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How to Wash Your Down Jacket

Author: Outdoor Research

October 29, 2015

As an outdoorsperson, your down jacket is likely one of your most prized possessions. But living in your down (something we’re all guilty of in the winter) inevitably exposes your favorite jacket to grimy, gritty dirt. Even that post-climb beer  — or three — sometimes results in a little unintended spillage.

To keep your prized puffy working well and lasting year after dirt-filled year, it’s essential to wash your down layers. Daunting, we know. But it’s not as overwhelming as it seems. With a little know-how and a little specialized wash — like Nikwax Down Wash Direct™ — your down jacket will come out looking like new and performing as well as it did the first time you put it on.

Why wash your down jacket?

Face fabrics that make up the exterior of your jacket are sometimes treated with a durable water resistant (DWR) finish. This coating is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water to keep the lofty, luscious down feathers protected from their kryptonite: water. But while a DWR treatment is a barrier, dirt, body oils, abrasions and regular use will reduce its performance. Even if your down jacket isn’t treated with a DWR finish, washing your down jacket can rejuvenate the insulation.

Below: A dirty, grimy down jacket (left side) and a clean, rejuvenated down jacket (right side)

“With heavy, weekly use of your down, we recommend washing your jacket once a month,” says Melanie Sirirot, Outdoor Research Apparel Product Manger.

Some companies recommend sending down jackets to a professional down cleaner. But we know DIY is A-OK.

Here’s how to wash your down jacket at home:

Additional notes: Do not use bleach, fabric softeners or an iron on your down jacket. Bleach and fabric softeners can damage the fabric and an iron will, well, burn or melt it. Remember the ol’ battle of down vs. campfire? It never turns out well ...

Shop Nikwax Down Wash here.

Top photo by Elise Giordano.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research® is dedicated to inspiring the journey ahead with award-winning technical apparel and accessories. Based in Seattle since 1981, we are committed to improving our customer’s experience through innovative materials, purpose-driven features, and versatile products that are backed by our Infinite Guarantee®. We rely on the real-world testing of our athlete ambassadors, mountain guides, and local adventurers involved in our core sports: alpinism, rock and ice climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling, trail running, and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. We’re here for the fun, adventure, excitement, and For the Journey Ahead™. Get to know us at or follow along on the journey via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.