Sep 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm #1294464
A family member just took my down bag and after using decided to machine wash it. The bag is a Denali 300gram duck down filled bag and since the machine washing episode the loft on it seems to be worse. It still feels warm somewhat when you hop inside but the bag has changed. How much warmth has it lost? I have no idea but am not really comfortable with the idea of finding out if it is wrecked on the side of a mountain.
So, does machine washing a down bag end it's life? Or has the temp rating just been re-altered and now it's a summer bag only?
Mik.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm #1915832
Most likely it wasn't dried properly and down is clumping together. I would rewash the bag in a commercial/agitatorless washing machine and then dry it with some tennis balls. Hope is not lost.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm #1915835
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
Rewash it in a front-loader only! Use down soap, not laundry detergent.
Dry on lowest heat setting in a big commercial dryer, not a home dryer. Plan on it taking hours. (I bring a book.)Sep 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm #1915836
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
What matters is the detergent, it can degrade the down. Really the only reason why manufactures tell you not to machine wash is because it can physically rip or tear the baffles, liner, or shell.
Consider yourself lucky you didn't have them borrow a nicer bag.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm #1915846
I'd try rinsing it and drying it very well.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm #1915851
I always thought the reason that manufacturers said not to wash a down bag had to do with the oils on the down, and the damage to down that remains wet. First, washing a bag removes the naturally occurring oils on down. This decreases the response from the down (it gets dried out) and doesn't loft. This decreases heat. Also, when down is wet and remains wet it molds/breaks down/rots. This also decreases loft/warmth. Are you aware of something new regarding this?Sep 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm #1915852
I think that an afternoon (and it will take time) at the commercial laundromat will bring it back. Use a big front-loader, some down soap and then toss a few clean tennis balls (put them in the washer if they're not) in for a nice, long, low heat drying session.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm #1915853
"then toss a few clean tennis balls (put them in the washer if they're not) in for a nice, long, low heat drying session"
While the above respondents all have good advice, they're all forgetting one thing – satisfaction.
The tennis balls are to help the down declump while drying. So instead of tennis balls, toss into the dryer the Wanker who washed your bag in the first place. This will help the down declump AND give you some satisfaction at the same time.Sep 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm #1915863
"I always thought the reason that manufacturers said not to wash a down bag had to do with the oils on the down, and the damage to down that remains wet. First, washing a bag removes the naturally occurring oils on down. This decreases the response from the down (it gets dried out) and doesn't loft. This decreases heat. Also, when down is wet and remains wet it molds/breaks down/rots. This also decreases loft/warmth. Are you aware of something new regarding this?"
Not sure where you have read this. No one ever said not to wash a down bag, you just need to wash/dry properly. The loft of down and it's benefits are not due to it's own natural oils. Oils if anything would inhibit loft.Sep 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm #1915866
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Re-wash and dry following the instructions on the Western Mountaineering website. I did that with my WM sleeping bag a year ago and the loft was better than it was when new. Note, though, it took most of a day, using my DIL's large capacity front-loading washer (with extra-delicate cycle) and dryer. If you have to go to a laundromat to use a front-loading machine, take "War and Peace" or a similar length book, plus your lunch! The drying part takes hours and hours.
Washing (properly) is actually the preferred method of cleaning a down bag. Dry cleaning removes the natural oils worse than does detergent.
Two possible sources of damage: (1) if the person used a top-loading washer with agitator, which could have damaged the baffles, (2) if the person used detergent, which would have removed oils from the down. You can probably feel if the baffles are damaged; you won't know how bad the down is until you have re-washed.
LOL, Doug, sounds like a great idea! :-)Sep 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm #1915869
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Nobody said to not wash a down bag, but when you do do not use regular detergent. Use down detergent obviously.
Detergent being the key word.
Original poster ask your friend what he she used.Sep 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm #1915889
Okay I have a starting spot now so thank you for your responses. The down inside does not feel clumpy it just seems to have lost loft. Best way to describe it is like someone took out half the fill and now the bag is thinner. The bag is clean so I won't re-wash it but will do the tennis ball and dryer drying thing…maybe the tennis balls will do their trick.
Thanks again. :)Sep 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm #1915897
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
>> The bag is clean so I won't re-wash it
Just be aware that any soaps/detergents that don't get completely rinsed out will affect the loft just as much as dirt and oils will. Most washing machines, on a normal cycle, don't rinse thoroughly but we don't tend to worry about it as long as our clothes are "clean". I wash all my down products myself but put it through a few extra rinse cycles until I can see that the rinse water is clear.Sep 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm #1915909
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I'd do a complete wash, with a specific soap for down, which will help restore the loft. First, though, put the bag through 2 or 3 rinses to get rid of the detergent residue. You could try just the rinses and then drying it, but the down soap will definitely help.
For my sleeping bag, I used ReviveX down cleaner and then sprayed the outer shell with ReviveX Spray-On Water Repellent (to renew the DWR finish) before putting my bag into the dryer. I couldn't find them locally so had to order from amazon.com.Sep 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm #1915913
I wonder if it got a dose of fabric softener too. [gnashing of teeth]Sep 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm #1915920
@cobbermanLocale: Northern Colorado
"I wonder if it got a dose of fabric softener too. [gnashing of teeth]"
Could have been an all in one soap/softener. Those kinds of cleaners are banned in my laundry room.Sep 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm #1915925
Just be aware that any soaps/detergents that don't get completely rinsed out will affect the loft just as much as dirt and oils will. Most washing machines, on a normal cycle, don't rinse thoroughly but we don't tend to worry about it as long as our clothes are "clean". I wash all my down products myself but put it through a few extra rinse cycles until I can see that the rinse water is clear.
Sumi, thanks for backing up my earlier comment. I wouldn't think that the bag would have more oils than before, so that shouldn't be the cause of lost loft. But as you said, the detergent could. That's why I recommended rinsing it again, and then drying it properly.
When I washed my -40°F, I had to rinse it roughly half a dozen times before the water was clear.Sep 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm #1915927
The hard part is that the borrower was trying to do the right thing. I've seen too many cases where the borrower trashed the borrowed item and had no compunction to repair or replace it, let alone a simple apology. [more teeth gnashing]Sep 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm #1915955
That's it Dale, I didn't give permission in fact told them they are not allowed to take it and they still did. It's frustrating as it was only used by myself once or twice and really liked the bag. One thing though that the person who washed it is awesome at washing clothes (no, really really good…got a pair of white jeans clean from playing mechanics!!) and the bag was returned really clean….just lost the loft.
Anyway it's going through it's second rinse cycle in clean water with no additives. I haven't got a dryer as such so will air dry under cover in a breeze. Would really love to dry it in a big industrial dryer with the tennis balls idea though.Sep 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm #1915959
Hopefully it works out. One thing to keep in mind while air drying is if it takes to long, it cold get mold or mildew or whatever happens when this stuff stays wet too long. Can you put fans on it? Even a dryer without heat will be good. That's how I dried my -40°F. It took a long time, but it really helps to have air forced through and tumbled about.Sep 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm #1916025
I would be seething if someone took gear when told not too, let alone the washing disaster. I would let them buy the sleeping bag at replacement value. My kids were headstrong as teenagers (still are!) and I had to keep my gear separate or things would "migrate" all too easily. I am amazed at the problems some have with boundaries.Sep 27, 2012 at 4:51 am #1916047
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
There are several possible problems with the bag causing loss of loft. Most have been mentioned already. To recap:
1) Physical damage to the shell
2) Lack of rinsing, leaving detergent or soap in the down
3) Physical damage to baffles from agitation and/or mishandling while wet
4) Incorrect or incomplete drying
I sort-of doubt that a detergent induced removal of embedded oils would be noticable as loss of loft immediatly. This would take some use/compression of the down to break the plumes. Usually the down dust will become noticable as "clumps" in the fill that are very difficult to break apart. Sometimes you may notice just a loss of loft on thicker bags. As you say, it may not meet it's temp rating.
Down is fairly resistant to heat up to boiling temps. Not so, the shell. If the shell is not damaged (zippers, pockets, and hood) this can be ignored. Use low or medium heat with frequent stops for hand shaking while drying. I use my home dryer for this, but, it is extra large capacity. Also several dryer balls. These are about the size of a tennis ball but have "porcupine quills" on them…three or four on my 0F bag, two for my 32F bags. Tennis balls are the standard, though. 4-6 of these work well.
I agree that any soap or detergent left in the bag will cause loss of loft. Try plain water on an extra wash cycle with extra rinse cycle. If the bag is over 5" thick, you may need to do this twice (6 rinses.)
Using down wash will not buy you anything. Adding soap to detergent is probably not a good idea, if there is *any* detergent left in it. If the damage by detergent has been done, there is no feasable way to restore the embedded oils to down. They are part of the structure and, if lost, cannot be replaced. The down will degrade over time, especially after the next use. But, it will be difficult to tell till it is used, or, compressed in a compression bag and shaken out. It just won't reloft. I believe that WM, perhaps others, will add more down if this is the case. Ater drying it thuroughly (as others have said, a longish process) you can return it to them for restuffing. This will add a few ounces, but, you can avoid buying a new bag. Perhaps the person responsible can help pay for it?
Down bags and stuff can certainly be washed OK. But, it takes a very mild soap. The embedded oils are washed out at EVERY washing to some degree. Even plain old water will wash out some. Body oils can stick to the embedded oils in down, also. Generally, anything that cleans body oils out of the down will also remove some of the embedded oils along with it. So, keeping the bag clean vs down degradation from body oils is a problem with down. Down wash is supposedly mild enough to remove this "loose" oil, without removing embedded oils. I often recommend about 1/4 to 1/3 as much down wash as what is recomended on the bottle, though…just enough to clean the bag, but, not enough to deep clean it. What is not cleaned will get washed next time…Sep 27, 2012 at 7:48 am #1916087
@sckuhnLocale: Mountainous Ohio
If you are really seeking a return of the original loft, you will NOT achieve this with air drying without EXCESSIVE handling, fluffing, you name it….. Find the largest dryer possible – friends large capacity, laundromat extra large capacity, local hotel's commercial dryer…. anything that will tumble it somewhat freely. Be sure to check the dryer first by hand for snags or rough spots and watch the temperature. Tennis balls in a home dryer add amazing loft to a bag.Sep 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm #1916174
Thank you everybody for some great advice!!
I ended up putting the bag through about 4 rinse cycles at home. I am going to take it to a laundromat for a dry cycle with the tennis balls…..and a book to wait with :). I'll keep you guys updated.Oct 2, 2012 at 3:05 am #1917444
Just an update.
After the 4 rinse cycles it's been drying outside under cover for days now. I haven't had the chance to take it somewhere to get it dried with tennis balls but I can tell you the loft is MUCH better already!! I tried to squish it down to get it in it's bag but the loft seemed much better and I had to wrestle with it a lot more than usual.
Thank you for the info guys!!
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