Eco Man

How To Wash A Down Jacket In A Top Load Washer

How To Carefully Wash And Dry Your Down Jacket Without Causing Damage

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Yes! It CAN be done!


I know the feeling. You have this super expensive down jacket that cost you anywhere between $100 to $500, and you’re scared to death of damaging it in the wash. So you’ve been spot cleaning, baby wiping—anything to avoid throwing it into the washing machine.

But it’s time.

That prized down jacket of yours has been hanging out in the coat closet for most of the year, or has been tucked away in a ruck sack, and has most likely developed an odor.

There’s just one problem: you don’t own a front loading washing machine. And you want to know a secret? We don’t own one either.

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Everyone recommends washing a down jacket in a front load washer, and that’s fine. But, not every household owns a front load washing machine. And the reason that a front load washer is recommended in the first place is because it doesn’t have an agitator which can literally shred the outer layer of your down jacket.

However, when you set your top load washer on delicate/hand-wash cycle, you’re locking the agitator in place—stopping it from turning—and the only thing that moves around is the inner tub; slushing the water around and then transitioning into the spin cycle.

But, you still want to take precautionary measures, because your down jacket can still snag on the agitator, even though that part is locked in place. So below are instructions on how to carefully wash your down jacket in a top loader.

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How To Wash Your Down Jacket

What You’ll Need

Step 1

Take a regular pillow case and loosely place your down jacket inside of it—no need to roll it up in any special shape. Then secure the opening of the pillow by either tying a knot, or utilizing a zip tie. If your jacket is a light shade, I recommend a solid white pillowcase to avoid any color stains.

Step 2

Choose cool/cold water temperature, and set your wash cycle on delicate/hand-wash—which ever option your washing machine happens to have. I happen to own a General Electric washing machine, and the most gentle cycle is ”delicate”.

Step 3

Put in a small amount of detergent or one laundry strip into the running water and let it dissolve. I HIGHLY recommend using laundry strips because they’re premeasured, non-toxic, don’t contain harsh chemicals that can damage fabric—oh, and they don’t leave what’s called “detergent stains”, which look like grease stains on dark fabric.

*Do Not Use Fabric Softener*

Step 4

Place the load into the washer, close the lid and let it wash. It will be fine. My husband owns an Arc’Teryx down jacket and it is extremely delicate—this is how we launder it each year.

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How To Dry Your Down Jacket

What You’ll Need

  • Tennis Balls (or wool dryer balls)
  • *DO NOT USE SOFTENER SHEETS*

    Step 1

    When your down jacket has finished its journey in the washing machine, take it out of the pillow case and either hang it up to dry or place it in the dryer on the delicate/air fluff cycle. I recommend the air fluff cycle, but not all dryers will have this setting—so go with delicate.

    If you start feeling nervous, just stop the cycle and take a peek.

    Step 2

    Should you choose to use the dryer, throw a couple of wool dryer balls (or a tennis ball) inside as well. The balls will help to evenly re-distribute the stuffing and fluff your jacket up good as new.

    Still Scared To Wash Your Down Jacket?

    Another way to safely wash your delicate down jacket is to hand-wash it, or use a small, non-electric washing machine like the one pictured below by The Laundry Alternative (which can wash up to a 5lb load in just a couple of minutes).

    Non-electric washing machines are ideal for small delicate items that might otherwise risk damage in an electric washing machine.

    These compact and portable washing machines are also great for RV trips, small apartment living and camping.

    The only downside? It operates manually (hence, “non-electric”) and you must hand-crank your laundry for about 2 minutes.

    I hope this article gave you the courage to wash your beloved down jacket.

    Make sure that the agitator stays locked in place and if for some reason you can’t use a pillow case, a mesh bag is fine as well.

    Stay warm!

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