What is the best way to clean sleeping bags?
August 17, 2012 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I forgot to remove my sleeping bags from the attic when the exterminator fired off a bug bomb to deal with our scorpion incursion. Now the bags are coated in fine white dust, and I'm terrified to use them. How can I safely clean them without ruining them? (For that matter, is the dust that big of a deal? Can I simply wipe it off and get on with life?)
posted by jackypaper to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call the exterminator. They'll know exactly what was used and have the appropriate safety sheets for it.
posted by Etrigan at 11:16 AM on August 17, 2012 [12 favorites]

Probably you can get it dry-cleaned.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:25 AM on August 17, 2012

If they are down bags, you can wash them in a washing machine on the delicate/cold cycle, using powdered laundry detergent or a special down detergent from a store like REI. You can dry them in the dryer on low. After they've been in there a while, add a couple of tennis balls to un-clump the down. Another alternative is to air-dry them and then do a few minutes in the dryer with tennis balls at the end.

Dry cleaning isn't good for down bags, strips the oils from the down.

Synthetic bags can pretty much go right in the washer and dryer (low temp).
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2012

If they're synthetic fill bags, you can probably wash them at the laundromat in a large machine, and then dry on low. The bags may still have their care tags attached which would give you the specifics for how to handle it.
posted by LionIndex at 11:36 AM on August 17, 2012

If they are down bags, I would have then professionally laundered. That would remove/dilute any residual stuff on those bags.

Were the bags rolled up, or spread out for use? If they were covered and rolled up, I might just wet-wipe whatever surfaces were exposed, and call it good.
posted by Danf at 11:36 AM on August 17, 2012

Make sure you're washing them in a front-load dryer - the agitator in a top-load won't do you any favors.
posted by LionIndex at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Front-load washer, obviously.
posted by LionIndex at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2012

Be careful when you dry them in a machine. I have seen the nylon or rayon or whatever it is melt.
posted by at the crossroads at 1:15 PM on August 17, 2012

First, call the exterminator and ask what they used, plus if they would recomend tossing the sleeping bags versus cleaning them --- the killing agent used, plus however much time the bags have had to sit in the heat of the attic with that agent 'cooking' into them, might make this a throw-them-out scenario.

If you do keep them, I wouldn't stick them in a home washer or dryer; try a heavier-duty machine at a laundromat, plus the tennis balls in the dryer trick to fluff them back up (by the way, do NOT use fabric softener).
posted by easily confused at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2012

This question is impossible to answer without knowing what was in the bug bomb for obvious reasons. If you update the thread with news from the exterminator we can figure stuff out with you.

In the meantime,


You do not know what this is or what might be dangerous about it. We can help you figure out what to do once you know.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:23 PM on August 18, 2012

Shake them out and give them a good wash and get on with it.
If your freshly washed sleeping bags kill you, God Bless Your Soul.
posted by at the crossroads at 1:03 AM on August 20, 2012

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