As a seasoned hiker, you indulged yourself by treating yourself to a nice feather down jacket. As a novice trekker, you’ve opted for feathers and down that will keep you warm while out hiking. Whether you’re one or the other, your goal is to keep your padded jacket as long as possible. Follow our advice to enjoy your jacket for many years to come!
How to wash a feather down jacket while keeping its volume
In general, it’s not recommended to wash a down jacket too frequently because each wash reduces the insulating properties of the feather interior. Furthermore, looking after products containing feathers or down sometimes ends in disaster: feathers don’t tolerate water well and clump together when wet. We’ll explain how to avoid that!
The key word is: VENTILATION! The down needs to be ventilated or agitated at all stages of the washing process. Here are 4 steps to properly wash a down or feather padded jacket:
- Pull up the zippers of the down jacket and put it in the machine
- Add 2 or 3 tennis balls (ideally already a little worn to avoid losing their yellow threads) and other clothes in the drum of the machine
- Start a cycle at 86°F with your usual detergent (smaller amount than usual) or a special down detergent which preserves its insulating characteristics.
- Rinse twice and set to a very delicate spin cycle to avoid creating clumps of feathers
How to dry a feather down jacket
- The best method: the tumble dryer!
Put your jacket in the dryer along with 2 or 3 tennis balls and some clothes, then run 2-3 gentle drying cycles. Between each cycle, shake and tap the jacket to break up any clumps that have formed.
- No dryer?
No problem, you can hang your down jacket to dry on a drying rack, but you’ll need to shake it and turn it over regularly to avoid balls of feathers forming! Dry it in a dry place at room temperature.
How to reactivate the water-repellency of a down jacket
Let's face it, a down jacket that isn’t waterproof in the beginning cannot become waterproof! On the other hand, it’s quite possible to reactivate its water-repellency, that is, its property to be hydrophobic and not absorb droplets on its surface.
Here's how to reactivate the water-repellency of a down jacket:
- Washing: follow the instructions above
- Impregnation: use a water-repellency liquid reactivator in a basin of water (86°F and 15 minutes of soaking) or in a machine (softener tray, delicate cycle 86°F).
- Activation: Apply heat either in a tumble dryer (follow the instructions above) or on a drying rack (follow the instructions above), occasionally using a hair dryer with gentle heat.
How to store a down jacket without damaging the feathers
The way you store your down jacket will also contribute to its longevity. It’s very common for feather padded jackets to fold away into their own pocket or in a separate pouch, but you should NEVER store your feather products compacted, at the risk of reducing their thermal properties over the long term. This also applies to vacuum storage bags.
Of course, you can compact your down jacket for the duration of a trek. But, for the long summer months, it's best to put your product on a hanger and let it expand. This way, your feather padded jacket retains its loft and therefore its heat!
How to repair a hole in a down jacket
What to do if your down jacket has a tear in it? Let’s be clear: a small loss of feathers is quite possible even without there being a specific hole. The feathers sometimes manage, despite our best efforts, to pass between the assembly threads of the garment. Here, it would be more a question of a snag among the branches or caused by a rock.
- Do you want the repair to be inconspicuous, pretty neat even?
If the fabric isn’t too thin, take the time to sew up the hole with a thread the color of the outside of your jacket. Beware: if you sew, don’t pierce the other side of the jacket, as this will create a thermal bridge and so reduce the performance of your jacket.
- You’re short of time and have no sewing skills?
The sticky repair patch comes to your rescue: cut a round-edged rectangle one or two centimeters larger than the size of the snag, glue it to the clean, flattened fabric and it's done - you're good to go!