How to wash a down jacket and not destroy it? Step by step instructions

We love down jackets, because they are ultralight, easy to pack and feature perfect thermal insulation.However, they cost too much not to care for them. In fear of washing the down jackets we try to handle them with great caution not to tear them, destroy them or make them dirty. Indeed, washing can be quite problematic as down absorbs moisture rapidly and this makes a perfect environment for development of mould if not perfectly dried.  At the same time it easily becomes clumpy and loses its properties. So one may think it is better not to wash it in order not to destroy it. Wrong! Wash it! We will explain how to do it so that you don’t ruin it.

What will you learn from this description?

  • How to prepare a washing machine before washing a down jacket?
  • How to wash a down jacket?
  • How to dry a down jacket?
  • Why do you need tennis balls to wash down?

In a nutshell

Washing a down jacket allows you to restore its loft and extend its life. It is important to prepare your washing machine before washing by removing the remaining powder from the detergent dispenser. Use the manual or wool programme and, if you can, set up an extra rinse cycle. Use only the washing products designed specifically for down. Don't forget to dry your jacket well in a tumble dryer or on a drying rack after washing.

Are you sure your down jacket needs washing?

You really don't have to be afraid to wash your down jacket! Contrary to what some people say, natural down should be cleaned regularly. Certainly, you don't have to do it once a week. However, if you feel that your jacket has already lost its original freshness, it's probably a good time to give it a wash. Washing extends the life of goose or duck down and restores its loft, that is its elasticity, and what goes with it - thermal insulation properties.

Washing synthetic insulation is a different story, as it doesn’t like washing and you should do it only when it is necessary.

How to wash a down jacket and not destroy it?

We give a step by step instructions how to wash a down jacket in the washing machine so that the whole process is completely safe. However, we must warn you that your jacket may not look like the one before washing when you take it out the washing machine. Don't worry! Clumps of down are normal and they will break up and return to the original shape.

Prepare your washing machine

The remaining powder or fabric softener in the washing machine poses the biggest problem, as it can damage the fabric. Therefore, first remove the detergent dispenser and rinse thoroughly with running water. Then, set the rinse program followed by an empty cycle.

Down cleaner

You'll probably be surprised finding out that down is not the one that is the most sensitive to detergents. It is the synthetic fabric used for the outer layer of a down jacket that doesn’t tolerate detergents and fabric softeners, especially those that are not dedicated to them. So, if you want to keep your jacket in good shape for as long as possible, use special down cleaners (for both natural and synthetic fillings). We recommend brands such as Mountval, Grenders and Nikwax. Mild detergents (e.g. Jelp, Biały Jeleń etc.) available on the market can be used, too.

Be careful with a jacket with hydrophobic down. This is a really gentle lining, and you can only wash it using one cleaner - Nikwax Down Wash Direct.

Get your jacket ready

First of all, make sure your pockets are empty to avoid damaging your jacket or a washing machine. Zip up the main zip and all pockets, do up buttons and close Velcro fastenings. This will help your jacket  keep its shape during washing, and avoid breaking or damaging the fastenings during spin cycle.

Outsmart your washing machine

The amount of water used by modern washing machines is adjusted to the weight of load. This means that ultralight clothes are not rinsed thoroughly. Therefore, it is advisable to soak your jacket before washing or add a heavy item of garment to your washing.

Set the right wash cycle

Hands up who cuts care labels off your new clothes. They are irritating and itchy and after some time the print fades or is washed out, and none of the labels are useful anymore ... In fact, this is a huge mistake, as manufacturers put important information on the labels about the type of materials and washing symbols. So, you are lucky if you still have the label on your jacket. However, if you don't have one, use the universal guidelines. Set up a gentle wash cycle (e.g. hand-washing or wool cycle) with an extra rinse to rinse off all detergents. Wash your down garments at the temperature of 30.

After washing

Washing does not end up when you open the washing machine door. Then comes the drying, which is of great importance. There shouldn't be a problem if you have a tumble dryer. You will have to put your jacket in the tumble dryer and set it to a long cycle at low temperature.

If you don't have a tumble dryer, put the wet jacket flat on a drying rack in a well-ventilated room. This will take some time. When your jacket is dry, shake it off, turn it over and let it dry for the same amount of time as before. Nobody said it would be easy

Don't worry, if your down jacket seems to be a bit slimmer than before. Natural down lining compresses during washing and spinning, but it should return to its original shape after proper drying. If not, you will need to help it a little. Put the jacket  on a flat surface and  pat it gently in the areas where more down has gathered. The down should spread evenly.

Don't be afraid to wash your down jacket. If you do it according to our instructions, you will certainly help it rather than damage it. And if you have any doubts, please contact us. Pajaksport experts have vast knowledge in this subject and are always happy to share it with you.