How to wash a Down Jacket in Washing Machine?

Down Jackets are mostly used during winters to stay protected from cold weather.

It not only traps the heat but also keeps the wearer warm and comfortable. It’s the heat-trapping ability of the down jackets that makes them so popular and special.

Before you wash a Down Jacket you must understand what exactly a down jacket is? and what material it’s made up of? As you simply can’t wash anything in your washer directly.

Different clothes have different settings, therefore you should take the right approach to avoid any damage.

Let’s understand, what a down jacket is? and how to get a perfect wash?

What is a Down Jacket?

Down Jackets are jackets that use Duck OR Geese feathers as the insulating material. Using duck or geese feathers in a down jacket helps to trap the warm air, retain the heat and keep the wearer comfortable in cold weather.

So, the fluffiness that we see is due to the soft feathers that have been used as an insulating material. This soft inner filling not only makes the jacket fluffy but also creates tiny air pockets that trap the heat.

Since it makes use of feathers as an insulating material, washing becomes a difficult task as it could easily damage the fabric and insulation.

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Why wash a down jacket?

Washing your Jacket not only helps to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria but also keeps it fluffy.

Mold and bacteria tend to build up over time, especially if it’s been used in a wet and humid environment, therefore it’s extremely important to wash your jacket. Mold and bacteria not only reduce the fluffiness but also affects the warmth retention ability.

Getting a good wash restores the fluffiness and warmth retention capacity, which your jacket tends to lose over time.

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When should you wash a down jacket?

Since down coats are made up of delicate insulating material, washing them frequently can ruin them. It not only takes away the warmth retention capacity but also reduces the fluffiness and makes them look dull.

It’s always a good idea to wash your jacket when you notice the below symptoms:

  • Reduced Loft (Fluffiness)
  • Slight Discoloration
  • The build-up of mold and bacteria (Mostly black patches are visible).

Lastly, if you spend most of your time in a wet and humid environment, and if you wear your jacket daily, wash it at least once a month.

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How often should you wash a Down Jacket?

There isn’t any golden rule on the frequency of washing your jacket. The frequency to wash your jacket depends on the usage. For example, if you wear your jacket daily, then it makes a lot of sense to wash it 2 to 3 times a month. Likewise, if you wear it 2 to 3 times a week, washing it once a month should suffice.

The frequency will increase if you wear your jacket daily in a wet and humid environment as mold and bacteria tend to build up.

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How to wash a Down Jacket?

Before washing the jacket make sure you take a look at the label, as it may contain key information and the precautionary steps you need to take while washing.

To Wash a down-jacket you simply need a down-specific detergent, a down jacket zipped from all sides, and a Front-loading washing machine. It’s always best to wash a down jacket in a front loader as top-loaders with agitators may damage the jacket.

To wash a down jacket follow the below steps:

  • Make sure the jacket is empty and it does not have anything in the pocket.
  • Ensure zipping the jacket.
  • Put your jacket in the washer.
  • Wipe the detergent tray with a cloth.
  • Pour 100 ml down specific detergent if possible.
  • Select a delicate wash with a low spin setting.
  • After the first cycle completes, put your jacket through another rinse cycle in a delicate setting, as it helps to get rid of residue detergents left after the washing cycle.
  • The next step is to put your jacket in the dryer by selecting a low-temperature and delicate tumble setting.
  • Your jacket should be dry and fluffy in less than 2 hours.

If you are using a Top-Loader, make sure you choose the lowest possible settings as agitator-based washers can be hard on your jacket.

Lastly, don’t air dry the jacket as it leaves clumps. If you have the option of drying it in a dryer, use that option.

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What setting do you wash a down jacket on?

The ideal settings to wash a down jacket for a front-loading washing machine is as below:

  • Select the wash type as ‘Delicates’.
  • Temperature settings should be ‘Cold/Cold’.
  • The spin setting should be set as ‘Low Spin’.
  • Select the Soil level as normal.

For Top Loaders select the below settings:

  • Low Spin.
  • Delicate wash (If this option is available).
  • Always do a cold wash.

Note: In both cases try to stick with 1 or 2 Jacket maximum at one go for the best results.

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How do you dry a washed Down Jacket?

It’s always good to dry your down jacket in a dryer by selecting the following settings.

  • Low temperature.
  • Delicate tumble.
  • Select the drying time as 2 hours.

Try to avoid air-drying especially if you have the option to use a dryer.

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How do you fluff up a down jacket after washing it?

After washing the jacket avoid air drying it and use the dryer in low temperature and delicate tumble settings. This helps to avoid clumps and keeps your jacket fluffy.

Furthermore, avoid using fabric softeners unless the label on your jacket allows you to use one.

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How do you fix clumps in a down jacket?

There are two ways to fix clumps in a down jacket, one way is to pat the jacket with your hands until the clumps are gone OR to re-wash the jacket in delicate settings, followed by drying it in low temperature and delicate tumble setting.

Lastly, don’t air dry the jacket as it creates clumps and won’t do any good.

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Can you put down a jacket in the dryer?

Yes, it’s highly recommended that you use a dryer in low-temperature and delicate tumble settings for drying the jacket. Using a dryer not only helps to dry the jacket but also retains the fluffiness and avoids clumps.

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Is it better to dry clean or wash a down jacket?

Dry cleaning is not recommended for down materials, as the chemicals used may damage the surface. Furthermore, dry cleaning can not only damage the internal insulation but also reduce heat retention and service life.

It’s a safer bet to wash your down jacket in the washing machine as it helps to retain the fluffiness and enhances the service life.

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Why does my down jacket smell after washing?

Dampness is the primary reason why your down jacket smells unpleasant. So, when the down material gets wet and if it’s not dried properly, it tends to form dampness, which further gives rise to the build-up of mold and bacteria, thereby making your jacket smell.

Having said that, your down coat may smell unpleasant even when you overload the washer with other laundry items like socks and heavy bedsheets.

This happens because down material requires gentle settings, whereas bedsheets and socks have different settings altogether. Therefore, it works best when cleaned and dried alone.

Note: After you are done washing the down coat, don’t keep it wet for a long time. The longer you keep it wet, the higher will be the chances of it smelling.

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Is it bad to wash a down jacket?

No, On the contrary, you must wash your jacket at least once a month to maintain hygiene. If you wear it daily, and if you live in a wet and humid environment, it’s recommended to wash at least 2 to 3 times a month.

Having said that, if you wear it once or twice a week, washing it once a month should suffice.

Also, try to wash your jacket only in the washing machine as that’s the best practice to keep your jacket in good condition. Dry cleaning OR hand-wash may ruin the service life.

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How do you take care of a down jacket?

Down Jackets do not require any special care, just make sure you wash them once in a while by using down-specific detergents only. While washing, avoid using softeners as they will do more harm than good.

It’s always good to practice the below habits:

  • Do not wash it in High RPM settings.
  • Always Zip the washer before washing.
  • Try to avoid a warm OR hot wash.
  • Do not keep the jacket soaked OR wet for long hours as it attracts molds and bacteria.
  • If you are a moderate user, you wash it once a month.

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Final Thoughts

Down Jackets are delicate and require special attention while cleaning. It’s highly recommended to use down specific detergents for cleaning without losing effectiveness.

Furthermore, try to clean 1 jacket or a maximum of 2 jackets at a time without any additional laundry, try to make it a dedicated down jacket wash for best results.

Lastly, you don’t need to use a fabric softener while washing your jacket as it’s not needed and does not work well, especially with the down.