Dirt decreases insulating efficiency. You should spot-clean soiled areas, especially around the head of the bag. A removable, washable liner or an outer cover of breathable material can provide protection from dirt and abrasion.
Both down and polyester bags can be handwashed with any mild soap or with one of the excellent down soaps that are available. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap. Squeeze water out gently by hand, or put the bag carefully through the spin cycle of a front-loading washing machine (with no agitator).
Down or polyester bags also can be washed in a front-loading washing machine on the gentle cycle because it doesn't have an agitator. The agitator will blow out the baffles in a down bag, which must be babied when wet to prevent damage to the inner structure.
Hang bags to air dry; do not dry either polyester or down bags in a dryer. Allow more drying time for a down bag (several days), and shake and turn the bag frequently to break up lumps of wet down. Both polyester and down bags can be put in a dryer after they have been line dried; use the fluff setting (air only—no heat), to fluff up the bag. A clean tennis shoe put in with the down bag may help break up any clumps of down.
A polyester or down bag can be dry-cleaned, but only by a professional who knows how to handle the material and only if it is thoroughly aired afterward to remove all traces of toxic fumes, which can cause illness or death. For best results, do what the manufacturer says.
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