Insulated and lightweight, down jackets, are the ideal wardrobe choice for your daily winter commutes. It’s a popular go-to item for the icy days, yet most people don’t think to clean them.
Though you shouldn’t wash your down jacket frequently, if you leave it unwashed for a long period of time, not only will your garment collect mold and grime, but it will lose its loft, which provides the lavish warmth and comfort of these heated jackets.
Moreover, down jackets are an investment; it’s important to take good care of them so that they last you for many years. Understanding how to wash winter jackets will give you the right knowledge you need to stave off the cold this winter—and many winters to come.
How to Remove Stains from Down Jackets
Before delving into all the cleaning details, it’s important that you check the tags in your jacket beforehand to see if there are any particular instructions for the specific type of jacket that you own. Most down jackets typically only need to be washed once a season or when absolutely necessary to minimize the likelihood of wear and tear.
If you haven’t washed your jacket since last winter, you probably have stains from food, dirty snow, or puddles. Be sure to take care of them before throwing it in the washer. How do you remove stains from down jackets? Follow these easy steps:
Find a Hard Surface
Put your jacket on a hard surface such as a table, so you have a good grip and are able to reach all the crevices. Make sure your jacket is zipped all the way up and the pockets are out, as down material can easily rip when wet.
Clean with a Soap that Works for You
You can tackle stains with simple ingredients like dish soap. Add a squirt of dish soap on the stain and gently rub it in with your finger. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Then, with a dry cloth, gently scrub the stain. If you aren’t able to get all of the stains out, try using:
- Drops of liquid laundry detergent or safe cleaning fluid such as Renuzit or Carbona.
- Denatured alcohol.
- Down jacket specific cleansers (discussed in the next section).
In case you get gum or sap on your down jacket, this requires a more specialized process.
Put some ice cubes in a zipper-lock bag, and place the bag on the sap or gum until it hardens (about 30 minutes).
Scrape It Off
Use a dull butter knife to scrape off as much sap or gum as you can. Be as gentle as possible to not damage the fabric. After scraping off most of the gunk, you can scrub the area gently with a toothbrush to remove any residue.
White Vinegar and Water Solution
Soak the garment in a white vinegar and water solution, and throw it into the washer with lukewarm or cold water and detergent.
Selecting the Best Down Jacket Cleaner and What to Use
Once you have tackled all of your stains, it’s time to let the jacket soak and wash. Before tossing it in the washer, be sure to:
- Wash it separately from other items of clothing that are made of other types of materials. When different fabrics rub together, it can cause fading and degradation.
- Turn your jackets inside out and fasten any zippers and buttons to ensure they won’t get caught in any crevices of your machine.
- Steer clear of fabric softeners, bleach, and hot water.
The great thing is, you can use any gentle liquid detergent you have at home. The liquid form is highly recommended, as powder detergent can easily make parts of the jacket lining stick together. But, if you prefer to go for soaps that are specifically made for down fabric, the following brands are the most popular and best down jacket cleaners:
- Nikwax Down Wash
- Granger’s Down Wash
- ReviveX Down Cleaner
- Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner
How to Wash Your Synthetic Down Jacket in the Washer
How do you wash synthetic down jackets? After properly separating these specialized garments from your regular load, you can toss them in the washer with a gentle liquid detergent or down jacket cleaner. If you’re washing multiple down jackets at a time, be sure that this load isn’t too full, since it can cause compression and wear.
Use a Front-Loading Washer If Possible
It’s best to use a front-loading washer if you can because the agitator in top-loading machines can rip or snag your jacket. If you don’t have access to a top loader, put your down coat in a pillowcase or garment bag.
Select the Most Gentle Load for Washing
Add your liquid detergent and choose the most gentle setting at a cold or warm temperature.
Run It Through Two Cycles
After running the washer with the detergent, run it again without any cleansers to make sure that all of the soap is removed.
How to Dry Down Jackets
So now that you know how to clean down feather jackets, it’s time to unveil the drying process. Can you dry down jackets in the dryer? Yes! Drying down jackets is a fairly simple process, but it isn’t like drying your usual load of laundry. Thus, it’s important to understand how and why to take the proper steps during this process.
How to Dry Down Jackets in the Dryer
The benefit of drying down jackets in the dryer is that it allows you to fluff it at the same time. As they often come out of the washer rather clumpy, a dryer helps achieve the lovely puffiness that it had before.
Add Dryer Balls
Drying a down jacket in the dryer requires some dryer balls. If you’ve never used these before, they are balls that stop the feathers from clumping together. They ultimately create the fluff in your garments and speed up the drying process.
You can even use actual tennis balls if you don’t have any of the dryer-specific balls. Throw in two or three of them with your jackets in the dryer.
Use a Low Heat Setting
It’s crucial that you run the cycle on low heat. Hot temperatures can cause damage.
Check On It
How long should you dry down jackets? It typically takes about two to three hours for down jackets to completely dry on low heat. Be sure to pull out your jackets from time to time (every 15 minutes or so) to break up any clumps and to check that it's in good condition. Breaking up these clumps will also help create more fluff to your jacket.
How to Air Dry Down Jackets
If drying down jackets in a dryer isn’t possible because you don’t have immediate access to a dryer, don’t use a laundromat dryer either. They tend to carry temperature settings that are too high. However, the good news is that air-drying down jackets are always an option!
How to dry down jackets when you don’t have a dryer machine is a lengthy, but fairly simple process. You should opt to dry your jacket outdoors, out of direct sunlight, or in a well-ventilated area.
Lay It Flat
Lay it flat on a towel in a warm dry spot.
Take Care of the Clumps
Pull apart any clumps every 10 minutes and flip it over periodically to help it dry faster.
Depending on the size of your jacket, it can take up to a day for it to dry. Be sure that its fully dried before storing it away, as dampness can produce an unpleasant odor.
How to Fluff Down Jackets Without a Dryer
So you’ve washed and air-dried your coat, but it doesn’t seem to have the loft that it had before. How do you fluff down jackets when you don’t have a dryer? All you need are your hands!
Shake the jacket and fluff it up with your hands as if you were fluffing a pillow. Make sure to pull apart any last remaining clumps that you may have missed during the air-drying process.
When you are done cleaning your winter jacket, be sure to store it uncompressed in a clean and dry spot.
Take the Time to Clean and Invest
Winter jackets and coats require care. While it’s easy to envelop our bodies with these cozy down garments and forget about them once the season ends, it’s essential to take the time to clean them.
So the next time you take your down jacket out for a wild ride during the cold winter months, take the time to wash and care for them at the end of the season. Down jackets carry specific materials that require different attention than your usual laundry bundle of cotton and polyester items. It’s important to follow these steps in order to get the coverage and warmth you need every year.
Wear the World’s First Heated Jacket
Wear the world's first heated jacket and keep yourself warm during all your winters. Lightweight, packable, and 100-percent washable, Ravean’s heated jackets feature multi-zone heating zones and a temperature controller button. Be sure to also check out the special care instructions for these jackets.