When was the last time you washed your gear?Some people believe that you cannot wash your down jacket or sleeping bag, but that is far from the truth. While you want to avoid getting your puffy wet on the trail, washing your down jacket or sleeping bag will lengthen its lifespan and maintain the insulation properties. Your favorite puffy deserves a long life on your outdoor adventures. We are asked regularly how to care for your gear, and we figured it was time to share the best tips and tricks to care for your down, as well as other product recommendations for your technical gear.
WHY WE LOVE NIKWAX
Nikwax provides a wide range of products to care for your gear – not just your puffy. And their care of the environment puts them at the top of our list of brands we recommend. Nikwax is a leader in creating innovative, PFC-free aftercare products for outdoor enthusiasts. If you have more questions about what it means to be PFC-free, check out our last article on rain jackets. They are considered “Carbon Balanced” company and work with World Land Trust. They have measured their carbon footprint, taken action to reduce it, and “offset” their unavoidable emissions – this funds the protection of forests. Nikwax’s commitment has restored a forest in Ecuador.
Nikwax can help you clean, waterproof, and condition all your outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment. They also have great how-to guides on their websites if you need video tutorials. A good thing to remember when shopping for a Nikwax product is “green is for clean” and “purple is for proofing.”
WHY SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR PUFFY?
The face fabrics on your down coat are usually treated with a durable water resistant (DWR) finish that will repel water. But this is just a barrier. Dirt, body oils, tears, and everyday use can affect its performance, which is why your puffy requires regular washing to keep its loft. You do not have to take it to a dry-cleaners – we honestly recommend that you take care of it at home with Nikwax Down Wash Direct.It is formulated for all down products and will not strip down the natural oils from down feathers. You can also destroy the water repellency of the face fabric by not using the right detergents.
HOW TO WASH YOUR DOWN GEAR
- Use a front-loading washing machine - the agitator of a top-loader can be less gentle on your clothes and might damage the down feathers. A top loader on the gentle cycle will suffice. Your local laundromat might also be a good option if you do not have a front-loader.
- Add Down Wash Direct according to the instructions. Make sure that you pay attention to the bottle on how much to add because residual soaps prevent the garment from lofting.
- Make sure the article was thoroughly rinsed. You can set it for an extra rinse cycle.
- Put your jacket in the dryer with dryer balls or tennis balls. This will help break up the down clumps. You should check on the item periodically and pull apart the clumps with your hands – this will help speed up the drying process. But know that this process is slow and does take time. High heat can ruin your jacket. We do not recommend the laundromat for this part of the process. You can also let your jacket air dry – it is the safest way – but the most time consuming and can take days. Lay your jacket flat under a towel in a warm, dry spot. Try to avoid direct sunlight. Periodically, you will need to pull apart the clumps and flip the garment over. Do not stuff or store your jacket UNTIL it is completely dry to avoid mildew.
You can also use Nikwax Down Proof after your rinse cycle. Nikwax recommends only using Down Proof on one item at a time and the amount of detergent varies with sleeping bags. You will wash your garment or bag according to the care label, preferably on low setting and slow spin. The drying process remains the same as above.
Pro tip: If you have stains or your jacket is extremely dirty, you can spray stain remover on these areas before washing. You can also stop the washer midway through the cycle for an hour and let the garment soak. Do NOT use fabric softeners or bleach.
WHY SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR WATERPROOF GEAR
Nikwax Techwash is a great cleaner for your waterproof clothing and pairs nicely with Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In. These products together will clean your rain gear, effectively restoring and adding breathability and water repellency. Have a jacket that is experiencing “wetting out”? This occurs when the water soaks into and spreads across the surface – typically on your shoulders – and is a sign that the DWR treatment has been compromised. It prevents the breathable layer from working. Just like a dirty down jacket, your rain gear also needs to be clean to be used at its fullest potential.
HOW TO WASH YOUR WATERPROOF GEAR
- Close all your jacket’s zippers and clean out the detergent drawer, if you have one, to remove any residue. It is best to limit this process to 2-3 garments.
- Add Techwash according to the instructions. This varies depending on washer type and number of garments to effectively clean and re-proof. Use a warm cycle and wash according to the care label.
- Leave your articles in the washing machine for the re-proofing process. Add the TX.Direct Wash-In – once again paying attention to the instructions. Wash at 30 degrees at a slow speed setting.
- Air dry your garments or tumble dry on a low setting if the care label allows, but we think it is best to let it air dry.
You can also hand-wash at home, but this requires more work. You will need to immerse the garment(s) in hand-hot water, add Techwash per directions, agitate to mix, and thoroughly rinse (up to 3 times). Then, fill up your sink again with hand-hot water and add TX.Direct Wash-In per directions. Leave and soak for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with cold water until the water runs gear.
WHY YOU SHOULD WASH YOUR BASELAYERS
You are most likely washing this one after your adventures, but sometimes your items might experience a little “funk.” That is why Nikwax Wool Wash and Nikwax Basewashare great options to help give your baselayers new life. Both formulas will soften, refresh, and remove odors. They will also accelerate drying time, improve moisture management, and thermal regulation. Wool Wash is great for your Smartwool baelayers, we recommend you wash your Patagonia Capliene baselayers with Basewash. These are extremely easy to wash and just replace your regular detergent. Always follow the care label and Nikwax instructions for the best results.Good gear is an investment and taking proper care of it will extend its life – saving you money and keeping garments out of the landfill. Nikwax also makes a wide variety of products to also clean and restore your footwear – nubuck, suede, and leather. Their Tent & Gear SolarProof and SolarWash are also great for your tent and bags. Our staff is available to help you pick out the best products for your gear and answer any additional questions you may have.