How to Clean a Down Jacket or Coat

Down jackets and coats are great because they provide comfortable experiences in the coldest of temperatures, with their fluffy down feathers and fortifying exteriors. Down jackets are designed with frequent activity and durability in mind and tend to be some of the most cherished options for those looking for something to wear when temperatures begin to plummet or when spending time enjoying cold and snowy terrains. As with any go-to gear, there will come a time when it needs to be washed, which should be a mindful process when washing any personal down coats or jackets. The delicate nature of the fluffy feathered and the materials used when creating these pieces is what make these coats or jackets so special, so taking the extra steps to properly learn how to wash a down jacket is a valuable way to extend the jacket’s use and make the most out of your outdoor gear.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to wash a jacket to guarantee the integrity of your piece is still intact to extend the usability of your jacket or coat. With the appropriate supplies and a few extra measures of mindfulness, any down jacket can be cleaned, refreshed, and revitalized with these simple steps of washing a down jacket.

Can You Wash a Down Jacket?

It’s pretty normal when first enjoying the comfort of a down jacket or coat to ask yourself the question, “Am I able to wash this?” This can often lead to people going for extended periods without washing their coat or jacket, which can provide some discomfort down the line. In actuality, it’s possible to wash a down jacket, which can be especially helpful to know for active individuals that enjoy getting the most out of their down items. While washing a down jacket or coat may not be as effortless as washing a t-shirt or jeans, there are a few simple tricks for washing a down jacket that can save someone money on clothing down the line and help them enjoy their down jacket for as long as they can.

Steps to Washing a Down Jacket

When washing a down jacket, the most important thing to consider before beginning is to have the appropriate supplies and have a game plan for the execution. Not only is gathering the correct materials, but also in considering the particular washer and dryer set-up and if it caters well to washing a down coat. If you’re trying to learn how to wash a down jacket in the most conscious and streamlined way possible, follow these easy steps.

Step #1: Gather the Right Supplies

Other than the down jacket itself, it’s important to gather the appropriate materials for this laundry task. You’ll want to make sure to collect these beforehand to guarantee you won’t have to make any last-minute runs to the store while you’re waiting to turn over the load. When washing a down jacket, you’ll need a few items, such as:

  • Gentle laundry detergent:

    Gentle laundry detergent tends to already be a common staple in many people’s laundry rooms and is also the preferred detergent for cleaning down jackets. This ensures that the feathers within the jacket are not stripped of their natural oils that keep them so fluffy and can leave residual odors that will refuse to fade away once the jacket has been cleaned. While there are numerous detergents made strictly for down garments, most gentle detergents will do the trick.

  • 4-5 tennis balls:

     In terms of the drying cycle, gathering 4-5 tennis balls is important in ensuring that the drying process isn’t simply a toss around in the heat for the coat or jacket. Adding the tennis balls to the machine allows the tennis balls to fluff up the jacket and refresh and rejuvenate the down material of the jacket.

Step #2: Get the Jacket Ready

The next step is preparing the down jacket itself for cleaning, first by checking the washing instructions for the garment. The jacket may have specific temperature requirements or washing instructions that should be considered before beginning that will play a role in the following steps. Additionally, we’re all likely guilty of neglecting receipts or small wrappers deep in the pockets of our coats and jackets, but make sure that all of these small pieces are removed before beginning washing your down jacket. It’s also a good idea to check the jacket for any especially dirty areas and spot clean any dirt off the garment to make washing the down jacket a bit easier later on.

Step #3: Washing the Jacket

The next step of washing your down jacket or coat is placing the jacket into the appropriate washer for the job. It’s recommended to use a front-facing washing machine rather than a top-down machine to prevent the ripping of feathers when inside the machine. Using the detergent, spot treat any particular heinous stains or spots and place the jacket inside the washing machine in a cold water setting. Begin the first wash cycle on a gentle or normal wash cycle and wait. Once the jacket has gone through the wash for one cycle, run the washing machine once again without using any laundry detergent to further rinse any soap from the jacket (feathers can be very absorbent, and this prevents lingering aromas).

Step #4: Drying the Jacket

Once the washing stage has been completed, it’s time to prepare for patience within the drying process for the down jacket. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are not recommended for down items as they tend to damage the fabric and protective coating used in many down jackets. The most important step in properly washing a down jacket is making sure to have the dryer set to the lowest heat possible to avoid burning fabrics and fathers and in a gentle setting to prevent tearing and breakage. Because of this low-heat and tumbling configuration, it should be expected for the jacket to need to be in the dryer for multiple cycles to get the piece completely dry.

While tennis balls will do their thing in preventing the bunching of fabrics and materials, it’s also a good idea to occasionally remove the jacket from the dryer and give it a good tussle to break down clumps of feathers that may have formed during the washing and drying process. Because down tends to absorb water, you’ll know the jacket is completely dry once it’s lighter, clump-free, and visibly refreshed.