Can this down jacket be saved?
April 26, 2019 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I have a down jacket with icky stuff on it. Can I launder it (as opposed to dry cleaning it)?

I have a down jacket that I LURVE (this one, if you're dying to see it). It has a big stain on the lapel-ish area; I don't think it's anything alarming, really -- just sunscreen and makeup and so on -- but it's very noticeable and I really can't wear the coat in its current condition. Luckily I won't have to until the Fall, but I'd kinda like to clean it before then, obviously. I've tried spot cleaning it but it didn't work very well.

So the problem I'm having is that the label says "Dry Clean Only." However, I once dry cleaned a different down jacket and it was a complete disaster; the cleaner did something to the down during the cleaning process and the damn coat came back to me like the down had been completely taken out. It was pretty much flat as a pancake. It was demoralizing because who wants to wear an empty nylon shell? (There's a metaphor about life in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to figure it out.) I then Googled "cleaning down coats" or whatever and found out you're really not supposed to dry clean down coats at all because, yep, the process flattens the down. Great.

I have another long down coat that I've laundered with no trouble, but the label on that one says it can be laundered as long as you throw a bunch of tennis balls in the dryer with it. So, does anyone have experience with throwing down coats in the washing machine and dryer even though the label says Dry Clean Only? Should I try to find a dry cleaner that specializes in down jackets? Help and thank you!
posted by O Sock My Sock to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total)
I ALWAYS wash my down coats, no matter what the label says. I use cold water in the washer, pre-treat collars and stains with a laundry spray cleaner (like Shout), use Free & Clear detergent, and give it an extra rinse. I use wool dryer balls (tennis balls are fine, too) and pull it out periodically to fluff it up. Remove any trims - I've got two that have faux fur trim that zip off that need to be hand washed.

They all look great and smell good when I'm done. I've never had an issue.
posted by XtineHutch at 10:14 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]

I have pretty much stopped dry cleaning anything that says dry clean only, including a down jacket, with no problems. Some of it I hand wash. But I would be worried that if you throw this in the laundry machine the stains still won't come out. Have you tried this particular type of spot cleaning?
posted by pinochiette at 10:55 AM on April 26

Makeup and sunscreen have oils in them, so I would pre-treat the stains. I use Dawn dish deterg, which has degreaser in it, diluted with water, and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Wash i a front-loader with something very mild; you don't want to strip oils from the down. Gentle wash. The dryer helps to re-fluff the down - add a tennis ball or 2.

The link says Fabric: Shell - 100% Polyester, Lining - 97% Polyester 3% Elastane, calls it Kanda Puffer, doesn't say down, but you have the label, which probably says the filling is down? and to dry-clean.

Ask Some Experts: Patagonia, REI, WellAndGood
posted by theora55 at 12:21 PM on April 26

I hand wash my down jacket and vest in a large tub with cold water and Nikwax Down Wash, lay flat to dry on a big drying rack, then give it a good fluff.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:36 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

Seconding Nixwax down wash, in a front loading washer.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:17 PM on April 26

I use liquid makeup remover on cotton pads or makeup remover wipes to get makeup and sunscreen off my jacket collars (down included). If there's residue left over or you need a finishing wipe of something to remove the last bits of residue, rubbing alcohol is fast drying and hasn't harmed any jacket fabrics I've used it on. Spot cleaning with makeup remover works very well and doesn't require the whole jacket be cleaned. Also, I love that coat so much! I've admired for a couple of years now. Excellent look!
posted by quince at 2:55 PM on April 26

I agree that makeup remover helps a lot with removing makeup from clothes. I have two down vests that always attract makeup on the collar and I wipe the collards down regularly with makeup remover.
posted by radioamy at 3:33 PM on April 26

My partner just washed her down jacket in the washer, and it came out flat as a pancake too.

So we put shoes in the dryer (wrapped up in socks, oddly) and proceeded to use the dryer to beat the hell out of the coat, till it puffed back up. Took maybe 2 dryer sessions of 1 hour or so each.

TLDR: shoes, tennis balls, or other hard objects in the dryer are necessary to "re-inflate" down.
posted by weed donkey at 4:42 PM on April 26

I do a load of down jackets and vests in cold water with Nikwax down wash on the delicates setting. Then permanent press in the dryer with wool dryer balls. Nikwax gets out odors from my down apparel, and they come out awesome from the dryer every time. Super fluffy, clean and no bunched-up feathers.
posted by extramundane at 4:55 PM on April 26

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