one significant drawback compared with other materials; it is very delicate. Heat, abrasion, excessive moisture, and alkalis found in certain soaps can all affect the integrity of the natural protein fibers. So great care is needed when the time comes to wash a silk liner.
The most effective way to clean this type of sleeping bag liner is by hand. Start by finding a container you can use as a wash basin. Bathtubs work great, but you can also use a large tote or storage bin if you don't have one in your home. Next, add some silk-specific detergent to your water and give it a good stir to ensure it is fully dissolved.
Now that you've prepared your cleaning solution, turn your sleeping bag liner inside out and gently wash it in the water to remove dirt. Afterward, let it soak in the mixture for a maximum of five minutes. Any longer and your liner could start to lose its shape.
Next, remove your liner, drain your detergent solution, and refill your wash basin with clean cold water and a little white vinegar ( ¼ cup per gallon). Again, lightly wash your liner in this mixture to ensure all residual detergent has been washed away.
Once this process is complete, you can rinse the sleeping bag liner with fresh cold water and lightly roll and squeeze the fabric to expel excess water. It is very important to avoid twisting or wringing your liner, as this can damage the material.
Finally, you can set your silk liner out to dry. While hanging a liner on a clothesline is tempting, it's best to lay it out on a clean, flat surface to avoid stretching out the silk fibers.
Though washing a silk sleeping bag liner can be tedious, it's worth the effort knowing you can crawl into your sleeping bag free of dirt and bacteria on your next expedition.
How to Wash a Nylon Sleeping Bag Liner
Nylon is another popular choice for sleeping bag liners because it is weather-resistant and dries quickly, making it ideal for rainy or snowy environments. Nylon liners are also lightweight and compact, making them easy to pack and carry on backpacking trips.
To properly wash a nylon liner, it is best to use mild detergent and cold water. Avoid using hot water or harsh chemicals like bleach, as these can cause the nylon material to deteriorate and become less effective at retaining heat and resisting moisture. Just like with silk, It is also a good idea to avoid wringing or twisting the liner, as this can cause unnecessary wear and tear. Instead, gently squeeze the excess water from the liner and place it in the sun to dry.
How to Wash a Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner
There's nothing quite like the feel of going to sleep in a soft fleece sleeping bag liner. However, without proper washing techniques, your liner can lose its soft fuzziness in as little as one wash. So what's the proper way to wash a fleece liner?
Well, two main things can cause damage to fleece. The first is heat. Since it's a synthetic material, fleece can melt when exposed to direct heat. So if you choose to machine wash your fleece sleeping bag liner, always do so on a cold or low-heat setting, and always air dry.
Surprisingly the second way to ruin a soft fleece sleeping bag liner is fabric softener. Without knowing better many campers and backpackers have washed their fleece blankets and bag liners with fabric softener, only to find that the once velvety smooth fabric is now clumpy or even sticky. These products coat a fabric's surface with electrically charged chemical compounds that cause individual fibers to stand on end, giving the garment a soft or fluffy texture. However, fabric softeners are designed with natural fibers like cotton in mind. Since fleece is synthetic, the opposite effect can occur, leaving your sleeping bag liner with a waxy texture and an inability to wick away moisture.
Need New Sleeping Gear for Your Next Adventure?
Knowing how to wash and maintain your removable liner properly is an excellent way to extend the life of your sleep system and ensure that you are as cozy as possible when enjoying the great outdoors. If you are in need of a new removable sleeping bag liner or another piece of gear to complete your sleep system, check out our full line of products here.