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Thread: Washing down

  1. #21
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Not all dry cleaners understand the process of cleaning down. If they use perc they will strip the oils and such from the down effectively ruining it. Before I took it to a dry cleaner I would want to know what process they use for down. Personally I would go to the laundromat and use one of the commercial sized front loaders. Just be careful. Some laundromats do not allow down items in their washers because if the item bursts the down can cause very costly clogs to the plumbing. Make sure it is in good shape. Use a gentle cycle and a good down cleaner like the nikwax. Don't try it in a home washer. They ain't big enuf.

    When you dry it throw in a few clean tennis balls and use a very low heat setting. It will take a long time to dry but you want to do it right.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  2. #22
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2007
    Belleville, ON

    Minimum of washing....

    I have had down bags my whole life. And I have washed down bags maybe 5 times. In 40 years I have had two bags. The first is still functional, but I bought a "new" one back around 1990/1991.

    How many nights use between washings? Well I typically have 30 nights or more a year in my bag and I wash it when it gets dirty, and heavy such that proper airing and drying won't restore loft. Usually this is 5 or so years.

    Often low loft is the result of not fully airing/drying the bag of transpired moisture from sleeping in it, and then storing it. Rather than from oil or dirt compromising the down. The reason is fabric tight enough to keep down in, is also going to let very little oil or dirt through.

    Finally wear clean clothes in your bag each night. They tough, they wash easily, and the absorb the oils and dirt rather than the bag. Air your bag each day after sleeping in it, if at all possible. Even in winter this works well to dry it out and redue moisture in it. Shake/tumble/fluff it regularly to prevent the down clumping, even with mild moisture accumulation it will tend to bunch up.

    Wash it rarely, rinse it extremely well when you do and tumble dry in a big dryer with balls or a clean shoe or two to break clumps and fluff it up. Hang to air for the final round. Store uncompressed either in a large breathable bag or hanging in a closet. Work protruding down back into the bag rather than pulling it out. Over decades pulling it will significantly reduce fill and the loft of the item.
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  3. #23
    Senior Member DemostiX's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
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    JacksRBetter and Western Mountaineering both have extensive instructions for cleaning (washing, handling, drying,fluffing) down garments.

    It's all there. Every step.

    Like splicing, it goes slowly the first times, and you can screw it up. But take those two serioius makers very seriously in all the steps and care.

    Big tip: Put your quilt in the soapy water while it is stuffed. In that condition, the maximum amount of air has already been removed. If you can keep it submerged while pulling it from the sack, you'll have an easier time of getting the water into the chambers.

    Keep the garment away from the agitator of a washer. But, do use a washer's spin cycle to centrifuge dirty and then clean water from it. Drying will be faster.

    Maybe not mentioned in this thread is the threat of mildew. I doubt that new, sterile down is subject to it; but once mildew spores are there, the garment must be thorougly dried out soon after getting wet, within 24 hours, according to authorities. That is the point of the tennis balls (or breaking up clumps by hand) in the drier. It isn't just that the clumps don't loft; it is that they hold moisture, so they grow rank with mildew. So, absolutely and thoroughly dry, ASAP.
    Last edited by DemostiX; 09-19-2011 at 18:19.

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