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5 Steps to Cleaning Down Jackets

Published: May 6, 2021
Down jackets should not be dry cleaned, but can be hand washed at home.
Down jackets should not be dry cleaned, but can be hand washed at home. (Image: Pexels via Pixabay)

Spring is here, and it’s time to wash and pack away winter clothes. Some winter wear can be damaged by drycleaning. Down jackets, for instance, are insulated with the soft, warm under-feathers from ducks or geese. These feathers can become brittle, break and fall out of the seams if exposed to the chemicals used in drycleaning. Fortunately, it is not difficult to wash them yourself. These five steps will keep your favorite coat functioning for years.

1. Soak

In a large tub of lukewarm water, add a small amount of gentle detergent (like Woolite) and submerge the down jacket for approximately fifteen minutes. To get rid of any odors or stains, add a tablespoon full white vinegar to your soak. After soaking, gently brush off any dirty spots with a soft bristle brush or a toothbrush so as not to cause damage to the fabric. Do not rub with your hands.

2. Rinse 

After brushing out the stains, submerge the down jacket in a tub of clean, cool water and press out the suds with both hands. Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with clean water and press the suds out again. Repeat this rinsing process until there are no suds left.

3. Dry

After rinsing out the detergent, gently squeeze out excess water from the jacket’s sleeves and body without wringing it. Keep doing this until the coat is no longer dripping wet. Press it between two towels to absorb excess water. Then place the garment in the dryer on a low heat setting, adding four dryer balls or tennis balls to fluff the feathers while drying. It will take two to three hours to dry thoroughly, depending on the weight of the coat.

4. Fluff

Remove the jacket from the dryer every thirty minutes, and fluff it with your hands. The garment will be dry when it is evenly fluffy and clump-free. For the final touch, lay the down jacket flat on a bed and lightly pat it with a coat hanger. Remember to pat all parts of the jacket gently.

5. Store

It’s best to hang your clean jacket uncompressed. If you press it into a garment bag or plastic wrap, the jacket will lose its “loft” or fluffiness. You may cover the top of the garment to protect it from dust and sunlight. This way your coat will stay clean and fresh for the next snowfall.

There is no reason to be intimidated by the confusing washing label instructions in the jacket. Following these simple steps will leave your down jacket clean, fluffy, and good as new. Try it and see!