How To Care For Your Down Jacket

For those travelling to very cold conditions, wearing down can be of huge benefit. Down has exceptional insulating properties, trapping air between the filaments, keeping you cozy and warm.  

It’s ideal for jackets and sleeping bags, as it offers plenty of insulation for so little bulk and weight. So, considering how essential your men’s ski jacket is, and how often you may use it, let me ask you this… when was the last time you washed it?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

A down garment will start to lose its loft if it’s not properly cared for. Unfortunately, this can compromise the quality of the water resistancy (if applicable) and affect the insulation quality also. Whether you own a men’s ski jacket or a women’s ski jacket, you’ll still need to clean it after every season. The last thing you need when travelling to very cold and snowy conditions is a jacket that’s meant to be uber warm, but isn’t. Brrr!

Washing a down jacket is more important than you might think. In this post, we’ll show you how to wash your winter clothes. See our post on How To Wash Ski Gear for more great tips.

HOW TO WASH DOWN JACKET AT HOME

Down WashThrough general wear of your down jacket, dirt, body oils, and sweat can build up, affecting the overall fabric and structure of the insulation properties. Basically, if the fabric absorbs water this can easily transfer into the down. This leads to the fill clumping together and your jacket losing its loft and effectiveness of insulation, as the down can no longer trap the air.  

So what can you do to minimise any problems with your jacket? Answer: Carefully wash and dry it with the appropriate products. That’s exactly how to wash a down jacket. Snowcentral stocks a product called Nikwax Down Wash. It’s a wash-in cleaner for down filled items. The down wash detergent safely revitalises insulation, Durable Water Repellency (DWR), and breathability of your down item. You don’t need a down jacket cleaning service or a down jacket waterproof spray, but you can send it for cleaning if you’d like to dry clean your winter coat or dry clean your down jacket.

The main point of reference for washing your jacket can be found ON your jacket. Check the manufacturer’s care tags. But for now, here’s a general rundown of steps for washing your down item. It takes a while to wash and thoroughly dry down, so find something fun to do in the meantime. TV series marathon anyone??

Can You Machine Wash A Down Filled Jacket?

Yes you can! Use a front loading washing machine. (A top loader’s central agitator may damage your outer fabric.)

  1. Remove all detergent build up from the machine’s detergent dispenser. If you feel it’s needed, run a hot wash through an empty machine first, to ensure the drum of the machine is clean too.
  2. Do up all zips and close all velcro, flaps and tabs. Check there is nothing in the pockets. Dust off any dirt on your jacket, and place in the machine (maximum 1 item).
  3. Use 3 full caps (150mls) in hard water* areas, or 2 full caps (100mls) in soft water areas.
  4. Wash according to the garment’s care label – on a gentle cycle with a slow spin is recommended.  

How About Hand Washing?

  1. Wearing gloves, completely immerse the item in warm water (approx 30 degrees) in a bath or large tub. Use 3 full caps (150mls) in hard water* areas, or 2 full caps (100mls) in soft water areas.
  2. Agitate to mix, leave to soak for 5-10 minutes, then agitate thoroughly again.
  3. Rinse clothing thoroughly in cold water until water runs clear. For sleeping bags, repeat process a second time, drain and gently press bag to expel water. Do not wring your down garment.

How Do You Fix A Down Jacket After Washing It?

Drying down jacketIt is extremely important to ensure your item is very thoroughly dried. Even if you washed your items by hand, gently spin drying in your washing machine is recommended to get the maximum amount of water out of your garment. It is best to spin dry a few times (3 is good!), each time incrementally increasing the speed of the spin cycle. If items are spun too quickly while still holding a large amount of water, it is possible that internal baffles/sections may be broken.

Drying Your Down Jacket

Once the excess water is removed, tumble drying on a low heat is then recommended to ensure that the down is dried thoroughly and as quickly as possible. Leaving down wet or damp can ruin it completely.  Remember to check the manufacturer’s care label on the item to ensure it’s safe to be put in the dryer. Do not be tempted to set the dryer to a high heat as you risk melting the seams and outer shell fabric. Do not dry your jacket by hanging it over a heater as this can also damage it.

Ensure that there is sufficient room in the tumble drier to house the item once dry, as items will return to their original size during the drying process. If you find that your down jacket clumps after washing, regularly remove the item from the dryer to give it a few good shakes/fluffs to assist in breaking up the clumps during the drying process – this will help restore loft to the down and you’ll be able to dry your down jacket without tennis balls.

Another tip for drying is to add a few tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer. It stops the feathers from clumping together and helps to re-fluff the down. Ensure the jacket is 100% dry.

* hard water: If your kettle furs up, you have hard water.

REPAIRS

The outer fabric of your jacket probably isn’t overly durable and thick.  Small (or large…eeek!) rips from general wear and tear, tree branches, or ski/snowboard edges are bound to happen at some point. You might start to find feathers leaking out slowly, which obviously means your insulation is compromised. This needs to be repaired as soon as you can. Find yourself some repair tape (nylon fabric) or even some fabric glue will do the trick. It’s a terrible idea to sew the hole closed, as you’re introducing new holes at each stitch. Cut the tape to a size that covers a decent amount of margins around the hole/tear, ensuring the tape is firmly adhered.

Repair tape 2Luckily, Snowcentral stocks a couple of different options of nylon repair tape, our friendly team can help you out with these options, and provide you with tips on applying it. It’s a great idea to have some with you while travelling, in case you need it.  This tape is also valuable for repairing tears in other outerwear items (snow pants, for example).

STORING AND PACKING YOUR JACKET

It’s important to remember not to stuff your down jacket into your luggage or bag for an extended period of time, if possible. The feathers can eventually stick together and clump, leaving the insulation patchy, and leaving you out in the cold – literally!  If you can wear or carry your jacket during travels, or keep it on a hanger (rather than rolled up or stuffed into a bag), that will assist in the lifespan of your toasty warm jacket.

If you’re interested in seeing what down jackets are available through Snowcentral, shop online here now. Click on the Men’s or Women’s clothing tab above this post.