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How to Wash Insulated Clothing
Published: Dec 11, 2020
Clothing with synthetic insulation usually consists of a windproof material on the outer, with a smooth or fairly rough surface. These lightweight fabrics have been treated to make them water-repellent. The synthetics used for the insulation are super thin, with a continuous filament that weaves around, interlocking with itself. Warmth is then retained in the spaces in between, resulting in an insulating effect.
Down clothing may be one of our biggest investments, and it may also come as one of the top essentials in our gear list. Therefore, it is important that we properly care for it. It can be a terrifying thought washing these types of jackets, because of the fear of ruining them, and not being able to fix them. However, with proper knowledge of techniques and materials, washing insulated clothing can be a piece of cake.
Washing insulated clothing will help get rid of smells and stains, and will also help revive the fluff in the down-feathers. So, it is okay to wash them from time to time, but do not overdo it. Washing these types of jackets can also restore and improve their performance. So, how do you wash insulated clothing, you may ask?
To wash synthetic insulated clothing, you have to choose a gentle laundry detergent, or a down-safe detergent, and wash on a gentle cycle with warm water. Then, dry for 30 minutes on low heat. You can also add tennis balls to the dryer, as this can help increase the jacket's fluff and loft.
Washing insulated clothing may also be done by hand, with special soap and cold water. Note that you always have to check the care label of each garment in order to know what you can and cannot do.
For a more in-depth process on how to wash insulated garments, read our guide below.
How to wash down insulated clothing
- Check all of the pockets;
- Close all zippered pockets, plus the front zip;
- Choose any down-safe detergent;
- Wash on a gentle cycle for top-loading washing machines, and wash on a regular cycle for front-loading, with the use of warm water;
- And dry the garment on low heat for about 30 minutes.
- You may add tennis balls to the dryer for 5 minutes to help increase fluff and loft.
Washing down insulated clothing is not as hard as it might seem; you just have to follow a couple of basic rules, so you don't have to worry about ruining your favorite jacket. What we have are general guidelines that can be followed for most down insulated garments, however, it is always better to consult the care label on the clothing, and check with the manufacturer for the best results.
Before putting anything in the washing machine, it's best to check the pockets first. Then, you have to close all of the zippered pockets to make sure that they don't fill with water. Also wash down insulated garments with the front zipper shut to allow for a more gentle wash.
Make sure to wash technical clothing alone, or with one or two alike items to avoid mixing your down garment in with your regular laundry. Follow the instructions written on your down-safe detergent to be able to select the proper water temperature and cycle. All in all, it is best to use warm, and neither hot nor cold water, on a regular or gentle cycle.
To hand wash down insulated clothing, you can either opt to soak it in a sink for about an hour, or just wash it by hand. Either way, make sure to never wring it dry. Instead, follow the instructions below on how to dry these types of clothing.
How to wash synthetic insulated clothing
- Check all of the pockets;
- Zip all pockets, and shut the front zip;
- Choose any special detergent for technical gear and fabrics;
- Wash on a gentle cycle for top-loading washing machines, and wash on a regular cycle for front-loading, with warm water;
- Hand wash if recommended;
- Then, dry the garment on low heat for about 30 minutes.
- You may add tennis balls to the dryer for 5 minutes to help increase loft.
When cleaning synthetic garments, it is important to wash it as you would with all your functional textiles; wash at 30°C, and avoid using fabric softener. Also, avoid washing at a high temperature, because the fabric can thin out, become matted, or damaged in some other way. This can also be damaged when you use fabric softener. Additionally, if you don't care for your garment the right way, any damage done to your clothing will no longer be covered by warranty. So make sure to care for these expensive gear properly. It is also best if you wash your gear yourself, because having it done by cleaners will result in you losing warranty coverage as well.
You then have to reproof the outer face fabric of your wet garment with a DWR spray. Keep in mind that whether you choose to use a DWR spray or a wash-in treatment, the result will still be the same.
How to dry synthetic insulated clothing?
After applying the water-repellent spray, the clothing will have to be exposed to warmth for the treatment to fully set in. And the easiest way to do this is by using a dryer. Heat adds in rejuvenating the fill power of the insulating material. So, put your wet and treated garment in the dryer at a low temperature for about 45 minutes.
You can tumble dry on the lowest heat setting available, and make sure to check the clothing occasionally to make sure it is not overheating.
How to dry down insulated clothing?
Heat is required to dry your down insulated clothing, but you have to be extra careful so that you don't overheat it while drying, as too much heat can damage the down insulation. However, this does not mean that you can't put down insulated clothing in the dryer.
To dry your insulated garments, set your dryer on a low setting, and dry for around 30 minutes. If it is still not dry, you can hang it dry until it is, or you can also put it back in the dryer for an additional 20 minutes, but you have to resist the urge to turn up the heat. Thus, patience is key. Adding some tennis balls to the dryer along with the clothing, for five to ten minutes, will also help break up any clumps of the down insulation, which can increase the loft and make the clothing nice and puffy.
The reason why it is not recommended to use a higher heat setting is that you could risk damaging or melting the seams of the outer shell fabric on your down clothing. Please, note that the drying process may take a couple hours, so you have to be patient.
What detergent to use when washing insulated clothing?
When washing down insulated clothing, it is important to always use a down-safe detergent, and not just any regular laundry detergent. There are a few outdoors companies, like NikWax for example, that manufacture specific detergents that are guaranteed not to damage the down feathers. Regular laundry detergents are not recommended because they can strip away the natural oils in the down, making it clumpy and less fluffy.
Repairing insulated clothing
Once your gear is clean and dry, it is best to inspect it carefully for tears and abrasion, especially on high-risk or high-wear areas. If the synthetic insulated clothing has rips, punctures, or any tear on the fabric, you can repair them with fabric tape, or even duct tape. For down insulated clothing, you have to make sure that the tear or hole is completely sealed. Otherwise, the down may be lost. You can also repair it using a needle and thread, or you can choose a special kind of patch or repair tape as well.
How often should you wash insulated clothing?
Insulated clothing should be washed when it gets dirty or smelly. But with outdoor gear, it may be hard to tell when it's dirty. Washing your insulated clothing can help revive the insulation, and make it puffier and warmer. If your garment has a waterproof coating, this can also be restored by washing and drying. It is best to wash insulated clothing at least every 4 months.
Outdoor clothing can be washed as frequently as necessary, but as occasionally as possible. What this means is that you don't have to wash the clothing every other day, because doing so may cause some damage to the fabric. On the other hand, all that salt, oil, and debris left on the garment from your outdoor adventures can also have a negative impact on the performance. Thus, they should only be washed when you're convinced that it needs some deep cleaning. Otherwise, you can just opt for spot-cleaning. There is no general rule as to how often or when you should wash your insulated clothing; some may have to wash it immediately after an activity, while others may do so after weeks of outdoor adventures.
You can wash your synthetic clothing when you feel like you should but if you just wear it casually and don't use it for sports, then you can wash it about every three months, or as often as needed.
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