You Can Wash Your Down Jacket & Sleeping Bag
Russ Chastain 03.19.19
Sleeping bags and jackets with natural down (feathers) as insulation are known to be some of the warmest available, but many folks shy away from them because they don’t think their down-insulated products can be washed. But wearing the same jacket season after season without washing it can make it rather ripe, and sleeping bags can also get funky. What to do?
A recent survey revealed that while 70% of respondents own at least one down product, more than half of them thought the items should not be washed. A third of respondents said they don’t wash their down products because they don’t know how, and another 20 percent believed they don’t have the proper machine or products to do so. You might be surprised to learn that “down care” ranked twice as high as “animal welfare” among the reasons people may choose not purchase a down insulated product. Lastly, 62 percent of respondents said they would consider adding a down-specific detergent at time of purchase if it were readily available.
Well, there’s a new product coming out that will help with that. It’s called Down Wash, and it’s coming from Allied Feather & Down, a company which has an awful lot of experience washing down — they’ve been perfecting their method for 30 years — and have created an environmentally-friendly product for washing down garments, comforters, etc.
The press release specifies that Down Wash is palm-oil-free, but why should we care about that? Delving deeper, I learned that most laundry detergents use palm oil, which is bad for down. And there’s also concern that widespread use of palm oil may contribute to deforestation and loss of habitat for orangutans.
They also say this is the first “home laundry solution for down” to be produced by a “non-chemical company in the outdoor industry.”
So, if you have down products that need to be decontaminated and you want to be palm-oil-free, here’s what you do:
- Start by running your down product through a rinse only cycle, without detergent, to thoroughly wet the product. Most jackets can be washed at home, but some heavier weight sleeping bags may require a commercial washer and dryer.
- Using a down-specific detergent such as ALLIED’s Down Wash, wash in cold or warm water and, if possible, add an extra rinse following the wash without detergent.
- Dry thoroughly on low heat. This may take several cycles. Many times, the exterior shell will feel dry but the down inside is still slightly damp. It is critical to dry your down product completely and it is unlikely you would damage the down when using low heat.
- While drying, add two to three clean tennis balls to aid in breaking up the clumps of wet down and maximizing loft.
Looks like a jug of Down Wash will cost you about ten bucks.
Down Wash will launch in specialty retail outlets globally and online in 400ml bottles, initially priced at $9.99 USD.
There’s a preorder page here, which allows interested parties to add their email address to Allied’s list