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Washing a winter jacket: how do I wash my winter jacket correctly?

You truly can’t go without a winter jacket when it’s bitter cold out. What is the best way to wash your jacket without it losing any of its performance? There are just a few things you need to keep in mind in order to keep your jacket clean, and reliable against harsher conditions. Find out how to wash your winter jacket here.

  • The frost is glistening and the air is crisp and clear – it’s time to get out into the countryside. Make sure that you wash your winter jacket every now and then so it is always ready when you need it. But when should you wash your winter jacket? There isn’t a hard and fast rule. But the following three rules will give you an idea when it’s time to wash your winter jacket.

    1. When you return from a trip: Your jacket will certainly be ready for a wash if you have worn it on a trip lasting several days in the wilderness. It will have come into contact with sweat, body fat or possibly road salt. This may impair the performance in the long run. Consequently, it is wise to wash a winter jacket after you have returned from a longer trip.
    2. When the season is over: As the days become warmer, you will swap your winter jacket for a lighter between-seasons jacket or a softshell jacket. This would be an ideal time to give your winter jacket a wash before putting it away until next winter.
    3. Dirt and stains: If you are out and about in the sleet and slush of winter weather, dirt and stains are sure to build up on your jacket and trousers. It would be wise to wash your winter jacket if it is heavily stained.

    But please note: every wash cycle will take its toll on your jacket’s fibres. Consequently, try to avoid washing your jacket too often.

  • What is the best way to wash your jacket without it losing any functionality? The following tips will help you to clean your jacket gently. This applies to both down jackets and winter jackets with synthetic fibre insulation.

    How to wash your winter jacket the right way:

    • No fabric conditioner: It is not a good idea to add a fabric softener when washing your winter jacket. This is not only true for a Jack Wolfskin winter jacket but for outdoor jackets in general. Fabric softeners coat the fibres and may result in them losing their functionality.
    • Remove the faux fur collar: If you intend to wash your winter jacket which has a faux fur collar, it would be wise to remove any applications – where possible – beforehand. It would make more sense to clean any applications manually.
    • Close all fastenings: Otherwise fastenings can get caught up in the machine during the spin cycle. Consequently, fasten all zips, Velcro fastenings and press studs before putting the winter jacket in the washing machine. Loosely fasten all drawstrings.
    • Read the care label: What is the correct temperature and wash programme for your winter jacket? Can you tumble-dry the jacket? The answers to these questions will be on the care label on the inside of the jacket.
    • Not too hot: You can wash your jacket in the machine – however, the temperature should not exceed 40 degrees. Higher temperatures in the washing machine may damage functional textiles.
    • Pre-treat stains: Accidentally slipping on wet grass can leave unsightly stains on your jacket. It is best to pre-treat these stains with gall soap. Leave the soap to penetrate the stain before putting the item in the washing machine.
  • Please differentiate between washing a down jacket or one with a synthetic fibre fill. Put a down jacket out to air overnight if the jacket has become damp or smells. You will generally find that it is back to normal by the following morning. Stains can be removed by treating it with some soap.

    How to best wash down jackets:

    • Wash individually: Down jackets generally have a lot of loft and usually become very heavy when wet. Therefore always wash them separately. The washing machine needs to have capacity for at least six kilos.
    • Detergent: One of the key questions you need to ask yourself when washing your winter jacket is: what is the best detergent to use? For down jackets, it is best to look for a detergent that is geared specifically to washing products filled with down. Conventional detergents are not suitable for down products because the protective natural oils of down and its loft may be impaired.
    • Wash programme: When you put your winter jacket into the washing machine, remember that you need a gentle wash. What programme is most suited to this? Some washing machines have a programme especially for down products. Alternatively, you can choose a gentle cycle or one for woollens at 30 degrees. Here, we recommend following the instructions on the care label. Remember that the drum should have plenty of water, as the jacket should be completely immersed.
    • Tennis balls: An additional and clever tip is to put some clean tennis balls into the washing machine with the down jacket. Three to four tennis balls will ensure that the down inside the garment will retain its loft.
    • Spin: Down jackets should be spun in the washing machine as the material soaks up water. Set the machine to a spin speed of 800 revolutions per minute (RPM). When the wash programme nears the end, increase to 1000 RPM, in order to remove excess water.
    • Rinse: You may wish to select the ‘extra rinse’ programme after the wash programme to make sure that there is no more detergent left in the jacket.
    • In the tumble-dryer: Once the washing programme is over, put the down jacket into the tumble-dryer and add the tennis balls. Run the dryer for about one hour at 30 to 60 degrees, provided that the care label states that this is suitable for the jacket in question. It is often necessary to repeat the drying programme for a second or third time.
    • Airing: After tumble-drying, leave the jacket to air for a day to allow any residual moisture to escape.
    • Drying in the open air: Leaving a down jacket only to air dry is not such a brilliant idea. Firstly, it will take a couple of days to dry, and the feathers are likely to clump together, or the jacket will dry unevenly and leave stains. In the worst case scenario, it may even go mouldy. If you do decide to let your down jacket dry in the open air, it is a good idea to lay it out flat on a clothes horse and fluff it up several times a day.
  • You can also tackle dirt and stains on jackets which are insulated with synthetic fibre material using soap and water. However, unlike down jackets, odours can’t be removed from synthetic jackets by simply hanging them out to air. By contrast, it is very easy to wash polyester winter jackets.

    • Detergent: Choose a detergent that is specially geared to functional textiles. This is the best bet because these cleaning agents are reliable, gentle on functional materials and, last but not least, environmentally friendly.
    • Wash programme: If your washing machine has a ‘sports’ programme, this is ideal for washing sportswear. Alternatively, select a gentle wash setting no higher than 40 degrees for your winter jacket (made of synthetic materials like polyester) and in accordance with the care label.
    • Spin: Polyester winter jackets should only be spun carefully and not faster than 800 revolutions per minute, in order to safeguard any possible coatings.
    • Rinse: If your washing machine does not have a programme for sportswear, you should look to repeat the rinse once or twice more at the end. It is important to thoroughly rinse the item, so that any remaining detergent in the jacket does not impact its breathability.
    • Drying: Check the garment label to see if your polyester jacket can go in the tumble-dryer. It is often more advisable to simply hang the jacket up to dry. In contrast to down, polyester dries exceptionally quickly.
  • Whether you wear your winter jacket to cycle to work or when you go on your next snowshoe hike: You definitely don’t wish to get wet doing this. Consequently, look to waterproof your winter jacket the next time you wash it. Waterproofing a jacket results in water simply rolling off the outside as well as increasing the jacket’s breathability. Rain jackets, ski jackets and 3-in-1 jackets, too, should be waterproofed now and again. They will then stay waterproof and dirt-resistant for longer.

    For professional waterproofing, you should look to use a special waterproofing product from Jack Wolfskin. Please ensure that you read the instructions carefully to achieve the best results.

    As you can see: by following the right tips, you can easily wash, dry and waterproof your winter jacket. It will then be ready and waiting for your next outdoor adventure!

Looking for a suitable detergent for your down jacket? Or do you want to waterproof your winter jacket in the washing machine?

You’ll find any care product you may need at Jack Wolfskin – where you can be assured that no environmentally-damaging chemicals are contained.

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