How to Wash Outerwear and Down Jackets

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Winter weather is fast approaching, which means it’s almost time to break out your technical outerwear and down jackets! But if you’re like me, a few items might have been hastily packed away last Spring and there’s probably some catch-up laundry to do! Before you head out on your first hikes and shred sessions of the season, make sure that your waterproof GORE-TEX garments and down jackets are in their best performing condition. This means taking the time to review how to clean and care for your hard-earned gear so that you can make it last as long as possible.

GORE-TEX:

To extend the useful life of your GORE-TEX jackets & pants, make sure that you wash your gear with a high-performance waterproofing and cleaning treatment. I recommend Nikwax Tech Wash, which you can find at any REI. All GORE-TEX outerwear comes with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating on the outer surface that causes water to roll off the garment. The elements, dirt, sweat, and sunscreen can cause this to wear off over time. You can often renew the DWR by following the proper care instructions on the garment and ironing, or if it’s really worn-off, using a wash-in water repellency treatment.

  1. Always read the proper care instructions on the tag of your garment before washing.
  2. Never use powdered soaps or anything containing fabric softeners, conditioners, stain removers or bleach when washing Gore-Tex outerwear.
  3. Zip up all zippers and close all pockets.
  4. Machine wash in warm water using liquid detergent or a wash-in treatment like Nikwax.
  5. Line dry your garment or tumble dry on low or medium heat. Once it’s dry, tumble dry for 20 min to reactivate the DWR treatment on the outer fabric.
  6. Iron (optional), if unable to tumble dry. Iron the dry garment on gentle setting (warm, no steam) by placing a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron. This will also help reactivate the DWR treatment on your garment’s outer fabric.

Down Garments: 

To help sustain the loft and performance of your down garments, it is necessary to keep them clean. However, you do not want to wash down garments more than twice a year. Down garments have unique properties that require special care when laundering. Luckily, the best way to wash down as at home in your laundry machine.

  1. Zip up any zippers, pockets, and if possible, turn the garment inside-out.
  2. Wash the garment with a cleaner that is specifically meant for down or technical outerwear. I recommend Nikwax Down Wash. Household detergents can damage the down and feathers. Make sure that there is no normal detergent left-over in the detergent compartment of your washing machine.
  3.  Only use a front-loading washing machine (the center agitator of a top-load machine might damage the jacket). Set the machine to cold and wash on a delicate cycle with the instructed amount of down wash. Rinse a few times on lowest spin cycle to guarantee there is no residue left on the feathers.
  4. Never air-dry a down garment. Tumble dry on low heat. (Always check the label of the garment for drying instructions).
  5. Using tennis balls in the dryer prevents the feathers from clumping and helps “fluff” the down. You can also remove the jacket periodically to manually fluff and evenly spread out the down. Make sure that the jacket is %100 dry before putting it away, or else it will smell.

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