As an outdoor enthusiast and long-time owner of a Mountain Hardwear down jacket, I’ve learned a thing or two about keeping my coveted coat in optimal condition over the years. A down jacket is a big investment, so you’ll want to take proper care of it to ensure it lasts for seasons to come.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through the dos and don’ts of washing your Mountain Hardwear down jacket. From recommended cleaning methods to mistakes to avoid, I’ve got you covered with plenty of tips and advice. Let’s dive in!
An Introduction to Mountain Hardwear Down Jackets
Before we get into the nitty gritty of washing, let’s do a quick overview of Mountain Hardwear and what makes their down jackets so special.
Founded way back in 1993 by a few outdoor industry veterans, Mountain Hardwear has always had a focus on innovative gear for climbers, skiers, and mountaineers. Down insulation is where they really shine – their patented Q.Shield goose down utilizes a unique water-repellent treatment that allows down clusters to retain loft and warmth even when exposed to moisture.
I’ve been rocking my Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown jacket for years now. It’s gone with me everywhere from the slopes of Whistler to the trails of Patagonia. The 800-fill hydrophobic down coupled with stretchy side panels make for a jacket that’s toasty warm but still breathable and flexible. It compresses down nicely too, perfect for stashing in my pack.
So in short: Mountain Hardwear makes some of the best down jackets out there. But to keep that premium down and performing at its best, proper care and cleaning are a must.
Step-By-Guide To Wash Your Mountain Hardwear Down Jacket
Hand Washing: The Gold Standard Cleaning Method
Ask any down jacket expert, and they’ll tell you: hand washing is the ideal way to clean your coat while being gentle on delicate down clusters. It may take a bit more time and elbow grease, but following this meticulous process helps ensure your jacket stays in tip-top shape.
- Mild detergent or down wash – Avoid regular detergents which can strip natural oils from down. Choose a gentle soap made for down, like Nikwax Down Wash.
- Two large sinks/bins – You’ll need one for washing, one for rinsing.
- Non-abrasive towel or sponge.
- Clean tennis balls or fabric softener balls (optional) – For extra agitation to fluff down.
- Large drying rack or clothesline.
Step-By-Step Hand Washing Instructions
- Check pockets and zippers – Empty all pockets. Zip up jacket fully so down doesn’t escape.
- Pre-treat any stains – For serious stains, spot clean with a small amount of detergent and rinse thoroughly before full washing.
- Fill sink with lukewarm water and detergent – Only use enough detergent for light sudsing. Too much detergent can damage DWR treatment.
- Submerge jacket – Gently press and churn the jacket around to loosen dirt and saturate all fabric and down with suds. Avoid harsh twisting or wringing which can damage clusters.
- Let soak 3-5 minutes – Longer for heavily soiled areas. Churn and press periodically.
- Drain sink and rinse – Remove jacket and drain dirty wash water. Refill with clean cool water for rinsing.
- Rinse thoroughly – Lift and press jacket repeatedly until water runs clear. Make sure all soap residue is removed.
- Optional second rinse – For heavily soiled jackets, repeat rinse in clean water for extra assurance all detergent is gone.
- Drain and gently press out excess water – Do not wring! Support jacket’s weight while pressing between towels.
- Dry flat on rack away from direct heat – Resist the temptation to tumble dry! Lay jacket flat on towel or rack.
- Fluff periodically while drying – Use tennis balls to gently agitate down and break up clumps.
And voila, your jacket is clean and revitalized! Hand washing may take more time, but it’s gentle enough for even the most delicate down. The extra TLC helps extend your jacket’s lifespan.
Machine Washing – An Acceptable Alternative
I know hand washing your bulky jacket seems daunting. So if you opt for the machine washing route, here’s my advice for the best way to safely clean your down coat in the laundry:
- Down-specific detergent
- Gentle laundry bag
- Tennis balls
- Large capacity front-loading machine
Machine Washing Steps
- Pretreat stains/soils
- Zip and secure jacket – Fully zip up with no loose fill poking out.
- Place in laundry bag – Keeps jacket contained during wash.
- Wash on delicate cycle with cold water
- Use mild detergent – No bleach, softeners, etc.
- Add tennis balls – Provides additional agitation to loosen fill.
- Rinse twice – Ensures all detergent removed.
- Tumble dry low with tennis balls.
Key Machine Washing Dos & Don’ts
- DO use delicate cycle, cold water and mild detergent
- DO air dry if possible – Less jacket wear-and-tear.
- DON’T overstuff the machine – Leave room for agitation.
- DON’T use fabric softener or dryer sheets – Affects DWR.
- DON’T wash with non-down items – Zippers can snag fabric.
- DON’T tumble dry on high heat – Can damage down.
While the washing machine provides an easier cleaning option, take care to follow these guidelines to prevent harm to your jacket. The agitation and heat of a machine are rougher on delicate down clusters versus hand washing.
Down Jacket Washing Mistakes to Avoid
Now that we’ve covered recommended washing methods, let’s talk about what NOT to do when cleaning your Mountain Hardwear jacket. Avoid these all-too-common down jacket washing mistakes:
- Overwashing – Only wash when truly dirty or oils build up. Too frequent washing degrades fabrics and downs over time.
- Using regular detergent – Harsh detergents strip natural down oils. Use a down-specific wash.
- Excessive heat – Hot water and high heat dryers damage down and fabrics. Stick to cold/cool cycles.
- Aggressive scrubbing – Vigorously rubbing can tear delicate stitching and rip baffles. Handle gently!
- Putting in the dryer wet – Always dry down jackets thoroughly before machine drying to avoid compressing wet down.
- Dryer balls/sheets – Fabric softeners coat fibers and affect breathability and DWR finish. Don’t risk it.
- Forgetting pre-treats – Grease stains and heavy soils can set without pretreating. Deal with stains before full washing.
- Overcrowding the wash – Leave room for the jacket to move around freely and fully saturate.
- Leaving in detergent – Double rinse to get rid of all soap. Detergent residue degrades fabric and down over time.
Avoid these poor washing practices, and your jacket will enjoy a much longer lifespan!
Proper Drying of Your Down Jacket
We covered washing methods, but drying is equally important. Here are some key drying tips:
- Always dry thoroughly before storing – lingering moisture encourages mildew.
- Lay flat on a drying rack or towel – avoids clumping fill.
- Dry indoors away from direct sunlight – UV rays damage fabrics.
- Fluff with tennis balls periodically – loosens wet clumps.
- No dryers! Air dry only unless washing machine dried on delicate setting.
Take the extra time to properly air dry your jacket, and you’ll be rewarded with lofty, dry down that stays cleaner longer.
Maintaining Your Down Jacket Between Washes
To maximize time between deep cleanings:
- Spot clean stains immediately
- Air out after each use – prevents odor buildup
- Use a damp cloth for light soil removal
- Store cleaned and fully dry
- Wash rainshell outer layer separately when dirty
- Consider refreshing with at-home dry cleaning spray
- Re-apply DWR treatment annually or when wetting out occurs.
With some occasional spot cleaning and air drying, you shouldn’t need to do a full wash more than 1-2 times per year.
Final Thoughts on Washing Your Mountain Hardwear Down
And there you have my full guide to cleaning and caring for your prized Mountain Hardwear down jacket!
The bottom line:
- Hand wash gently with mild down detergent for best results
- Use front-loading machine as alternative, delicate cycle only
- Avoid heating, wringing and harsh detergents
- Thoroughly air dry away from sunlight
- Maintain with spot cleaning between full washes
Treat your down jacket with care and it will provide many more years of warmth. Isn’t it worth a little extra effort? I hope these tips make washing day less intimidating so you can keep your gear in peak condition.
Now go embrace those adventures, get dirty, make memories – and then use my advice to freshen up your trusty coat to hit the trail again. Happy washing and happy trails!
Frequently Asked Questions About Washing Down Jackets
What is the best way to wash a down jacket?
Hand washing with down-specific detergent is ideal to gently clean while preserving delicate down clusters. Machine washing on delicate cycle can also work if guidelines are carefully followed.
How often should you wash a down jacket?
Only wash when soils or odors build up, about once every season or two. Too-frequent washing degrades down over time. Spot clean when possible between deep cleanings.
Can I put a down jacket in the washing machine?
Yes, use a front-loading machine on delicate cycle with mild detergent and wash 2-3 jackets at once. Be sure to double rinse and air dry thoroughly. Still, hand washing is gentler if you have the time.
What happens if you don’t wash your down jacket enough?
Not washing can lead to odors, grease buildup, mildew if stored damp, and reduced loft as dirt and oils weigh down the down. Wash whenever your jacket seems soiled or smells.
How do you dry a down jacket after washing?
Always air dry down jackets, never put wet into the dryer. Lay flat on a drying rack away from direct sunlight. Use tennis balls to fluff and break up clumps while drying.
Can you put tennis balls in the dryer with a down jacket?
Yes, adding clean tennis balls to the dryer on low heat helps fluff down and prevent clumping. But still air drying is best to avoid compressing wet down in machines.
What is the best detergent for washing down jackets?
A mild down-specific cleaner like Nikwax Down Wash, Granger’s, or Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner will gently wash while maintaining water-repellency and lubricating down clusters. Avoid regular detergents.
Can you wash down with regular detergent?
It’s best to avoid regular laundry detergent which can strip natural oils. Use a specialist down cleaner. In a pinch, use a tiny amount of wool-safe soap, rinse thoroughly and air dry well.
What happens if you dry a down jacket too quickly?
High heat drying compresses wet down before it fully dries, leading to matted clumps that lack loft and insulation. Always fully air dry down jackets before considering machine drying briefly at end on low.