It's officially the season for being bundled up in a thick, warm coat on a chilly evening, and a good down jacket is perfect for winter weather. Down jackets are made to last for years, but occasionally we need to give them back a little love. You might be wondering how to take care of your go-to coat, so we've brought you the ultimate guide to how to wash a down jacket.
What is a down jacket?
A down jacket is a jacket which has been insulated with the soft, warm under feathers from ducks or geese. Down is a fantastic insulator as the loft (or fluffiness) of down feathers create hundreds of tiny air pockets which trap warm air and retain heat, thus helping to keep the wearer very warm in cold winter weather.
When to wash a down jacket
Firstly, you should only be washing a down jacket, or any coat, when you really need to. Washing down jackets too often can weaken and accelerate the natural decomposition of the down feathers, so it's best to be infrequent with your washing. We recommend washing these jackets maybe once a year, but if your coat has no visible marks or odours, you don't need to wash it!
For visible dried on dirt or stains, like mud or food, try brushing your down jacket with a clothes brush - this'll mean you don't have to wash it immediately.
Our Natural Bristle Clothes Brush is perfect for use on all outerwear to keep it looking fabulous between washes, and you'll be amazed at what it can brush away!
How to wash a down jacket
Step 1 - As mentioned earlier, you'll want to remove any exterior dirt with a Clothes Brush. If you're just wearing your down jacket for a trip to the shops, it's unlikely to get too dirty, but if you're wearing it for hiking, horse-riding or trekking up mountains, you'll probably need to brush it down between each adventure.
Step 2 - Prep your jacket. It may sound obvious, but make sure to remove any keys or coins from the pockets, as this can wreak havoc on your washing machine. Plus, make sure to zip up the zips and fasten any Velcro fastenings, just to make sure these features don't catch or snag the coat fabric.
Step 3 - Find the right detergent. You'll want something that provides a powerful clean without damaging the down. Grab our Eco Wash for Sportswear, which is great at cleaning your performance fabrics without damaging the specialist qualities your synthetics have. Plus, it's scented with deodorising eucalyptus and lemongrass, so your jacket will stay smelling fresh for longer.
Step 4 - Machine wash a down jacket. Often we recommend hand washing your treasured garments for a gentler clean that's better for the environment. However, for a down jacket, a machine wash is best. This is because, thanks to all the tiny air pockets amongst the feathers, it'd be tricky to firstly distribute the detergent amongst all the layers of feathers by hand, and then tricky to properly wash out the product again. Stick to the washing machine this time!
Wash at a cool temperature, 30 degrees is best, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to add an extra rinse to make sure no detergent is left in the down.
Our top tip: Stay away from the fabric conditioner! Fabric softener is the enemy of de-wicking or water resistant fabrics, so put the bottle down!
Another top tip: Wash a down jacket with a laundry egg, or a tennis ball! It sounds odd, but adding a tennis ball to the washing cycle will help prevent the down from clumping up and going lumpy inside the fabric. Trust us!
How to dry a down jacket
Your jacket will likely still be quite wet when it comes out of the washer; remember, there are hundreds of feathers in there that'll need to dry.
We've found the best way to dry your down jacket so it's just as fluffy as before is to start off drying the jacket by laying it flat on a drying rack for a couple of hours - put a towel underneath to catch drips! Once the worst of the moisture is gone, we recommend putting the jacket on a gentle tumble drier cycle. Again, add a tennis ball to keep the down from clumping.
If your jacket is not tumble drier safe (remember, always check the care label) you can dry it on a radiator - just go and shake it up every few hours to avoid clumping.
There you go, you now have all the know-how to wash a down jacket at home, plus, this works for synthetic down too! Got any more questions? Pop us a message over on Instagram (@clothesdoctoruk) with any laundry queries. Plus, shop our full range of detergents and clothing care tools to become a laundry pro!