Can You Wash An Army Sleeping Bag In The Washing Machine?

Yes, you can wash an army sleeping bag in a washing machine. In this article, you will learn more about how to do this properly without damaging your sleeping bag.

Also, there are different types of washing machines, and not all of them are recommended for washing your army sleeping bag. You will also learn in this article tips on how to accomplish a great washing experience. Read on. 

What Are Army Sleeping Bags?

It’s important to understand what an army sleeping bag looks like, the material, and how tough they are. This will help you understand how best to wash them using washing machines. 

They’re also called Modular Sleeping Systems (MSS). They can be a combination of components designed to help a soldier stay out in the field under a wide range of conditions. Most contain four elements—two sleeping bags, a bivvy bag, and a stuff sack. 

You don’t have to be a soldier to use an army sleeping bag. If you love the outdoors and you hike long distances, you’d likely need to sleep in the open.

One of the components of this MSS is enough for your needs. Most army bags are built differently from commercial or ordinary sleeping bags.

The degree of thickness varies from one brand to the other, but generally, expect some weight when trying to machine wash an army bag. 

How To Clean Your Army Bag With A Washing Machine

Your army sleeping bag is thicker than normal especially if you live in colder regions. This means you won’t be washing the bag using the method you wash other bags with. The task of washing any sleeping bag requires some forethought and preparation. 

What You Need

The following things are needed to wash your army bag properly. 

  • Dryer balls 
  • Mild laundry soap
  • An industrial washer and dryer

Now that you are set. You should follow these steps to get an effective wash. 

Follow the Instructions on The Tag

Your sleeping bag comes with a tag that tells you how to care for it. If you find a tag on the bag, it will tell you what temperature to wash with, the type of soap to use, and how to dry the army bag.

It is important to follow the instructions on this tag and ignore other suggestions outside of it. This is because the instructions are from the manufacturer and they know best how to care for the product. 

Use a Laundromat or Industrial Washer

This is very important because army sleeping bags are usually bigger than other commercial sleeping bags. They are also thicker. For this reason, you need a laundromat because those are bigger machines than the ones we use at home. Alternatively, use a front-loader machine if you have that at home. 

Prepare a Cold Wash

You should wash the sleeping bag using a cold cycle. Army sleeping bags are built to last a lifetime so using a cold wash preserves the integrity of the fabric. Moreover, using a cold wash also protects the fabric from shrinking after washing. 

Use a Mild Soap

If you check the tag on the army bag you’ll find the instruction that says you should use a mild soap too. Using a molded soap is a consideration you give to your skin since you’ll be sleeping in the bag.

You don’t want to use a strong detergent that leaves a residue that may irritate your skin. Besides, mild soap is better for the outer fabric of the sleeping bag, which is usually lighter.

Examples of mild detergents to use are Dawn, Joy, Ecover, and Hashimoto. 

Use the Dryer and Dryer Balls

When you are satisfied with the wash, take the bag out and put it in the dryer along with the dryer balls. Alternatively, you can use tennis balls if you don’t have dryer balls. The dryer balls help the bag move around in the dryer, allowing it to completely dry.

Option: Hang the Bag to Dry

If you wish, you can remove the bag from the dryer and complete the drying process by hanging the army bag out on the line.

This is an option you can pursue if you are not in a rush and desire the natural effect of the sun on your sleeping bag.

Note that if you choose to dry the bag on the clothesline, it may take longer to dry. The downside of using this method is that an improperly dried sleeping bag risks the growth of mold. 

Further Tips for Washing Army Bag

If you have an army sleeping bag that comes with all four or three components, do not try to stuff the whole bunch in a single wash. It is best to do a separate wash for each component one after the other.

Once again, check the tag which will tell you how to handle the wash of each bag component. 

Can You Use a Top Loader to Wash Your Army Sleeping Bag? 

No, you should not. 

Some feel when the tag specifically says to use a front loader machine to wash the bag, it is only an outdated instruction. This is not true. 

Top loader washing machines usually have less space and are usually smaller than front loader machines or laundromats. You need all the space you can get for the bag to roll. 

How Long Does the Army Sleeping Bag Last?

Sleeping bags have a certain amount of washes in them because some fabrics have gortex skin. For this reason, you should avoid washing the bag constantly.

Wash it only when you need to expel unpleasant smells from it. On the other hand, not washing it when due can cause the bag to develop mold or mildew. 

If the bag you purchased is a fairly used one, definitely wash it before use. Another factor is the frequency of use. If, for example, you use the bag just twice a year on summer trips, then you may wash it only once or twice. 


Army sleeping bags do not only protect soldiers. They are a favorite of many outdoor folks. They are tougher than conventional sleeping bags; they are more durable as well.

They also come with more capacity to keep the user warm than most other sleeping bags. They can be more expensive, though. It is important to be sure about the car in your sleeping bag.

Remember not to do anything outside the recommendation on the tag. You won’t tire of caring for your army sleeping bag if you buy one that’s not too heavy, has a moderate temperature rating, and has a great design. 

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