If your sleep system has become dirty, typically the insulation will have problems lofting and perform less effectively, as well as feeling and smelling worse. It’s time to clean your gear! Typically you need to clean your sleep system once a year or less. This varies from user to user depending on how often your item is used. The more you use it, the sooner you will have to clean your sleep system. The procedure can be time consuming to prevent damage to the insulation and fabric, so make sure you have a few hours set aside to finish the job (typically about 4 to 6 hours, depending on what you're washing). You can use these directions for both down and synthetic insulations with minor differences which we will mention along the way.
Disclaimer: Since Enlightened Equipment quilts are made using some of the lightest-weight fabrics available, special care is required during use and cleaning to prevent damage to both the fabrics and insulation. Failure to follow these precautions can cause irreparable damage to the quilt, loss of insulation, and will void the warranty.
- No washing machines: Using a washing machine, of any kind, will void the warranty of all Enlightened Equipment products.
- Drying: Use no heat when putting products in a dryer. Hot spots can melt the fabric and materials used.
- Detergents: Use only cleaning supplies that are specifically made for down (read labels to be sure they are down safe). Synthetic products may use standard detergent but as little as possible should be used. Check out our line of cleaning and care products.
- Wet Gear: Items get extremely heavy when wet, so don't pick up and move the sleep system until as much water has been kneaded out as possible. Picking a sleeping system up wet may put stress on the fabric and down and cause long term issues.
What You'll Need:
-Your sleep system.
-Bathtub or a large wash basin.
-2-3 tennis or dryer balls (these should be clean; if your dog chews on them, pick up some new ones).
-An appropriate detergent for down products or standard clothing detergent for synthetic quilts and accessories.
Now you’re ready to get started.
- Check for any cord locks and snaps and make sure they’re all well secured, with knots to keep the cord locks from falling off.
- Fill the tub or basin with the appropriate amount of water for the amount of detergent you will be using. Read the directions on the down wash to determine the correct amount of detergent to add to the water. Whether down wash or standard detergent for synthetics, try to use the least amount they recommend as it can be easy to overdo it and using too much makes it harder to rinse thoroughly.
- Put your sleep system in the water and begin pressing all the air out of the down. You may be surprised at how well your item floats; insulation is excellent at holding onto air, so pressing the air out allows the water and detergent to reach all parts of the insulation. Do this until the detergent and water has completely saturated the gear. Tip: Put the item in a stuff sack and slowly let out to help saturate with water.
- Drain the tub, and knead out as much water as you can. Do not wring, just press it out. Knead: To massage or squeeze with the hands
- Refill the tub with warm water to rinse the sleep system out. Knead the item as you did before, pressing out as much of the detergent as you can. Let it sit and soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain the tub again, and knead out as much water as you can once more.
- Repeat step 5 until the water is clear. If the water is still cloudy and the detergent hasn’t been fully rinsed out, you may need to refill the tub and rinse again.
- While pressing the water out after the final rinse, it’s important to get as much moisture out as you possibly can. Doing this poorly will result in extremely long drying times. Don't move the sleep system until as much water as possible has been kneaded out. While soaked, it's very heavy and moving it can stress the fabric and stitching. Tip: It is beneficial to press out all the water you can and then press the quilt between two dry towels to remove even more moisture.
- Move the sleep system into your dryer, and throw the tennis/dryer balls in with it. These will help break up the clumps of down to speed up the drying process. Set to no heat and begin drying. Drying time will vary. Typical dry times are around 2 - 4 hours, but could take longer. Tip: Stopping periodically and manually spreading some of the down out can help ensure it dries completely. If the down still smells gamey, it isn't completely dry.
- For Down Items: The washing process can result in down not being evenly distributed. When all is finished, lay the quilt flat and gently shift the down into any empty spots. Make sure to distribute the down as evenly as possible for best warmth. See our down distribution article for more info.
- Once completed make sure to get outside as quickly as possible and go on an adventure!
Now that your gear is clean, you will need to store it. Generally speaking, insulation should not be stored while compressed, so all EE sleep systems include a larger storage sack for storage at home. Where possible store your gear in a room with dry air and out of direct sunlight. Keep it out of reach of pets as they tend to be very interested in what's inside your gear.