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How To Wash A Down Jacket

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How to Wash a Down Jacket

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This is a complete guide on How to Wash a Down Jacket. If you wear a down jacket a lot(especially during the cold, winter months when you need extra layering) then it’s highly likely that at some point or another, you’re going to need to give your down jacket a wash to get rid of any built-up dirt, grime, and body oils. All the Best Ultralight Down Jackets on the market can be washed using the methods mentioned below.


How To Wash A Down Jacket

Down Jackets are great for their small packing size and warmth to weight ratio but washing requires a little bit of time and effort.

  • Use a Front Load Washing Machine only – Top Loaders are not as gentle, even on the gentle cycle.
  • Add 100 ml of Nikwax Down Wash or similar to warm water in a large bucket or tub
  • Add the Down Jacket to the mix of warm water and Down Wash.
  • Gently hand wash for 2 minute to massage the cleaning agent into the jacket and remove the worst body oils from around the neck, shoulder and arm cuffs of the jacket.
  • Place the jacket and Down Wash into the front load washing machine and set to a gentle cycle.
  • Optional step (Recommended) – When Finished, spray on a DWR Treatment to the outside of the jacket. Use a product such as Nikwax TX Direct.
  • When finished add the jacket to a large dryer on low heat (optional add Tennis Balls). It might take well over an hour to become dry with the loft restored as good as new.

Keep Reading Below, you’ll find a very detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean your down jacket to keep it in the same pristine condition it was when you first bought it. Read on!


Why Should You Wash Your Down Jacket?

Before we get into the step-by-step instructions, I thought it would be a good idea to first run you through exactly why you should be cleaning your down jacket, as a lot of people tend to overlook it.

There are two important parts to washing a down jacket. The outer fabric or face fabric and the down that is inside the jacket.

Why Wash the Outer Fabric of a Down Jacket

Due to the fact that down is delicate in nature, the outside of most of the Best Down Jackets are treated with a durable water-resistant finish (which is sometimes referred to as a DWR finish). This DWR coating is a chemical coating that works similar to the wax you put on your car. It allows the water to bead and run off the jacket without soaking through.

For this reason, the coating of most down jackets is hydrophobic, which means that it is able to repel water in order to keep the down feathers fluffy and full from the dangers of water.

Without the outside of the down jacket being treated with the DWR finish, down coats can become exposed to water and other external elements, and so it is important to make sure that your down jacket has been given this treatment. 

Nevertheless, even though DWR treatments are not necessary for helping to maintain the quality of your down jacket, with regular use it is inevitable that dirt, body oil, and exposure to rain will ultimately reduce the effectiveness of your down jacket, so it’s important to make sure that you’re regularly cleaning it.

Why Wash the Down that is inside the Down Jacket

The down which is inside the down jacket does not like getting wet nor does it like getting coated with body oils or dirt. It needs to stay clean and dry. Over time the down will lose a lot of it’s loft and when that happens it usually is not as warm as it was when it was brand new. many people may think the down jacket is faulty or no good. This is the perfect time to give it a wash.

By making sure that you are cleaning your down jacket, you will help to rejuvenate the insulation properties of it, while also making sure that you’re as comfortable as possible while wearing it. 


How To Wash Your Down Jacket: Step-By-Step Instructions

How to Wash a Down Jacket

Below, you will find step-by-step instructions on how to clean your down jacket – let’s take a look at them:

Step 1: First things first, you’re going to need to find a front-load washing machine, as the agitator on a top-loader washing machine can damage the delicate fabric and feathers of your down jacket. Once you have access to a front-load washing machine, you will then need to make sure that you have Down Wash. Only use a down specific wash such as Nikwax Down Wash. This is what I recommend and I have been using it for many years.

Do Not have a Front Loading Washing Machine? Consider heading to a local laundromat store or alternatively booking a professional down washing service.

Step 2: Add 100 ml of Nikwax Down Wash or similar to warm water in a large bucket or tub and begin to agitate the down wash and the jacket. Pay special attention to the areas the are known to be more dirty than others such as the areas around the collar, cuffs and shoulders.

Important Information: Do not use normal detergent that you would use to wash your clothes. It will strip the natural oils from the down and it will never be as good as new. Use Nikwax Down Wash, it is one of the best cleaners made for down feathers, as it has been specifically designed to not strip the feathers of their oil, while also not breaking down the DWR treatment across the exterior.

Step 3: After you have hand washed your down jacket, you should then proceed to place it on a gentle wash cycle with your front load washing machine.

Pro Tip: If you have a stubborn stain use a small amount of the Down Wash undiluted on the stain and massage the stain until it has been removed. If your Down Jacket is very dirty it may need to be washed twice. 99% of the time this is not needed – did you fall into a mud puddle recently!

Once completed, you should then make sure that your jacket gets a good rinse so that all of the excess water has been removed.

Step 4: Optional – Add a DWR Coating to the outside of the damp down jacket – Spray Nikwax TX Direct to the outside of the jacket.

Step 5: After you have finished cleaning your down coat and have made sure that your coat has been rinsed off any excess water, you should then make sure to place your down jacket on a low heat cycle in a large dryer.

It’s important that you do this so that your down jacket can fully dry.

If you do not have a large dryer it can be air dried, but honestly it is nowhere near as good as using a dryer. Go to a laundromat if needed.

Pro Tip: Use 1 or 2 tennis balls in the dryer to help restore the fluffiness of your down feathers. Do I really need to mention they should be brand new, not something the dog has been playing with!

Step 6: After the low heat cycle has finished, place your down coat on a rack to dry (preferably overnight) and then begin wearing it as usual once more!

In addition to this, you should also be sure to avoid using any bleach products or fabric softener, because if you do, you will be running the risk of causing your down jacket to become damaged beyond repair.


How often should you wash a down jacket?

How to Wash a Down Jacket

As a general rule of thumb, you should make sure that you are washing your down jacket around once every month or two if you use it every day. However, if you do not use your down jacket that often, then this cleaning time frame can be a longer.

Ultimately, you will be the best judge when it comes to deciding whether or not it’s time to give your down jacket a clean. Personally, I only wash my down jacket at the end of winter when it is unlikely to get much more use or, if it is dirty and starts to lose the ability to loft like a brand new down jacket.


What you need to wash a Down Jacket?

A complete Guide to how to wash a down jacket

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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