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Thread: Washing down

  1. #1
    New Member nthAirguy's Avatar
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    Washing down

    I want to wash/clean my down filled top quilt. I was planning on using dawn. I use dawn for all my merino wool, it's gentle and leaves the wool very soft. I don't feel like buying special "down soap" unless it's worth it. What do you guys use? Also, anyone feel the need to wash a brand new quilt? I know I don't need to, but I know how it's recommended to wash new clothes before wearing them, which I usually do.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnSawyer's Avatar
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    Given the cost of down, I'd just buy nikwash.. $10 is good insurance...

    That said, I see no reason to wash a new quilt...
    "Do or do not, there is no try." -- Yoda


  3. #3
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    I agree with JS. I'd only wash it if you have some serious soaked in funk going on. If there is just a small area needing attention, or surface oils, better to spot clean with a moist towel and a tiny amount of soap. If you have to wash the whole thing, use a down specific soap like JS mentioned in a big laudromat front loader. And dry slow, long, and with lots of clean tennis balls or the like to break up clumps.

    I have a down bag that I inherited from my father that's 40 years old and has only been washed maybe a dozen times over the years and is still got great loft. My wife and I also have a double wide bag who's loft is barely half of what it was as we have made the mistake of washing it a couple times when we should have just spot cleaned.
    Last edited by BER; 05-20-2011 at 07:54.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Do Not use Dawn. You should never use detergents on down. It strips the oils and contributes to a loss of loft. If you don't want to spring for a special down soap (penny wise/pound foolish IMO) the use Ivory flakes or some natural soap. Commercial front loader and very low heat dryer. The washing doesn't take too long but be prepared to feed the dryer a lot. IMO do NOT use a home dryer. They do not have the room to allow the quilt to tumble freely. Even with tennis balls you will end up with major clumps.

    Washing new clothes is recommended in order to remove sizing and shipping chemicals from the garment before you wear it. A quality vendor, especially of down goods, is very unlikely to treat their products with those chemicals. I would see no reason to wash it.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  5. #5
    Senior Member PackBacker81's Avatar
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    Agreed, no detergents... I always use Nikwax down wash. Check out this link at Backpacker Magazine here. Instructions are toward the bottom.

    IMO, no need to wash it when it's brand new though.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Law Dawg (ret)'s Avatar
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    My old down gear got dirty honestly (it will be the same with the new stuff), no need to wash them. Now a freshen up tumble in the drier (or a shake out and stint on a clothes line), that's another story. Unless the grunge is just unbearable...let it be.

    On another note. Has anyone found a dry cleaner that knows how to treat down gear or would that be a no no?
    Mark is the name and If there is more than one way to understand what I just said....I meant the good one.

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    Senior Member PackBacker81's Avatar
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    I believe I've read dry cleaning is a no-no... I'm sure someone out there will verify if true.

  8. #8

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    Let the Pros do it instead.

    I just got my 30 year old Camp 7 down sleeping bag back from Rainy Pass Repair and it's got the loft that it did when it was new, and no stains. They do a great job. http://www.rainypass.com/index.htm

  9. #9
    Senior Member Law Dawg (ret)'s Avatar
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    When it comes to down, it is important that it be cleaned properly. Common household detergents may cling to down fibers and reduce the loft and efficiency of your down item. Dry cleaning will affect your down products in the same way. A professional cleaning with down-friendly detergents will revitalize the loft of your down product.
    Thanks for the link dac01, question answered and a good resource for my 30+ year old Camp 7 gear.
    Mark is the name and If there is more than one way to understand what I just said....I meant the good one.

    Earth First! We'll dirt bike ride the other planets later.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Some down products are labeled Dry Clean Only by the manufacturer. That is wrong in all cases. Normal Perc cleaners will destroy down. Never take down to a dry cleaner when it is easy enough to do yourself if you follow the guidelines the down distributors lay out.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

    We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series

    Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies

    Bobbin Tension - A Personal Viewpoint

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