This is the time of year when I enjoy the toasty warmth of my feather-stuffed jacket, but I’ve brushed against the dirty, salt-spattered car one too many times in it lately. Since dry-cleaning is costly, I’m going to launder my cozy outerwear at home. Lucky for me, I have a front-loading washing machine to do the job—since it doesn’t have an agitator in the middle, the stitching that holds the down in place won’t be at risk of stretching, weakening, or breaking. If you have a feather-filled jacket, coat, or vest but don’t have a front-loading washing machine, you can still clean your down without losing any fluff from the feathers. Here’s a few handy hints to get you going:
- Your bathtub is the perfect place to hand wash a down jacket. Just fill the tub with warm water and a gentle soap, and immerse your down, swishing it around until it no longer balloons out of the water. Let it soak for a few minutes to loosen the dirt, and then gently squeeze the soapy water through it, using a lift-and-fold motion as you work.
- No matter how you wash it, a dryer is the best place to dry a down jacket. But first, wrap it in a bath towel and give it a nice big squeeze. Then replace the towel with a dry one and blot it again. You’ll shorten the drying time and put less stress on the stitching.
- Wet down clumps together, so you’ll need to pull the jacket out of the dryer every 10 minutes or so to shake it out and rearrange it before starting things up again.
- If you toss a few clean tennis balls into the dryer, they’ll bump against the down as the item is tossed around and help bust up the damp clumps of feathers. Don’t be alarmed by the noisy rattle, bounce and bang–it will beat and fluff the feathers in your jacket or coat.
Then make sure your jacket is completely dry before wearing it again. Damp feathers have an unpleasant smell, and they make an inviting home for mold and mildew. Totally dry down, on the other hand, has no smell at all, and the filling won’t stick together when you squeeze a handful of it. So are you down with that?
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