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How to Wash Down Jackets and Properly Store Them

September 14, 2015

A new down jacket is an investment for many winter seasons, so be sure to keep yours in top condition.

If you don't properly care for your down jacket, your jacket will lose its loft, which is essential for insulation. Mishandling your jacket will not only decrease its insulation, but also cause other troublesome issues such as unevenness and lumps. Plus, a lumpy jacket lowers your jacket's quality in both style and function, so try to avoid any mistakes at all costs. Don't worry though, taking care of a down jacket is a pretty simple task under the right techniques and instructions. When the time comes, you'll be glad that you took the effort to maintain your most essential winter outerwear for freezing weather.

Cleaning your Down Jacket

Down jackets can either be hand or machine washed. Methods of cleaning your jacket depend on its fabrics and materials, so make sure you know what your jacket's components are by checking its product description, which is usually found on its label. Neglecting to know what your jacket is made of could lead to further damage to your jacket, so avoid any mistakes that will cause you more trouble in the long run. Fortunately, a majority of down jackets are machine washable, except for a few fabrics such as silk-based material, which should be brought to a professional dry cleaning service.

Troublesome Spots

Whether you've been out all morning shoveling last night's snowstorm or outdoors hiking on a difficult mountain trail, your down jacket can get pretty dirty through all the strenuous activity you've put it through. On particularly troublesome spots marked with grime and dry sweat, use a diluted solution of detergent, preferably liquid detergent mixed in a half-and-half concentration of detergent and water. Mix your solution thoroughly and check that the detergent is dissolved completely. Spray your solution on the stained spots and let the jacket sit for 30 minutes. Remember to pull out the pockets of the jacket when cleaning and zip the zippers all the way up. To get spots on the inside of the jacket, reverse the jacket inside out by flipping the sleeves and apply more cleaning solution to any spots.

Machine Washing Techniques

Down jackets have their signature puffy look because they contain not only down, but also air as well. Therefore, when putting your jacket into a washing machine, make sure that the jacket is not floating by pushing the jacket down. Wash the jacket in warm water in a wool cycle setting, but don't make the mistake of using hot water. High heat is unadvised due to the possibility of melting seams and outer shell fabric. When drying, set tumble use as delicates, and add tennis balls to the dryer, which can help with redistributing the jacket's filling to avoid clumping. After drying for half a cycle, take out the jacket and work away air pockets and clumps that may have gathered when drying. Put the jacket in again for another half cycle, and when completely dry, turn the jacket inside out in a well-ventilated area. Don't dry a down jacket in a closet or small enclosed space because lack of air flow will turn the jacket stale.

Storing your jacket

Down jackets should be cleaned before storing them away for the summer. Never stuff or compress your jacket in a small space because packing your jacket down will cause feathers to clump into lumps. Let your down jackets be able to air out and breathe, not wrapped in plastic. Instead, cover the top of the jacket with light paper, which will protect it from any light damage or dust. Follow these steps and your jackets will be in great condition for many years.  


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