How to Clean A Down Filled Winter Jacket or Parka

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woman wearing parka

Down winter jackets and parkas are all the rage right now—they’re pricey, but they really are the ultimate in warmth in the colder months. The key to making this investment worthwhile, is to take care of these jackets so you have them for a really, really, long time. So, how do you clean a down jacket or parka? Well, let’s get into it!

Check the Fabric Care Label

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you actually get down to the business of laundering your jacket. First and foremost, anytime I talk about cleaning anything garment-wise I always recommend to check the fabric care label. This thing is there for a good reason—the manufacturer took the time to put this in place so you know exactly how to take care of your jacket. So, do yourself a favor, check the label, and find out what the manufacturer recommends.

Remove Fur

Another important thing to do before you actually put your jacket into the wash is to remove anything that’s made of fur. If you have a hood that’s fur-lined, unzip it and take it off. To clean a fur lining you can use a soft bristle brush or you can take it to a furrier. A few other tips before you get washing: make sure that your jacket is zipped up all the way, your pockets are empty, and that all velcro fasteners are closed. If you’ve ever laundered something with open velcro you’ll notice that it ends up with all kinds of strings and lint stuck in there.

How To Wash Your Parka

You are finally ready to put this jacket in the washing machine! A front-load washer is preferable because you don’t have the center agitator which can that can kind of mess things up when it comes to the loft and fluffiness of the jacket. Just stuff it in there by itself, you don’t want to put other things into the machine with it. You’ll want to use cold water to do this particular job, and when it comes to choosing a detergent you want to pick something that’s gentle. Since you’re investing a significant amount of money in a jacket like this, I might even get a down specific laundry detergent just to be safe.

When it comes to adding anything else to the wash—things like bleach, fabric softener, vinegar, essential oils, etc.—I’m going to say don’t do it. You want to keep it simple, just stick to laundry detergent!

Dry Immediately!

As soon as that buzzer dings, make sure that you go down to the washing machine, take the jacket out and get it directly into the dryer. You don’t want to let it sit for even a few minutes because mold and mildew can start to form in the down filling—and trust me, you don’t want to deal with that! Next, pop it into the dryer and add some dryer balls (traditional or DIY), which will help tumble out any of the moisture and also restore and even out the loft of the feathers. Be sure to dry on a low heat—you might need to do this for an hour and a half or so. Once it’s done do a quick check to see if all of the moisture has come out, I can’t stress enough that you really want the jacket to be completely dry.

How Often Should I Clean It?

You know your jacket better than anyone else. My recommendation is to play it by ear. If you need to wash your jacket a couple of times a season that’s fine, you don’t have to get obsessive about it. I wash mine 1 to 2 times a season depending on how it’s looking. Now, a light-colored jacket will probably need a little bit more attention than a darker one so just keep that in mind too. If you want to avoid washing, or if you just want to extend the time between washings, there are a couple of things that you can do. A lot of the jackets are made with very durable, easy-to-clean, fabrics. So, if you happen to have a salt stain or a little stain on the exterior of your jacket, oftentimes, even just a damp cloth can wipe away those stains. If it’s something a little tougher, you can put a little bit of vinegar on that and that should really help remove the stain. The other thing you can do if you notice that the loft is a little bit off, or if the jacket has been in storage for a while, you can just take the jacket and put it into your dryer on the air only or the fluff cycle with a few dryer balls. This will help to restore evenness and fluffiness.

Once you know how to take care of your down jacket or parka it will last you for years—and I’m not just saying that as an exaggeration. I plan on keeping my jacket for 20 years. That was a decision I made when I bought it because it was quite the outlay. What’s your take on down jackets? Do you think they’re worth the investment? Have you crossed that bridge, made that leap, spent the money—have you enjoyed the jacket or would you have preferred to keep the money in your pocket and buy something a little less expensive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Melissa,
    Thank you for this tip. I do put my down jackets in the laundry machine but after a few times, the jacket is not waterproof anymore. (My jacket is 26 years old and I still wear it.)
    I think it is important for everyone to know that this can happen. I have not used a chemical liquid to waterproof my jacket.

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