When you’re on a camping, fishing, or hiking trip, it's always good to have an inflatable sleeping pad. It's a great addition to a sleeping bag for extra comfort and better rest. However, your sleeping pad will get dirty and moist after a few nights outside, so you must clean it before you store it for the next season. Stay with us as we tell you how to do that, and how to store your sleeping pad properly.
Intro to Sleeping Pads
There are many brands of sleeping pads but only two different types. One is the standard foam or sponge sleeping mat and the other the self-inflating sleeping pad. The first type is easier to take care of because you just have to roll it up when you're done. You can clean it with warm water or a solution of mild detergent. However, this type is bulkier.
Self-inflating sleeping pads reduce the bulk but are a bit more complicated to clean. They are made from a compressible insulating filling on the inside and a durable airtight shell on the outside. Some of them have only one valve and others have multiple. You have to deflate them properly before storing.
Since you sleep on a thick layer of air-filled material, self-inflating sleeping pads offer the same comfort and insulation or more. Both types of sleeping pads are designed to keep you warm during cold nights in the wild, but taking care of them is entirely different.
Clean Your Sleeping Pad Regularly
Even though you probably don't use your sleeping pad all the time, it still needs proper cleaning when you come back from a camping trip. It comes in contact with the ground, which is full of microbes, dust, and who knows what else. The bottom side will get especially dirty, but the side you lie on will also absorb moisture and sweat. If not cleaned, that can lead to the formation of mold and odors that will be hard to get rid of later.
Cleaning a sleeping pad doesn't require too much effort or any special chemicals. You can clean spots and stains with a sponge or cloth. A soft brush will also do the job. Instead of chemicals, you can use warm water. If using a sponge, don’t use the coarse surface because it could damage certain sleeping pads. But if it's a plastic sleeping pad, you can use a brush or any kind of sponge without problems.
If you run into a stain that doesn't want to come off with warm water, use some detergent to clean it. Vinegar and other homemade cleaning solutions will leave a smell that might not go away for years. When you're done with the scrubbing, you need to dry off the pad. However, don't leave it out in the sun and don't try using a hairdryer because it could get damaged.
When it’s finally dry, roll it up and make sure to leave the valve open so any remaining air and moisture can evaporate. Do not store it in a box or a plastic container. Place it in the bag that comes with the pad. If you don't have one, use a rubber band or some rope to tie it up. Put it behind the door of your wardrobe or bedroom. Just make sure that the storage area is dry.
Tips for Using a Self-inflating Pad
You can save a lot of time when it comes to cleaning your self-inflating pad by setting it up right when you go camping. There are a few basic rules you should stick by to minimize the chances of damaging the pad or getting it too dirty. Of course, if it's raining or if the ground is muddy, you won't be able to escape a thorough cleanup when you get home. Here are some tips that will help you on your next trip.
- Inspect the area first
By that, we mean that you should check the ground for sharp rocks, stones, fresh grass, seeds of all kinds, mud, and other stuff that could damage your sleeping pad. Place it on the ground when you're sure that it's safe.
- Give it a thorough dusting before packing it up again
Even if you’re that the area is clear, your sleeping pad will get some grass and dirt on it. That's why you should use a cloth or something else to remove anything that stuck to it. If a small rock stays on the pad, it could puncture it when you roll it up. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
- Carry a repair kit just in case
If something goes wrong and your self-inflating sleeping pad gets damaged or punctured before the end of the trip, you’re in for a rough time. That's why it's always a good idea to carry a repair kit. Use it to patch up any leaks and be able to sleep on a comfortable pad throughout your entire trip.
Cleaning is Caring
You can use the same self-inflating sleeping pad for many years if you take good care of it. Be careful not to put it on something that could damage it and make sure you clean it every time you get back from a trip. Some warm water and a sponge should be enough, but you can add a mild detergent to get those stubborn grease spots off. Take care of your sleeping pad, and it will take care of you.