Learn How to Clean, Maintain, and Store Your Backpacking Pillow

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When camping or exploring the outdoors, having a comfortable pillow to rest your head on is crucial. This is where camping and backpacking pillows come in handy.

However, if you don’t take care of your pillow, it can become dirty and smelly due to dirt and insect droppings. To prevent this, it’s important to clean your camping pillow before storing it after use. This will help prevent stains, odors, and increase its lifespan.

See the best backbackping pillows online

The easiest way to clean a camping pillow is to use a gentle cycle with cool water in the washing machine. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions before washing your pillow.

After cleaning, it’s important to store your pillow properly. The original storage bag is the best place, but following the manufacturer’s suggested storage method is also acceptable.

This article provides tips on how to clean, maintain, and store your camping pillow so that it’s ready for your next adventure. For better clarity, we will segregate it into 3 sections depending on the following pillow types:

  • Inflatable pillow
  • Self-inflating pillow
  • Non-inflatable pillow

Let’s get started!

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How to Clean, Maintain, and Store an Inflatable Backpacking Pillow

Inflatable backpacking pillows are the ideal choice for campers and backpackers who prioritize travelling light. They can be inflated to the desired level of support and deflated to a fraction of their original size, making them easy to pack in tight spaces.

These pillows can be squeezed into the top of your sleeping bag or any extra space in your pack, which makes them a great option for those who want to minimize the volume and weight of their gear.

Ultimately, if you’re planning a camping or backpacking trip and need to be mindful of space and weight, an inflatable backpacking pillow is an excellent option. Now, let’s learn how to clean, maintain, and store an inflatable backpacking pillow.


Right off the bat, it might sound absurd to clean an inflatable pillow. The filling is basically air, so there’s nothing to really clean. But, if you think harder, it’s more than that. Nevertheless, cleaning them is also quite simple.

In this section, we’ll provide you with a quick and easy-to-follow method for cleaning your inflatable backpacking pillow so that you can rest easy on your next adventure.

Materials required

  • Cleaning container
  • Soap
  • Brush

These are basic materials that are easily available for anyone to purchase.

Estimated cost

  • Cleaning container – $2 to $5
  • Soap – $1 to $5
  • Brush – $5 to $20

The total estimated cost of all materials: $8 to $30

Estimated time

The total time taken to clean an inflatable pillow can vary from 1 to 2 hours depending on a person’s speed.

Step-by-step cleaning guide

Step 1: Deflate the pillow

The first step requires draining all the air from the pillow and placing it flat on a surface. You need to remove the airbag and active mesh component from the block.

Step 2: Wipe down the surface of the pillow

Use a damp cloth to wipe clean the entire outer surface of the pillow. Use a watery solution of mild soap if needed.

Step 3: Use a mild detergent to clean the pillow

Like regular pillows, inflatable camping pillows also have a soft top. Harsh cleaning agents can damage the outside surface, leaving it prone to leakage. This is why always use the mildest detergent or stain remover.

Step 4: Rinse the pillow with water

Once you’re sure your pillow is clean, rinse it with water. The number of rinse cycles will depend on the extent of cleaning required and the quantity of detergent used. Overall, 3-4 washes should be enough to get the job done.

Step 5: Dry the pillow

Spread out the wet pillow in the sun and let it dry. You can also put it close to a heater indoors if you are in a hurry and don’t want to wait for nature to do its thing.


Washing your inflatable camping pillow isn’t enough. You must maintain it to ensure its prolonged lifespan. Here’s what we suggest you do:

Put out in the sun regularly

Make sure your camping cushion is thoroughly dry before storing it if you believe it is still quite clean and does not require cleaning. Sun it regularly to keep dust mites, mildew, and allergens at bay.

Be careful when inflating and deflating

When inflating or deflating an inflatable pillow, it’s important to be cautious and attentive to prevent damaging the pillow or causing unwanted accidents.

When inflating, avoid using excessive force, as this can cause the pillow to overinflate and potentially burst. Use slow, steady breaths or a pump designed for inflatable items to avoid overinflation.

When deflating, make sure to fully open the valve and allow the air to escape slowly to prevent sudden collapsing that can cause injury or damage to the pillow.

Also, be mindful of the surroundings and avoid sharp objects that can puncture the pillow during the inflation or deflation process.

Avoid sharp objects and rough surfaces

Keep the pillows away from anything pointy or with a sharp edge, such as knives and nails. They might pierce the material and result in leakage, thus rendering the pillow defunct.

Troubleshoot common issues

Inspect your inflatable backpacking pillow regularly for leaks and faulty valves and repair them as and when required. The pillow should first be laid flat on the ground, inflated, and after that, examined for any visible damage.

If you see any scuffs or tears, you can locate the leak by placing your hand over the afflicted area and checking for escaping air. Examine the seams and air intake regions as well because holes frequently form in these places.


Just as crucial as cleaning your inflatable camping pillow correctly is storing it properly. An improperly stored camping pillow can develop unpleasant odours, lose its shape, and suffer fabric deterioration. Here are tips you can follow:

Clean before storing

Before storing your inflatable camping pillow, it is important to clean it properly to ensure it lasts for many trips to come. Any dirt or debris left on the pillow can lead to bacterial growth, mold, or mildew, which can compromise the pillow’s integrity and cause unpleasant odors.

Store the pillow in a dry, cool place

Storing your inflatable camping pillow in a dry, cool place helps prevent any moisture buildup that could lead to mold or mildew growth on the pillow. Additionally, it helps prolong its lifespan, as excessive heat can cause damage to the material over time.

Avoid folding or compressing the pillow for long

Folding or compressing your inflatable backpacking pillow for an extended period of time can damage the pillow’s internal structure and lead to air leaks or reduced performance when you inflate it again.

Instead, try to store the pillow in a flat and uncompressed state, either in its original packaging or in a breathable bag that allows for air circulation. By taking proper care of your inflatable camping pillow during storage, you can ensure that it will be ready to provide you with a comfortable night’s sleep on your next outdoor adventure.

Store the pillow within a soft enclosure free from sharp objects

When it comes to storing inflatable camping pillows, it is important to protect them from any sharp objects that could puncture the material and render them unusable.

A great way is to store the pillow within a soft enclosure, such as a fabric bag or a pillowcase, that will provide a protective layer between the pillow and any potentially damaging objects.

How to Clean, Maintain, and Store a Self-Inflating Backpacking Pillow

Self-inflating pillows are designed to inflate themselves when the valve is opened, making them easy to use and pack. However, just like any other pillow, they must be kept clean and well-maintained to ensure their longevity and performance.

Dirty pillows can harbor bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that can lead to health problems. Therefore, it is recommended to clean them after every use. The question is, what’s the best way to do it?


Just like inflatable pillows, cleaning a self-inflating pillow might seem weird until you really delve into the procedure, which, of course, is super simple.

To help you understand better, we have segmented the entire cleaning process into the materials you’ll require, their approximate cost, the estimated time required and a step-by-step guide. Read on.

Materials required

  • Water
  • Soap
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Brush or rake
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Mild detergent
  • Paper towel
  • White vinegar
  • Bleach (optional)

Estimated cost

  • Water – free
  • Soap – $1 to $5
  • Brush – $5 to $20
  • Rake – $10 to $30
  • Hose – $20 to $50
  • Bucket – $5 to $15
  • Mild detergent – $5 to $15
  • Paper towel – $1 to $3
  • White vinegar – $1 to $5
  • Bleach – $5 to $15

The total estimated cost of all materials: $53 to $158

Estimated time

The total time taken to finish cleaning a self-inflating pillow can vary from 1 to 2 hours depending on a person’s speed and skills.

Step-by-step cleaning guide

Step 1: Remove excess dirt and debris

Use a brush to remove any stray dust or particles from your self-inflating pillow. Next, using a paper towel that has been dampened with white vinegar wipe the surfaces off. The process can then be repeated until the surface is totally clean.

Step 2: Use a mild soap and water to clean the pillow

To clean the pillow, put it in a bucket of cold water and add a bit of mild soap. Then gently the pillow around to create suds.

Step 3: Rinse the pillow thoroughly

Rinse the pillow thoroughly under running cool water until the remaining soap residue and dirt are removed and the water runs clear.

Step 4: Allow the pillow to air dry completely before storing it

Squeeze out the excess water gently and allow the pillow to dry completely before storing it. You can do this by putting it out in the sun or using a dryer. Take care not to place the pillow too near the dryer lest you want the material damaged.


Here are some tips to keep your self-inflating camping pillow in good condition and safeguard it from damage:

Avoid over-inflating the pillow

Over-inflating your pillow can cause it to burst or damage the internal foam. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to inflate it properly and avoid over-inflating it.

Use a protective cover or pillowcase

A good cover may shield your pillow from oil and grime from your skin, as well as dust mites, bedbugs, and other allergens. At least once every month, wash the cover.

Avoid exposing the pillow to extreme temperatures or sunlight

Direct sunlight and high temperatures can cause the pillow material to degrade faster, reducing its ability to hold air and provide support. It’s best to store the pillow in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, to prevent any damage.

Troubleshoot common issues ()

A stitch in time saves nine. Regularly inspect your self-inflating camping pillow for leaks and faulty valves and repairing immediately. Finding the leak’s location is the first step in fixing a leak.

Also, instead of discarding the pillow if the valve is leaking air, replace the valve. Use a patch repair kit or another common home item, such as duct tape, nail polish, super glue, or marine adhesive, to stop the air leak if it is caused by a tear or puncture in the pillow.


When used on a hike, a self-inflating camping pillow that has been stored well will inflate far more quickly than one that has been stored improperly. Here are some storage tips you can follow:

Deflate the pillow completely

Before storing your self-inflating pillow, make sure to deflate it completely. This will help to reduce the risk of damage to the internal foam.

Store it spread out

Your fully deflated self-inflating pillows should be stretched out and with the valve open when being stored, possibly under the bed.

Store it in a dry and cool place

Store the pillow in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Exposure to high temperatures or sunlight can cause the material to break down, thus compromising its overall utilitarian value.

Use a stuff sack or carry bag

To protect the pillow from damage during storage, use a stuff sack or the carry bag that is provided with the pillow. This will also make it easier to transport the pillow to your next camping trip.

Avoid storing heavy items on top

Avoid placing heavy items on top of the pillow during storage as this can cause it to compress in a way it is difficult to inflate it later.

Avoid using vacuum-sealed bags

Never keep self-inflating camping pillows in vacuum-sealed bags. Extended compression has the same effect as storing heavy items on top would have. It can make it difficult for the pillow to get back in shape when required.

Store the pillow in a soft enclosure

Keep the pillow away from objects that are pointy or have sharp edges such as needles, pins, nails, and knives. The fabric could be pierced by them, leading to leaks.

How to Clean, Maintain, and Store a Non-Inflatable Backpacking Pillow

Non-inflatable backpacking pillows are camping pillows that do not require air to provide support.

They are made of materials like memory foam and down feathers that provide cushioning and support for the head and neck. It’s important to clean non-inflatable pillows regularly to maintain their hygiene and longevity.

Remember, these pillows are more prone to accumulating sweat, dirt, and oil from your skin over time, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. This can cause odors, allergies, and skin irritations, which can make your camping experience unpleasant. 

Of course, cleaning a non-inflatable pillow is easier said than done. Its fill material isn’t air, which makes it all the more complicated. This is why we have segmented the process according to the fill material.

Find out what material your pillow is composed of before cleaning it. The manufacturer’s cleaning instructions will say it all. Even then, the majority of these pillows can be hand-washed or in a washing machine. 

But, in general, simply remove the cover from your pillow if it has one and wash it separately. To freshen your pillow, you can also sprinkle it with baking soda and place it in the sun.

Now, let’s discuss it in detail.

Cleaning, maintaining, and storing backpacking pillows made of memory foam


Memory foam is a not-so-popular material for backpacking pillows but is still used due to its comfort and support. However, regular use can lead to a buildup of dirt and sweat, making it necessary to clean the pillow to maintain its quality. Here are some tips on how to clean backpacking pillows made of memory foam.

Materials required
  • Water
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Clean, dry towels
  • A bucket or sink
  • Stain treatment product (optional)
Estimated cost
  • Water – free
  • Liquid laundry detergent – $5 to $15
  • Clean, dry towels – $5 to $20
  • A bucket or sink – $5 to $20
  • Stain treatment product (optional) – $5 to $15

Total estimated cost of all materials: $20 to $70

Estimated time

The estimated time required to finish cleaning a memory foam camping pillow is 1 to 2 hours depending on your speed and skill. Please note that this doesn’t include the drying time, which can be 24 hours or more.

Step-by-step cleaning guide
  • Start by removing the pillowcase and any other coverings from the pillow.
  • Fill the bucket or sink with warm water and add a small amount of liquid laundry detergent.
  • Dip a clean towel in the soapy water and wring it out to remove excess water.
  • .Gently wipe the surface of the pillow with the damp towel, being careful not to soak the foam.
  • Rinse the towel frequently in the bucket or sink to avoid spreading dirt and grime.
  • If there are stains on the pillow, use a stain treatment product to pre-treat them before washing.
  • Once you’ve finished cleaning the pillow, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue.
  • Squeeze out as much water as possible from the pillow and then blot it dry with a clean towel.
  • Allow the pillow to air dry completely before using it again.

Remember to avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach as they can damage the memory foam. Also, avoid machine washing or drying as it can damage the foam and change its shape.


Here are some tips for increasing the longevity of your memory foam camping pillow with proper maintenance:

Protect it from moisture

Memory foam can absorb moisture, which can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. Keep the pillow away from damp or humid areas, and avoid using it when wet.

Clean it regularly

Regularly clean the pillow to prevent the buildup of dirt, sweat, and oil. Follow the cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer and avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach.

Use a pillowcase

A pillowcase will protect the pillow from dirt and oils from your skin. Wash the pillowcase regularly to keep it clean.

Avoid exposure to heat

Memory foam can be sensitive to heat, so avoid exposing the pillow to direct sunlight or heat sources like heaters or dryers. This can cause the foam to break down and degrade faster.

Allow it to breathe

Memory foam needs to breathe to maintain its shape and support. Allow the pillow to air out regularly, and avoid storing it in an airtight container or bag.


Here are some tips on how to store your camping pillow made of memory foam:

Ensure dryness

Before storing the pillow, make sure it is completely dry to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.

Store the pillow in a cool, dry place

Memory foam is sensitive to temperature and humidity, so it’s important to store the pillow in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Avoid storing the pillow in a compressed state

Memory foam can become compressed over time, which can damage its structure and reduce its ability to provide support. Therefore, it’s best to store the pillow in its natural shape.

Use a breathable storage bag or pillowcase

To protect the pillow from dust and dirt, use a breathable storage bag or pillowcase. Avoid using plastic bags or airtight containers as they can trap moisture and cause mold or mildew to develop.

Avoid placing heavy items on top of the pillow

To prevent the memory foam from becoming compressed or damaged, avoid placing heavy items on top of the pillow during storage.

Cleaning, maintaining, and storing backpacking pillows made of Down feathers


Down feathers are a comparatively popular material used in many backpacking pillows due to their lightweight and compressible properties. However, cleaning these pillows can be tricky. Let’s talk about it in detail.

Materials required
  • Clean, lukewarm water
  • Down-specific detergent (Ivory, Woolite, etc.)
  • Mild soap (optional)
  • White vinegar
  • Bucket or sink
  • Soft-bristled brush or sponge
  • Towels for drying
  • Dryer balls or tennis balls (optional)
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional)
Estimated cost
  • Clean, lukewarm water – free
  • Down-specific detergent (Ivory, Woolite, etc.) – $5 to $15
  • Mild soap: $1 to $5
  • White vinegar – $3 to $5
  • Bucket or sink – $5 to $20
  • Soft-bristled brush or sponge – $2 to $10
  • Towels for drying – $10 to $30
  • Dryer balls or tennis balls (optional) – $3 to $10
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional) – $2 to $5

Total estimated cost of all materials: $31 to $100

Estimated time

The estimated time required to finish cleaning a camping pillow made of down feathers is 1 to 3 hours. Of course, this doesn’t include the drying time, which can take up to 24 hours or more.

Step-by-step cleaning guide
  • Fill a bucket or sink with lukewarm water.
  • Add the Down-specific detergent to the water and mix it in thoroughly.
  • Place the camping pillow into the water and gently press it Down so it becomes fully submerged.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to gently scrub the pillow, paying particular attention to any stained or dirty areas. Be careful not to scrub too hard or pull at the feathers, as this can damage the pillow.
  • Once the pillow has been thoroughly scrubbed, drain the soapy water and rinse the pillow with clean, lukewarm water. Gently press the pillow to remove excess water, but avoid wringing or twisting it, as this can damage the feathers.
  • If desired, you can add a small amount of mild soap to the water for extra cleaning. Be sure to rinse the pillow thoroughly after using soap.
  • Add a half cup of white vinegar to the rinse water to help remove any soap residue and restore the down’s natural softness.
  • Rinse the pillow again with clean, lukewarm water and gently press to remove excess water.
  • If you have dryer balls or tennis balls, add them to the dryer along with the camping pillow. This will help fluff up the down as it dries. If you don’t have these, you can just place the pillow in the dryer by itself.
  • Set the dryer to a low or medium heat setting and allow the pillow to dry completely. This may take a few hours, so be patient.
  • Once the pillow is dry, remove it from the dryer and give it a final fluff to help redistribute the feathers.
  • If desired, you can place the pillow in a mesh laundry bag to help protect it during storage.

And that’s it! With these steps, you should be able to effectively clean your camping pillow made of down feathers using the materials you mentioned.


Here are some tips on how to maintain a camping pillow made of down feathers:

Air it out

After each use, it’s a good idea to air out your camping pillow by hanging it in a well-ventilated area for a few hours. This will help remove any moisture and odors from the pillow.

Store it in a cool, dry place

When not in use, store your camping pillow in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it compressed, as this can damage the feathers over time.

Wash it regularly

Depending on how often you use your camping pillow, you may need to wash it every few months to keep it clean and fluffy. Be sure to follow the steps outlined above when washing it.

Use a pillowcase

Using a pillowcase can help protect the pillow from sweat, oils, and dirt, which can all contribute to a less pleasant sleeping experience.

Avoid getting it wet outdoors

While down feathers can be quite resilient when dry, they can become clumpy and lose their insulating properties when wet. Try to avoid getting your camping pillow wet as much as possible, and if it does get wet, be sure to dry it thoroughly as soon as possible.

Fluff it up

To help maintain the loft and insulating properties of the down feathers, give your camping pillow a good fluffing every so often. This will help redistribute the feathers and keep the pillow feeling soft and comfortable.


Here are some tips on how to store a camping pillow made of down feathers:

Clean it before storage

Before storing your camping pillow, make sure it is clean and completely dry. This will help prevent any mold or mildew growth while it’s in storage.

Store it uncompressed

To maintain the loft and insulating properties of the down feathers, it’s important to store your camping pillow in an uncompressed state. This means avoiding any storage bags or containers that compress the pillow.

If you have to use one at all, consider using a compression sack designed specifically for Down products. This will help protect the pillow and prevent it from becoming compressed and damaged during transport.

Use a breathable storage bag

If you want to protect your camping pillow while it’s in storage, consider using a breathable storage bag. This will allow air to circulate around the pillow, which can help prevent moisture buildup and keep it fresh.

Store it in a cool, dry place

To prevent any damage to the down feathers, store your camping pillow in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and any sources of heat. This will help prevent any moisture buildup or heat damage to the feathers.

Avoid storing it with other items

To prevent any crushing or compression of the down feathers, avoid storing your camping pillow with other items that may put pressure on it. Instead, store it on its own or with other soft, lightweight items that won’t damage the feathers.

Okay, It’s a Wrap-up!

Your camping cushion can last you a lifetime if you keep it clean and well-maintained and store it properly. Of course, the procedures will differ based on the type of pillow and not every process will be easy. Still and all, it’s worth a shot. However, if you think it is too much of a chore, use your pillow till it wears out and then, get a new one!

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