How to Wash a Down Jacket

After reading the article on how to choose a down jacket, you have passed the course and you have bought a nice down jacket… You will no longer be afraid of being cold when hiking!

Now, are you wondering how to wash a down jacket? I will tell you everything! This article is mainly about down jackets because for those that are synthetic, there is nothing special. Washing is done the same way as any other synthetic garment, following the instructions on the label.

To know

  • Washing is carried out at 30°C maximum
  • It is best to use a specific washing product for down or a non-aggressive soap (shampoo for example)
  • Drying requires several days outdoors in the sun or in a warm AND dry place (but not glued to a radiator!)
  • The tennis balls that are used to air the sleeping bag during washing damage the washing machines in the long run
  • Your down jacket does not need to be washed after each hike, once a year is usually sufficient, depending on use.

Down jacket cleaning products

Nikwax Down Wash Direct

To get a specific washing product for down, go to the hiking shops. You will mainly find Nikwax, the most popular American brand worldwide. The brand offers a product called “Down Wash” which respects the environment (biodegradable).

The cleaners

We don’t always think about it, but it couldn’t be simpler! Entrust your down jacket to a washing professional and the assurance that you will find it like new. They are used to dealing with down items (quilts, pillows, coats…). It will generally cost you between 15 and 20 dollars depending on the volume of your down jacket. And to stay closer to nature, choose an ecological laundry that uses biodegradable products.

How to wash a down jacket?

Hand cleaning

Your down jacket does not necessarily need to be washed completely every time. You can simply clean the lining by hand, where it is dirtiest, usually at the collar, cuffs… so as not to alter the down.

Washing

  • Fill a basin with warm soapy water
  • Dip, then wring out, a washcloth or sponge (it should be just damp)
  • Gently clean your down jacket, taking care that it does not soak up water

Rinsing

  • Do the same operation but just with water
  • Make sure there’s not a single trace of soap left

Drying

  • Absorb moisture with paper towels (Sopalin®)
  • Put your down jacket in the sun (if not in a warm AND dry place)

Drying a down jacket

Hand washing

If your down jacket needs a thorough cleaning, you can wash it by hand. This gentler and shorter wash will preserve it more than machine washing.

Washing

  • Fill a basin with warm soapy water
  • Dip your down jacket in
  • Clean it by rubbing gently

Rinsing

  • Do the same operation but just with water
  • Make sure there’s not a single trace of soap left

Drying

  • Wring out your down jacket by pressing it flat between two towels (don’t wring it!)
  • Absorb the remaining moisture with a paper towel
  • Put your down jacket in the sun on a drying rack (failing this in a warm AND dry place) for the necessary time, several days, until the down is completely dry
  • Scatter the down

How to wash a down jacket 3

Machine wash

If you don’t want to wash your down jacket by hand, you can always put it in the washing machine. This will save you the washing part, but not the scattering part of the down.

Washing/rinsing

  • Clean the machine’s detergent container
  • Use a washing product suitable for down (no fabric softener!)
  • Set the machine to 30°C
  • Put 2 or 3 tennis balls in the machine
  • Choose the gentlest spin (or no spin)

Drying

  • If not machine-spinned, wring it out by pressing it flat between two towels (don’t twist it!)
  • Absorb the remaining moisture with a paper towel
  • Put your down jacket in the sun on a drying rack (failing this in a warm AND dry place) for the necessary time, several days, until the down is completely dry
  • Scatter the down

Dispersion of down

This very last step in washing a down jacket is the most delicate. For it to keep all its swelling power, care must be taken to properly disperse the down. In order to prevent the down from forming small balls, you can (must) during the drying phase in the sun:

  • Tap it, shake it regularly
  • Distribute the down with your fingers until the balls are dispersed

Attention

  • A wet down jacket = moldy down
  • A down jacket stored without dispersion of the down = loss of fluffiness/loss of heat

And don’t forget, at home, a down jacket can be stored uncompressed, protected from humidity. The small compression cover is only used to save space in your backpack!

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