How to wash a Down Jacket

A lightweight down jacket is an important piece of gear that should be on top of your packing list.

On the trails or just in the outdoors a quality down jacket/parker will keep you warm and toasty, making for enjoyable outdoor adventures.

It’s been warned like a second skin in the backcountry, it got some stains, it’s a bit grubby and smelly.

So it’s now time to give it a wash.  This article takes you through the steps on how to wash a down jacket.

Washing your down jacket will get rid of the stains and smells, it will also rejuvenate your coasts insulation.

The cleaner the coat, the fluffier the loft, the warmer and more comfortable you will feel.   

Most outdoors people are afraid to wash their down jackets. They are afraid their jacket will shrink, go moldy or deteriorate.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. Like your sleeping bag, you should give it a wash. 

How to wash a Down Jacket

What you need

To wash your jacket you will need the following items. 

1. Down Jacket

2. Washing Machine 

3. Dryer 

4. Tennis balls 

Before you start always read the care instructions of the down jacket. 

Pre Wash

Wet a cloth and gently wipe off any chunks or smears of dirt or grime. 

Check all the pockets, ensure there are no objects that can cause problems or get ruined

Zip up all the zips so the pocket zips don’t get caught on insides of the washing machine or dryer. If possible turn the jacket inside out 

How to wash a Down Jacket

Clean the detergent compartment

Makes sure you give the Detergent Compartment a wash under cold water.

The detergent compartment may contain traces of fabric softener or regular detergent.  

You may want to run your washing machine on a short run to clean out any residual detergent or softeners (regular washing detergent as it can be leave chemical residues, stains and diminish the color of the down jacket)

How to wash a Down Jacket

Set the Cycle

The preference is to use a front end loader rather than top-end loader, for the simple reason front end loaders are gentler that top-end loaders.

Jackets have been known to get snagged or caught in Top end loaders.

If you’re worried about your top-loading washer, consider taking a trip to a laundromat in your area.

Pour in the specialty Cleaner

Turn on the washing machine to cold or delicate or wool cycle or equivalent gentle cycle.  

Pour the specialty cleaner into the washing machine  

We don’t recommend using regular washing detergent as it can leave chemical residues, stains and diminish the color of the down jacket.

Instead, we use and recommend using a specialty cleaner such as Granger Down Wash

How to wash a Down Jacket
Granger Down Wash

Wash again

Recommend putting the down jacket through another gentle cycle to make sure all the soap is removed. 

Drying the Down Jacket

Down jackets should never be air-dried. It takes too long, the feathers will clump together and may end up smelling like a wet dog.

There is also a risk of feathers becoming moldy. 

Instead, place the down jacket in the dryer on low heat, taking the jacket out every 30 minutes making sure there are no clumps.

Drying your jacket may take 2-3 hours and don’t succumb to being impatient by turning up the heat.

This may damage your down jacket, melting the seams and outer shell of the jacket.

Don’t forget to put in two or three clean tennis balls or dryer balls to help break down the wet clump. if you don’t have tennis balls can use rolled-up socks as a substitute. 

Note: do not wring your down jacket, no matter how heavy it is. 

How to wash a Down Jacket

Should be dry

After 2-3 hours, the down jacket should be 100% dry. Shake the down jacket and fluff it up with your hands as you would like a pillow. 

Unless you are immediately going on an adventure, allow the down jacket to breathe and stay uncompressed by hanging it freely in a closet.

If short on space, place in a small laundry bag but don’t stuff it in. Compressing down jackets squash the feathers, losing the fluffy nature of the jacket.

Fluffier the loft, the warmer and more comfortable you will feel.   

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide helped you revitalize your favorite piece of gear.

If you are looking to upgrade or buy another coat check out our guide to the best women’s winter jackets and best winter jackets for men.  

As always, please leave a comment below if you have any recommendations, questions, or suggestions.  

More Information

If you have enjoyed this article, you will enjoy our other articles. Below are some of our other gear reviews and popular resources;

Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

How to choose Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Best Women’s Backpacking Backpacks

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