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I fu&$ed up- washed and dried my down jacket


Original Post
germsauce Epstein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 55

I threw my Rab down jacket into a washer dryer cycle..  as you might imagine as you are shaking your head and tut tutting,  all the down is clumped at one end of the baffles.   Tricks to redistribute the down?  Putting it back in the dryer with a few tennis balls could work. I want to make sure that’s the best course of action.

Blakevan · · Dallas, TX · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 55

Dyer with tennis balls works mostly in my experience. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

I don't think putting your down jacket in the washing machine is so wrong. Gentle cycle, appropriate down wash/detergent. Even if you wash it manually in a bathtub, it's going to clump up.

Knead the clumps by hand a few times while it's drying. You could do the tennis ball thing on no or low heat. You'll be fine if you take the time to manually redistribute the feathers.

What are the washing instructions on the label?

Alex Quinn · · Golden, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

I'd watch this. He starts talking about drying at 5:55 or so.


Mike McL · · South Lake Tahoe, CA · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 1,610

Dryer on low heat with a few tennis balls works great.  It will take longer than you think but it works very well.  I've washed many down jackets this way.  Only difference was down specific detergent.  

I've found this works very well:

1.  Wash it on gentle cycle with a down specific detergent in a machine that doesn't have an agitator (you don't want to rip the baffles)
2.  Extra rinse & spin cycle to get all of the detergent out
3.  Dry on low heat with tennis balls until all of the down is completely unclumped.  Like I said could take longer than you think.  

Ryan M Moore · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 35

Alternately, beating it with a wiffle ball bat like it owes you money is great stress relief.

Stiles · · the Mountains · Joined May 2003 · Points: 840

Regular soap takes the coating off the down tendrils that keeps them full and fluffy. Your jacket is toast. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 1,030

I think you aren’t losing anything by throwing that jacket back into the dryer on low heat with several tennis balls. Try pulling the larger clumps apart with your fingers before throwing them into the dryer.

FYI for the future, there are special washes for down, like Nikwax, that are better than regular detergents. 

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

FWIW, when there is an oil spill the soap uses to clean birds and other animals is dish soap like Dawn. However, it should not be used in the laundry unless you like to watch a washing machine foam up and overflow.

For the OP, as you figured out and others have said tennis balls work well. One can also toss in a clean shoe such as Converse Tennis shoe. Also, as said above, pulling the clumps apart by hand helps speed things up. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800
Stiles wrote: Regular soap takes the coating off the down tendrils that keeps them full and fluffy. Your jacket is toast. 

Nonsense. Folks have been washing down gear for decades.

Drew Nevius · · Oklahoma · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 1,698

In addition to tennis balls, I add 2-3 clean dry towels to the dryer cycle to help absorb extra moisture. If you’re saying you already dried your jacket, you might just need the to put it with tennis balls in the dryer without heat, but a couple towels wouldn’t hurt in that case either

Nick Gibson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 0

I had the same issue with my down jacket last time I washed it, but just in a few spots. Tennis balls in the dryer helps, but you really have to take it out towards the end of the drying when it's still wet and clumped in a few spots, manually pull apart the clumped down, and throw it back in with the tennis balls. May have to repeat a few times. After doing this, my down jacket came out much more puffy than before I washed it.
Also, you may want to use a lower heat setting on the dryer. 
Good luck!

Stiles · · the Mountains · Joined May 2003 · Points: 840
Gunkiemike wrote:

Nonsense. Folks have been washing down gear for decades.

  • Soap ruins down. Not really all that debatable.

A few minutes research goes a long way...

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

Here are some tips on washing down garments: http://featheredfriends.com/washing/

•Use down soap such as Nikwax Down Wash or ReviveX Down Cleaner Concentrate. These specially formulated cleaners will help to preserve the natural oils in the down while still getting your item clean and restoring its loft. In a pinch, you can use mild, non-detergent soap diluted with water. Never use bleach, bleach-alternatives or fabric softener.

The key if not using a down specific cleaner that one uses a non-detergent soap like Woolite.

germsauce Epstein · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 55

I may be safe because we use the hippy laundry soap. and I ordered some tennis balls.  Hopefully, this jacket is still as warm as it was when it's all done.  I've worn it a few times and the down actually seems to be redistributing a bit on it's own.  And i'll give a plug for RAB here because it's the best down I've ever owned. 

Mark Frumkin · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 1

I wash my down coats several times a year, and have been for at least 45 years. Let it dry naturally and shake it out. Do yourself a favor & don't put it in the dryer.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Mark Frumkin wrote: Let it dry naturally and shake it out. Do yourself a favor & don't put it in the dryer.

Rab, the manufacturer of the jacket in the OP disagrees. From their web site:


Rab down products can be home cleaned, however, this is a difficult and time-consuming job as the drying process can take several hours. Please give it careful consideration before starting; box wall garments and sleeping bags may require you to redistribute the down after washing. Allow at least 3-4 hours for a jacket and 6-8 hours for a sleeping bag.
1) Hand or machine wash on a gentle 40º cycle with Nikwax Down Wash Direct, NOT DETERGENT.

2) Rinse to make sure there is no soap residue present within the product. If you are cleaning a box walled product, when removing it from the washing machine ensure that the weight of the item is supported by ‘cradling’ it in a bath towel or similar. Failure to do so may result in damage to the down compartments.

3) Immediate tumble drying should commence in a commercial dryer on a cool setting. Remove the item from the dryer every half hour, manipulating the down within the baffles to restore loft. Avoid the temptation to remove the item from the dryer too soon. Although the outer fabrics may feel dry and warm to the touch, down contained within the baffling can still be clumped because of moisture. Drying time varies depending on the jacket style and size but can take anywhere from 2-5 hours.

4) When finished it is advisable to store uncompressed in a dry, cool place. Airing should continue for two days before use. Failure to allow enough time for the item to dry will result in a flat looking garment that will need to be re-washed and dried again.
Mark Frumkin · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 1

No way in h_ll am I putting anything I care about in a public commercial dryer.

Tim Lutz · · Colo-Rado Springs · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 5

I've had good results by doing the steps above and placing a fan on low (for like 24 hours) under the zipped jacket with cuffs tied with rubber bands.  

This forces air through the baffles and puffs the down

matt riesland · · Running Springs, CA · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 0

Been washing down for years and it turns out BETTER than new. Hand wash with Nikwax, hot water in the sink. be sure to agitate and press all of the air out of the down. Agitate plenty and use enough soap for suds and make sure all of the air is pressed out of the down.

Rinse thoroughly with cold water

Top loading washer: place garment evenly in the bottom of the tub. Gentle cycle Spin cycle twice. Rinse again in cold water. (garment must be rinsed really well. You don't want soap residue) Spin three more times(this is key to remove Almost ALL of the water.)

After multiple spins the garment will have very little water in it. Dry low heat, front loading dryer works fine. Tennis balls? Here is something better: Stuff two socks into one sock. Tie off sock to make a ball. Repeat. Check often. If you are melting things like zipper slides then you have way too much heat. Check often and remove garment and shake it, fluff it, and check for clumps. dry in short periods. Check, fluff, shake until perfection achieved.

Garments done this way are very puffy, soft, and warm. I've washed my down about 15 times like this and its still better than new.    

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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