Since my family lives in the upper Midwest, we deal with bitter cold temperatures for nearly half the year. It’s not uncommon to wake up to temperatures well below zero, with wind chills that make the frigid temperatures even less inviting. It’s no wonder down jackets are in high demand around here. Anyone who hikes or camps in colder temps knows down jackets provide cozy winter warmth without being overly heavy and bulky.
Whether climbing a mountain or shoveling the driveway, eventually down jackets get dirty like all other clothing. And if you have children, maybe even a little more often! While you may think you need to send your down jacket off for special cleaning that can be costly and inconvenient, it’s nice to know that with some simple tips and tricks, you can easily wash down jackets right in the comfort of your own home.
How to wash down jackets
While the following cleaning suggestions have been helpful to me in washing my family’s down jackets, always refer to your jacket’s washing and drying instructions for specific details.
If your jacket has any visible stains, consider treating them prior to washing for an extra cleaning boost. A plant-based stain remover can work wonders. Or try a simple combination of 1 part dish soap mixed with 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, which does an amazing job fighting all types of stains, from food smears to dirt spots. Allow the treatment to sit on the stain for a minimum of one hour before washing.
Prior to Washing
It is important to remove any non-washable parts of your jacket prior to washing. For example, if there is any faux fur, it is typically attached with buttons or zippers and requires removal. Additionally, before throwing your jacket in the washing machine, close up any zippers, buttons, and/or Velcro to avoid snagging during the wash cycle.
Washing A Down Jacket
The good news is that most down jackets can be washed in a front loading washing machine or a top loading washer without an agitator. (Unfortunately, agitators can damage down filling.) While it is recommended that you use a laundry detergent specifically designed for washing down items, a mild/gentle laundry detergent can work as well. Down should be washed on the gentle cycle in warm water to help protect the garment’s integrity for the long term. Please note that you should wash each down jacket individually to give the jacket plenty of space to move about the washing machine. Though optional, I like to run our family's down jackets through a second rinse cycle to make sure no soap residue is left behind. Doing this second rinse with cold water can help cut back on energy consumption.
Drying A Down Jacket
Down jackets can be dried in a normal dryer; however, just as with washing, you’ll benefit from knowing a couple insider tips beforehand:
Dry the jacket by itself, not with other clothing items. Down benefits from extra space to move around for more thorough drying.
Add a few dryer balls (or clean tennis balls) to the dryer. These will help break up any clumping of the down filling during the dry cycle and speed up dry time. The bouncing can be a tad noisy, but it’s worth it.
Dry on low heat to help avoid any shrinking or scorching.
During the drying process, check on the jacket a few times to make sure no clumps of fill are forming. If you notice any, simply break them up with your hands.
That’s all there is to it—now you know how to wash your down jacket. While this may require a little extra care and attention, it’s easy to do, and the end result is a clean down jacket ready to brave the bitter cold once again.
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