With the right care, your down jacket and sleeping bag can last for years and years. Here's how to wash, dry (the complicated bit) and care for your down jackets and sleeping bags:
Definitely, yes! Down gear that's looked after performs better for longer. A little bit of effort in the short term will keep you warmer in the long term.
When your down gets mucky, it loses its fluffiness and the baffles (down chambers) flatten. It's this fluffy loft that keeps you warm, so keeping your down clean is essential to staying warm and cosy inside.
It depends on how often you use it. Nowadays, plenty of people wash their down gear at the end of each season in preparation for the next year. In the past, washing your down gear was an act of absolute last resort – which led to some very ripe smelling jackets and stinky sleeping bags.
You may also need to wash your down jacket or sleeping bag after it's gotten damp or seriously wet. When down gets damp, the fluffy filaments flatten and clump together. Don't worry – your down isn't ruined! But you do need to wash and dry it properly to restore its warmth-trapping loft.
A large tumble dryer is essential. You can air dry your down equipment but it's much less effective. Air drying takes a long time and you will have to constantly agitate the down as it dries to ensure that it doesn't clump.
A large capacity washing machine (10 kg) or a bath for hand washing
You'll need specialist down wash products. We recommend:
Nikwax® Down Wash™, Grangers® Down Wash or Liquid Soap Flakes
Nikwax® Down Proof™ or Grangers® Down Repel (optional)
Clean tennis balls or Grangers® Wash Balls
Handwashing causes less stress to the fabrics and the stitching of your down gear. If you share a house with other people, make sure you negotiate an appropriate time slot though as this may take some time!
IMPORTANT: Do NOT wring or squeeze the bag, this will damage the down.
We recommend using a large capacity front loading washing machine (over 10kg capacity), especially for bags with over 1,000g of down – the bigger the bag the more capacity you'll need. (A standard household washing machine usually has a capacity of under 7kg).
Run a quick empty wash cycle to thoroughly clean the drawer of any detergent or fabric conditioners.
Set the machine to a gentle cycle at 30°C and fill the drawer with the recommended quantity of Nikwax® or Grangers® Down Wash (this will depend on the weight of the bag/number of jackets).
After the wash cycle is complete, rinse your jacket or sleeping bag thoroughly.
You can protect your down from damp conditions and replenish any existing durable water repellent treatment (DWR) by treating it with Nikwax® Down Proof™ or Grangers® Down Repel.
We treat the outer fabrics of all our down jackets and sleeping bags with a PFC Free DWR to protect the down from damp. We also use DownTek™ PFC-free hydrophobic down for our Fantom jacket, and 750FP goose down sleeping bags.
Yes - and we recommend that you do. Proper drying is the most important part of the whole process as it stops your down from clumping together. Your down needs to be dried thoroughly, slowly and with regular fluffing to regain its original loft. Here's how:
IMPORTANT: Your bag will be extremely heavy after washing so take care when you lift it out to avoid putting any stress on the seams.
It can take as long as 48 hours to air/drip dry your down jacekt or sleeping bag. A really, really, really long time. If you want to go for it, here's how:
IMPORTANT: Do not just throw your bag over the washing line and leave it to drip dry overnight.
With the prices involved in purchasing waterproofs and down items, we know that washing them yourself can sometimes be a bit daunting. Never mind the fact that you need a bigol’ tumble drier too!
At our professional cleaning service at our Ambleside store, we will be using Nikwax® cleaning products and can wash and dry: waterproof jackets & trousers, insulated jackets, sleeping bags, expedition suits and salopettes.
“Gear that is looked after performs better and lasts longer. With our down wash and reproofing service we can restore the natural loft of your down sleeping bags, fluff up your down jackets and reproof your waterproofs.”.
Prices from £30 excluding postage. Here's all the details about sending your down jacket and sleeping bag to us for a spruce up.
Down items can lose their loft if you store them compressed for a long time or in damp conditions. And then you'd need to wash and dry them all over again which wouldn't be good for your electricity bill! Here's how to look after your down to avoid washing for as long as possible:
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