The When-to-Wash-It Handbook: Winter Edition
A straightforward guide to laundering cold-weather staples from parkas to wool pants.
Down Parkas and Vests
How often you should wash them: two times a season.
Washing guidelines: Overwashing down causes the feathers to break, so twice a season is plenty. Machine wash puffy outerwear in cold water with a non-detergent product, like Nikwax Down Wash ($9.50, rei.com), since “detergents and dry cleaning flatten the feathers,” says Rachel Cerny, an apparel designer for Sierra Designs.
What else you should know: After washing (or if your puffy coat is squashed), let it tumble dry on low with three clean tennis balls to redistribute the feathers. “To prevent the down from clumping, make sure the coat is totally dry, even if it takes several cycles,” says Rick Griffin, the director of quality assurance for the North Face.