Tips on How to Wash a Down Jacket
A lot of people are reluctant to wash down jackets out of fears that the material will degrade or become damaged. Others struggle with removing residual moisture that can lead to foul odors or the formation of mold or mildew. The reality is that washing down jackets isn't a difficult process as long as you follow some basic steps.
Use Gentle Detergent
One of the reasons that down jackets smell funny after washing is because detergents don't get completely rinsed. They soak through feathers and lining, dry out and then leave a permanent scent that is often unpleasant. Using unscented and very gentle detergent will help to alleviate this problem as these products are more likely to be completely-rinsed away. You can also purchase detergents that are specifically-made for down products, and these are arguably the best to use.
Use Front Loading Washers
Front loading washers tend to be gentler than top loaders, and you will reduce the chances of damaging the jacket. It is also thought that the vertical as opposed to horizontal spin cycle helps to keep the material from bunching up, which can lead to more-uniform drying.
Because down material can bunch up and become super-absorbent, high heat cycles are not always able to penetrate these dense spots. High heat can also damage the feathers, dry out the lining and cause seams to fray or tear. Be patient and let the material dry on low heat, and fluff up the jacket periodically throughout each cycle. Chances are that you will need to run a few cycles before the jacket completely dries as well.
Use Tennis or Spiked Dryer Balls
Tennis or dryer balls will help to break up dense spots of material, speed up the overall drying process and do much of the fluffing for you. The general rule of thumb is to use three balls per jacket, and only dry one jacket at a time.
Avoid Fabric Softeners
As long as you wash and dry your jacket carefully, the down will retain its bounce and softness. Using fabric softener can actually weigh down the feathers and cause them to stick together. Not only that, but the scents from the fabric softener can linger and get stale, which may produce unpleasant odors later on. Finally, fabric softener can interfere with the drying of the feathers as the coating they produce can inhibit evaporation.
Try these suggestions for yourself, and chances are that you'll be happy with the results. As long as you are patient and gentle when it comes to cleaning and drying, chances are that you will be able enjoy wearing a fresh and comfortable jacket for years to come.