How To Properly Care for Your Down Jacket

Oh the cozy feeling of wearing a down puffy jacket. It’s lightweight. It’s compactable, and it’s warm as ever. However, in order to keep your puffy in tip-top shape, it’s important to do a little maintenance from time to time. Here’s a look at how to care for your down jacket.

When Should I Wash My Down Jacket?

Washing your puffy jacket isn’t something you should do often. In fact, you should try to spot treat your jacket before committing to a full wash. Unless you’re living in your down puffy jacket, you only want to wash it once, maybe twice a year.

Washing a down jacket puts a lot of wear and tear on the jacket. The down loses its loft (which is what makes it so warm) and the seams take a beating.

If there are just a few dirty spots, perhaps a coffee stain and grimy cuffs, then try to spot treat it instead.

caring for your down jacket.
Unless your down jacket is filthy, consider spot-treating stains instead of a full wash.

How to Spot Treat a Down Jacket

Spot treating your down jacket is the best bet when it comes to combating stains. First, refer to the manufacturer’s label on the jacket prior to washing. Follow those instructions first to avoid ruining your down puffy.

Use a gentle spot-treatment on the areas that have the most grime. Gently hand wash the dirty spots and let those areas lay flat to dry.

You should not fully submerge the jacket in water, just aim to spot treat stains with a little bit of water (put it on a cloth to avoid over-soaking) and some gentle stain remover. Depending on the jacket, you may be able to use dish soap in a pinch.

Fully Washing a Down Puffy Jacket

If your jacket is totally nasty, then a full wash may be required. Simply follow the instructions for washing found on the label of your jacket. As a rule of thumb, avoid putting your down jacket in a top-loading washing machine. The agitator does a number on down and can ruin your jacket.

To dry, put in the dryer on low and tumble dry. You can put a dryer ball or tennis ball in there if you’d like to help pump up the loft. You don’t want to let your down jacket air dry – it’ll stink, so let the low setting work it’s magic. Again, always check this with the care label.

how to wash a down jacket
I may be filthy after living in a yurt, but I’m certainly warm!

Repairing a Down Jacket

Eventually, even the burliest down jackets snag a hole. Often time this is a small tear that leaks pesky feathers. The most important thing to remember about caring for your down jacket is don’t pull the feathers! You’ll end up pulling more than you’d like.

Instead, use a fork prong or other small, blunt object to gently push the feathers back in. Next, you’ll need a patch kit. Duct tape will work if you have nothing else, but this eventually wears out the fabric, causes stretch, and can make the hole worse.

Use the patch kit to cover the hole. Make sure to round off any corners you cut. This helps to keep the patch in place and not peel up. Use alcohol to wipe the area clean before applying the patch.

how to care for your down jacket
When it comes to how to care for your down jacket, always refer to the care label.

Storing and Caring for a Down Jacket

Down works the best it’s got that nice fluffy loft. Since down is an organic material, it does break down over time. However, one of the best things you can do to care for your down jacket is to store it properly.

Keep your puffy in a dry place, preferably hanging on a hanger with room to move around. Don’t leave it bunched up and compressed for days on end. This ruins the loft and makes the jacket less warm.

Of course, when you’re out on an adventure not smashing your puffy in your pack is tough to accomplish, but you can certainly let it sit out and re-fluff as often as possible.

Overall, caring for your down jacket is relatively simple. Just remember to let the jacket stay in its natural state and avoid over-cleaning your puffy. The result is a staple gear item that will last for years.

About the Author


Meg Atteberry

Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.