Feather-filled jackets are toasty and warm, even in the most frigid, tundra-like climates. Nothing beats a puffy parka on a cold winter day. However, even a winter coat can become dirty, soiled and stinky. Dry-cleaning is costly, so you may want to wash your cozy outerwear at home.
How can you clean your down or feather-filled jacket or vest? Nearly everyone knows that feathers can become soggy and clumpy when wet. Can you really launder a jacket that is filled with them? Certainly you can! You just need a can of tennis balls!
Basic steps for washing
This is simple! Three easy steps!
First, you must remove and fur or leather collars or other accessories, if your jacket or vest has them. Usually, these will zip or snap off easily.
Place your jacket alone in the washing machine. Launder it on a gentle cycle set to a warm temperature. Use detergent, as usual. Do not use bleach. If your washing machine has a "no-agitate option" select this.
When the wash-cycle ends, remove your jacket immediately. At this point, it will look saggy and soggy. Do not be alarmed. The next step will restore it to its original puffy form.
Dry your jacket alone in your automatic dryer. Toss three brand-new/clean tennis balls into the dryer with it. Set your dryer on warm but not hot. Most down jackets are made of nylon, and you do not want to melt this!
Do not use the delicate setting, as this will not provide enough air or motion to restore your jacket.
You may have to run your jacket through a few drying cycles, but it will come out clean and puffy, just like new.
Do not use the spiky plastic dryer balls. These wreak havoc on your dryer. They bounce too hard and can actually upset the balance of your machine. In fact, most appliance manufacturers will not honor product warranties for customers who use dryer balls.
Tennis balls are much gentler and lighter, and they are ideal for fluffing up feather-filled items. Note: It's worth keeping a can of clean tennis balls in the laundry room, just for washing down-filled jackets, blankets, etc.
When the dryer stops and your jacket is dry, be very careful in handling it. Nylon can heat up quickly. Also, the snaps, zippers and other hardware on your garment will be quite hot. Allow the jacket to cool off before you attempt to wear it.