A warm, clean sleeping bag can tip the scales between restfully sleeping the night away or lying wide awake at camp. Mold smell in your sleeping bag is the result of mold and mildew spores present on the fabric. If your sleeping bag has gotten wet and not dried thoroughly, the tiny fungus grows quickly, leaving an unpleasant smell. The size and weight of sleeping bags make it difficult for them to be machine-washed. But camping with a moldy-smelling sleeping bag isn't healthy, either. You can get rid of mold odor and spores on your sleeping bag without a washing machine.
Things You'll Need
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cotton balls
Unzip your sleeping bag to allow air to circulate inside and deodorize the fabric. Lay your sleeping bag in a sunny location for three to five hours to kill mildew spores still living on the fibers.
Mix 1/4 cup each of table salt and lemon juice to create a paste. Spread the lemon and salt paste on mildew stains and allow the paste to dry in the sun.
Brush the lemon paste off with a dry cloth. Wet an old toothbrush and place two or three drops of laundry detergent on the brush. Scrub remaining mold stains to remove them.
Rinse the sleeping bag fabric by blotting it with a damp cloth. Let the sleeping bag dry completely.
Moisten two cotton balls with one to two drops of vanilla extract each. Place one cotton ball inside the foot of the sleeping bag and the other one inside the center area. Leave the cotton balls inside the sleeping bag for a minimum of three hours to deodorize any remaining mold smell.
Spritz mold stains with full-strength white vinegar to kill the mold spores and deodorize the fabric. Substitute sponging the sleeping bag with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for spot-cleaning it with laundry detergent. Sprinkle baking soda over the sleeping bag and leave it on the surface for eight hours to absorb mold odor.
- University of Missouri Extension; How to Prevent and Remove Mildew -- Home Methods; Wanda Eubank, et al.; April 1998
- University of Illinois Extension; How to Remove Mold and Mildew; Barbara Dahl
- "Good Housekeeping"; Stain Busters -- Mildew
- "Reader's Digest": Mildew Cleaning Solutions
- REI: Caring for Your Sleeping Bag
- University of Kentucky; Odors: What's That Smell?; Linda R. Adler; January 1997