We know it can be stressful putting an expensive hiking essential like your down jacket in the washing machine. You need to clean it with special products that won’t ruin the unique feather construction – but not too often, otherwise you’ll risk damaging it – and on the right setting. And then there’s the drying. No need to panic though; just follow these easy steps to keep yours in tip top condition…
First thing’s first, you need to brush any mud or debris off your jacket – by hand will do – and secure any zip fastenings and pockets. Once it’s zipped up, turn it inside out. This will help protect the outer layer from ripping in the drum of the washing machine.
Spot clean any really bad stains with a down-specific cleaner such as NikWax’s Down Wash Direct, and let that soak in for about 15 minutes.
Clean out the detergent compartment of your washing machine as residue from normal soaps can damage your down jacket. Then, put it in the washing machine on its own so it can’t get caught up on anything, and fill the drawer with your chosen cleaner – be sure to check the instructions on the back of the packet for quantities.
Put it on a cold wash and select the ‘delicates’ or ‘hand wash’ setting if you have it.
As soon as your washing machine beeps – don’t let your jacket sit in there for too long or it’ll start to smell! – pop it on a quick rinse cycle to make sure all the cleaning fluid has disappeared.
To dry your down jacket, run it through a couple of spin cycles, then gently squeeze any excess water out by hand, being careful not to squish the feather filling too hard and alter the shape.
You can air dry your down jacket, but a tumble dryer will guarantee the best results.
Set your tumble dryer to the lowest heat setting and add your down jacket along with two drier balls or clean tennis balls. As the balls bounce around in the drum they’ll work to fluff up the feather filling, stopping them from sticking together and losing their insulation. It’ll take a couple of hours for your jacket to completely dry, and it’s a good idea to interrupt the cycle every half an hour to shake it out and make sure the feathers aren’t clumping.
You’ll know your jacket is dry inside and out when it feels light and fluffy.
1) If you use your down jacket weekly, you should try to wash it at least every other month. For seasonal users, twice a year should do the trick
2) Don’t be tempted to put any old cleaner in the drum with your favourite puffer jacket. Normal detergents can strip down feathers of their natural oils, making them weak and brittle – we want them strong and fluffy to keep you warm! – and interfere with the water-repellent abilities of the shell exterior
3) Don’t ever iron your down jacket – it will melt!
4) Always store your jacket – and anything filled with down for that matter – in a cool dry place, and hang it up rather than scrunching or folding it into a bag if possible
And if you’ve been putting off buying your dream down jacket for fear of not knowing how to wash it, now you can invest...