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  1. #1
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    Cleaning & Re-Lofting Down

    So i plan on making a DIY underquilt, and i have a down sleeping bag (although its a bit old and tired)

    So i've been reading up on how to clean and re-loft the bag....

    Can i use baby shampoo (as this is very mild) and give it a clean in lukewarm water in my bath??

    Then is it just a case of waiting until its dried and then throw it in the tumble drier for a little bit?


    or am i going to ruin the down

  2. #2

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    Not sure about baby shampoo. Drier needs to be big enough to let the bag tumble. Need something in it to pound the down loose while tumbling on low to medium heat.

  3. #3
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    its not a very big drier...

    might find a friend with a large tumbler.

  4. #4
    dragon360's Avatar
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    This might help a little - here.

    To dry, i put it on air dry and throw in five or so tennis balls to help pound the wet down loose.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member DemostiX's Avatar
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    What you need more than anything is a washing machine of any kind for its centrifuge action in extracting water from the wet down. Do that even though you will not wash a down quilt in a washer using its agitator. There is minimal cost to additional rinses. Let the spin / centrifuge action run its full course after every rinse.

    I don't find original documentation on soaps and detergents and down, just repetition of the admonishment to avoid "harsh" ones, the kind that has been selling "Woolite" for 50+ years. Some of the best detergents today, including those that work well in cold water, contain enzymes. I don't find any mention of them in standard lore. Down as we get it is already highly processed to remove dust, dirt, and spores and to sterilize it, heated and held at over 250F for over fifteen minutes to accomplish that sterilization.

    I direct the soap / detergent where I especially want it, spraying a soapy solution on fabric around where heads and hands have been. That's where most of the grease and surface dirt is, not in the down.

    The recommendation of Western Mountaineering is to stop the drier occasionally to find and manually break up all clumps of wet down and to turn the garment inside out so the other side is exposed to the heat source. Works well for me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member streamline's Avatar
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    First off the link will give me $10 for anyone that joins but I thought this was a great price for down cleaner and waterproofer. Can't beat $10 for the kit.

    theclymb : Down Care Kit

  7. #7
    Member 4WLO's Avatar
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    Does this technique work with pillows too? I have a few old down pillows laying around. No one uses them anymore and I had thought about recycling the down.

  8. #8
    Senior Member G.L.P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4WLO View Post
    Does this technique work with pillows too? I have a few old down pillows laying around. No one uses them anymore and I had thought about recycling the down.
    you got to watch down from pillows and house quilts ... it's more feathers than down most of the time

    make sure it's a high fill power first anything over 550 ... 750-800 is best
    the lower the fill power the more will be needed to make your quilt... and more down means more weight

    to be honest your better off just getting down from a vendor.....
    It puts the Underquilt on it's hammock ... It does this whenever it gets cold

  9. #9
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    Dreft powder baby laundry soap is considered acceptable for washing down gear, better than that would be Down Wash by Nikwax as it is very gentle and will clean and condition the down. I wash and rinse by hand any down goods in a clean bathtub...lots of rinsing is critical, get all of the soap out of the gear, then tuble dry with just air or low heat. Check frequently to see that there are no hot spots in the drier as they can burn nylon. And like mentioned before throw in a tennis ball or two. It makes a heck of a racket but it will help to brake up the clumping of the wet down and will re-loft the gear.
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  10. #10
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    I just went through this last week with a used sleeping bag. I basically followed the instructions on Western Mountaineering's website as linked to in an earlier post. I used Nikwax Down Wash, a product I have been using for several years, albeit mostly on down jackets and vests.

    My first step was to weigh the bag so I would have a baseline weight that I could use to judge when the bag was finally dry. I figured the cleaned and dried bag should weigh the same or less than it did before the wash.

    I hand washed in a bath tub and rinsed four times. I rolled the bag up to help drain excess water. When moving the bag from the tub to the washing machine for a spin cycle, I carried the bag in a large bowl so I wouldn't risk a piece of the bag escaping my grip and tearing a baffle.

    After a spin cycle, into the dryer at little to no heat. I dried the bag for several hours and manually broke up down clumps every 15 minutes or so. As the bag came closer to being dry, I threw in some 'sock balls' (bunch of socks balled up one inside the other) to help break up clumps.

    About 6 hours of dryer time later, the bag weighed 3/4oz less than when I started and I was satisfied that it was both clean and dry.

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