Down & Dirty: Guide to Cleaning Your Down Jacket

Down & Dirty: Guide to Cleaning Your Down Jacket

Your down jacket has kept you warm for many winters, but now it's looking a bit flat and dirty... Don't throw it away! You can easily clean it at home. In this post, we'll show you how to wash a down jacket, coat, or vest so that it looks and feels like new. 

Wash & Dry

Over time, down garments can become dirty and weighed down, decreasing their loft and warmth. This is because dirt, oils from our skin, and residue from using the wrong soap can cling to the plumes in down clothing. Washing down clothing with a gentle down detergent can remove these contaminants, restoring the light and fluffy properties of the plumes, and making it warm again!

What you need

  • Down Cleaner (we recommend Nikwax Down Wash, but anything similar will also work)
  • Front-Loading Washing Machine or Top Loader Without Agitator (or a Sink/Tub for handwash method)
  • Machine Dryer
  • Wool Dryer Balls (or Tennis Balls!)
  • Optional: Toothbrush

Handwash Method

  1. Check the clothing's care instructions and close all zippers and velcro tabs.
  2. Fill sink or tub with just enough warm water to submerge the item.
  3. Add Down Cleaner of your choice.
  4. Compress clothing to remove air and place in the soapy water.
  5. Rinse item repeatedly until water runs clear (at least 3 times)
  6. Gently compress or roll clothing to expel water (do not wring)
  7. Roll item in a towel or place in washing machine for two spin cycles to remove excess water before drying.

Pro Tip: Use a toothbrush for spot cleaning the collar if necessary.

Machine Wash Method

  1. Add Down Cleaner to the washing machine as per directions.
  2. Wash with cold or warm water on gentle cycle. Do not add fabric softener.
  3. Run an additional spin cycle to speed dry time.
  4. Optional: Waterproof your jacket as needed with a Down Waterproofing Agent (we use Nikwax Down Proof)

For cleaning larger down items see our blog post on how to wash down sleeping bags, which also has instructions on how to waterproof your down gear.


  1. Dry garment by itself in a dryer so it has room to tumble freely.
  2. Add some dryer balls (or tennis balls) to help break up the down clumps. Use heat setting recommended by garment care label (usually low to medium heat)
  3. Check periodically to ensure the shell fabric is drying properly.
  4. Hang and inspect jacket to be sure it is completely dry.

Pro Tip: Store down items at their highest loft possible. Compressing down jackets and sleeping bags into tight bags for long-term storage will degrade the loft.


After washing and drying your down puffy jacket, use peel-and-stick Repair Tape (we use Tenacious Tape) to fix leaking down feathers and rips instantly.

Down Cleaner makes it easy to clean your down gear at home. No need to pay for expensive dry cleaning or wait weeks for your jacket to be returned. You can restore your down gear's loft and warmth in just a few hours.

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