Down jackets are lifesaving additions to outdoor adventures and daily work. The feather-packed interior keeps wearers warm and able to do more outside for longer periods of time. After regular use, the durability of jackets can be greatly reduced. If yours has a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) finish, this can become less effective as grime, body oil, and other debris build up. The fluffy look of your down jacket may become flat and dull over time. Restore the effectiveness and appearance of it with our easy how-to guide.

1. Choose your Cleaning Method

If you’d rather not deal with washing your down jacket or if you have multiple to wash, you may prefer heading to a professional down cleaner. These folks specialize in getting down jackets looking brand new once again.

However, you might just want to get it done at home, which is equally as effective. You’ll need a front-load washer, as a top-load’s agitator will damage the feathers. Laundromats will also have these types of washers.

2. Address Tough Spots and Stains

Before getting your jacket into the wash, you’ll need to treat stains and worn-in spots. Use a down-specific cleaner—Nikwax Down Wash Direct and Granger’s Down Wash are two great ones—and water solution to spray onto these areas. Once the solution is fully mixed together (half and half will work well), spray it onto stains, dried sweat, and other spots. Leave it to soak in for 30 minutes before placing in the washing machine.

3. Machine Washing

When you’re ready to put the jacket into the wash, use cold water only. Hot water could damage the outer shell. Use the down-specific detergent here as well. Don’t risk damaging your jacket with normal detergent. The down-specific options are designed to preserve the natural oils of the feathers, which is what makes them fluffy. Normal detergent will make the down brittle and weak, thus ruining your jacket. After the wash, ensure it’s fully rinsed. This could take two rinse cycles to get all the soap out of the feathers.

Absolutely no fabric softeners or bleach for your jacket!

4. Machine Drying

Use low heat to dry your down jacket with tennis balls to help rejuvenate the fluffiness. The jacket must be fully dry—dampness will result in staleness. When dry, turn it inside out and hang it in a ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

When it’s time to store your down jacket for the season, keep it in a dry area where it can breathe. Stuffing it into plastic bags or down in the basement won’t do. It was an investment when you bought it, so keep it working well and looking great by following our easy guide.

Todd Askins