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How to Wash Down & Synthetic Insulated Jackets & Clothing

Down and synthetic insulated jackets have become a staple in the closet of nearly everyone who spends time in the outdoors, and they’re great around the city, too. With these jackets being the go-to for nearly every trip outside of the house, they can get dirty, so what is the best way to wash and dry down and synthetic jackets? These jackets aren’t cheap so make sure you follow the guidelines below to get the most out of your garment.

How to wash a down jacket.

How to Wash a Down Jacket?

  1. Open all zippered pockets, zip front zipper
  2. Choose a down-safe detergent
  3. Wash on gentle cycle for top-loading washing machines, and regular for front-loading, with warm water
  4. Dry on low heat for 30 minutes
  5. Add tennis balls to the dryer for 5 minutes to help increase fluff and loft

Washing down jackets is not as hard as it might seems - follow a couple of basic rules and you don’t have to worry about ruining your favorite jacket. These are general guidelines that can be followed for most down garments, however, it is always a good idea to consult the label on the jacket, and the manufacturer for the best results.

Prior to putting anything in the washing machine, it’s a good idea to check the pockets, down jackets are no exception. Unzipping all of the zippered pockets will make sure that they don’t fill with water like a water balloon, and washing your down jacket with the front zipper shut will lead to a more gentle wash.

Now that you’re ready to wash, make sure to wash ay technical clothing by itself, or with only one or two like items - you don’t want to be mixing your down jacket in with your regular laundry. Follow the instructions on your down-safe detergent to select the water temperature and cycle. In general, we recommend the warm, not hot or cold, water on a regular or gentle cycle.

How to Dry Down Jackets & Clothing?

Heat is necessary to dry your down jackets and gear, however, you want to be extra careful that you don’t overheat your jacket while drying. Too much heat can damage the down insulation. This doesn't mean, however, that you can't put down jackets in the dryer.

To dry your down jacket, set your dryer to the low setting and dry for about 30 minutes. If your jacket is still not dry, you can hang dry it until it is, or put it back in the dryer for an additional 20 minutes - but resist the urge to turn up the heat - patience is key. Adding some clean tennis balls to the dryer with your down jacket for five to ten minutes will help break up any clumps of down, increasing the loft and making your jacket nice and puffy.

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What Detergent to Use When Washing Down Jackets & Clothing?

When washing down, it’s important to always use a down-safe detergent and to never use regular laundry detergent to wash a down jacket. Several outdoors companies like NikWax for example, make specific detergents that are guaranteed not to damage the feathers. Regular laundry detergents can strip away the natural oils in the down, making it clumpy and less fluffy.

How to Wash Synthetic Insulated Jackets?

Washing jackets with synthetic insulation isn’t all that different than washing down jackets, still here are a couple of guidelines. Follow a similar procedure to washing down jackets: 1) open zippered pockets and close front zipper 2) wash alone or with only similar garments 3) use a specialty detergent for technical gear and fabrics 4) dry on low and use tennis balls to increase loft.

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How Often Should You Wash Your Down Jacket?

Obviously, you should wash your insulated jackets when they get dirty or smelly. With outdoor gear, it can be hard to tell when it’s dirty, however. This means that it’s a good idea to wash your down and synthetic jackets regularly - there are even some added positive side effects from washing, too. Washing your down jackets can help to reinvigorate the insulation, making them puffier and warmer. Plus if your jacket has a waterproof membrane or coating, this can also be rejuvenated by washing and drying. We recommend washing insulated jackets and clothing at least every 4 months.

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