Gear Guides: Washing Your Down Jacket

Down has great properties for creating warm outdoor gear: light, packable, and very effective at trapping air to insulate you from the cold. That’s why the humble down jacket is an adventure staple for times you’ll need to keep snug and cosy. Through the winter months it’s often the first thing we reach for, whether for a frosty morning commute to SportPursuit HQ or a winter escape to the mountains.

A versatile down jacket will also get a lot of use – your outdoor activities and trips all take their toll on your dear old down. Dirt, sweat, moisture and abrasion are facts of life for a well-used piece of gear, and this can affect the performance of your insulation. Never fear! With a few simple steps you can keep your jacket fresh and working well.

Dirt and damp can cause your down to ‘clump’ and affect its performance. Use our simple care tips to rescue even extreme cases.

Simple Steps for Washing Your Down Jacket

  • For best results, use a down-specific detergent such as Nikwax or Grangers, avoid washing powders.
  • Make sure your washing machine is clean of previous detergents. If possible, use a front-loading washing machine – if you are using a top-loading machine it’s worth putting your jacket in a net washing bag to protect it.
  • Close all the zips and turn the jacket inside-out, and wash according to the care label (30 degrees is usually recommended).
  • Dry your jacket thoroughly to renew to loft (insulation-providing fluffiness). Shake off excess water and gently pull any clumps of down apart, then add to a tumble drier on a low heat with 2-3 clean tennis balls.
  • During the drying, regularly take the jacket out and shake it to distribute the down evenly – small clumps may need to be gently pulled apart as before.
A quick summary on how to wash your down jacket from Bergans.

Extra Tips for Down Maintenance

Once you’ve gone through the proper washing process, a few small tips can help to keep your jacket performing well through all your adventures.

  • Store your jacket hanging to maintain the loft – keeping it in a stuff sack when you’re back from a trip may compact the down over time.
  • After using your jacket for high-tempo activities or in damp conditions, make sure to properly dry and air it (this can also help reduce campfire and sweaty odours!)
  • It’s completely normal for down feathers to occasionally poke through small holes in the fabric. If this does happen, it’s important not to pull the feathers through the jacket. Instead, try to pull the feather back inside the jacket and gently rub the affected area between your fingers. This will move the fabric strands back together and help seal up the tiny hole that has developed.

If your jacket is truly on its last legs, consider passing it on to a cause that needs it or recycling it through a service like ReGain. Maybe it’s time for a new down jacket!