A modern mudroom with jackets hanging from hooks.

How to Wash & Dry a Down Winter Coat

As the temperature gets colder outdoors, a feather down winter coat may be your go-to gear to protect against frigid weather. Keeping it clean is important for the down material’s ability to help you stay warm. With proper care, you may even extend the life of your down coat. Read on to learn how to wash a down jacket at home.

What is a down coat?

The inside filling of a down coat is made of duck, goose or a combination of these feathers. The feathers are the insulation that traps warm air and holds heat to protect you from the cold. Not all puffy coats consist of down. Instead, some are synthetic. Check the care label to confirm the type of material.

Will washing a down coat ruin it?

Washing a down coat won’t ruin it. In fact, it can help maintain the performance of your jacket in keeping you warm. Just be sure to follow the gentle care instructions on your garment label or in this guide to learn how to care for this delicate fabric and material.

Is it better to dry clean or wash a down jacket?

Avoid dry cleaning a down jacket unless the care label reads “dry clean only.” If it doesn’t specify, it’s better to machine wash your down coat on a gentle cycle. The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process may be too harsh for the delicate fabric.

How to Machine Wash & Dry Down Winter Coats

Machine washing a down jacket should be done with care and gentle on the fabric and natural material. Even though you won’t have to wash a down coat as frequently as other pieces of clothing, be prepared to spend extra time when you do. 

If your coat looks dirty or the down feathers have flattened, that may be a sign that it’s time for a cleaning. Follow along to learn how to wash a down coat. For more laundry tips, take a look at how to do laundry step by step


  • Down detergent (like Nikwax or Grangers)
  • Dryer balls (or clean tennis balls)
  • Toothbrush or sponge (optional)


  • Front load washer
  • Dryer
Clothing care label instructions icon.

Step 1: Read the label and prep down items

Check the garment tag on your jacket to confirm that it is a down material and follow the proper care instructions. This chart can offer more guidance on clothing care symbols


Empty pockets, fasten zippers and buttons.


Pretreat and spot-clean any dirt or stains using the down-specific detergent. This how-to clothing stain removal guide may help. 


Turn your jacket inside out.

Shirts icon.

Step 2: Separate from other fabrics

Wash feather down jackets and other items separately. 


Items with down material require different care techniques, wash cycles, heat settings and types of detergent when machine washed.


Detergent icon.

Step 3: Add detergent

Use a down-specific detergent for feather down items as it is more gentle on the fabric and forms fewer suds, making it easier to rinse.


Before adding your jacket to a wash load, pretreat any dirt or stains with a down-specific detergent.


Add the detergent to the dispenser or, if there isn’t one, directly into the tub. Follow the instructions on the packaging when measuring.


Washing machine icon.

Step 4: Load front load washer

Put the down jacket in your front load washer. Using a front load washer instead of a top load machine is recommended when washing this type of material. 


Protect your jacket by washing it in a mesh laundry bag if you have a top load washing machine. Keep in mind that the central agitator or impeller of a top load washer may cause extra wear and not be gentle enough for the fabric.


You also have the option of hand washing your down jacket.


Suds bubbles icon.

Step 5: Select wash setting

Choose a gentle or delicate wash cycle.


Set your machine to cold water.


Program it for an extra rinse cycle. 


Skip the spin cycle. 


Folded towel icon.

Step 6: End wash cycle

Remove your jacket with care after the wash cycle is complete. It will be heavier when wet, especially when skipping the spin cycle. 


Roll it up in a towel to squeeze and press out some of the water. It’s best not to twist, wring or shake your jacket because of the delicate fabric and it may cause the feathers to clump together. 


Washing machine icon.

Step 7: Set dryer temp

Tumble dry on a low temperature or air fluff cycle. 


Add 2 or 3 dryer balls (or clean tennis balls) to your dryer. This can help fluff the down feathers to gain extra loft in your jacket. 


Expect a long dry cycle and only remove your jacket once it’s completely dry.


How do I make my down jacket fluffy again?

The key is to fluff your jacket with dryer balls or clean tennis balls during the dry cycle. They help prevent laundry from clumping together by tumbling between layers and separating fabric. This action allows air to circulate better, which can even help reduce drying time.

Can I recycle my old down jacket?

If you’re ready to upgrade to a new down jacket, consider donating your old winter coat. Research local coat drives and non-profit organizations who donate coats and other winter items to those in need. You may also want to consider consignment or thrift shops to avoid tossing your coat into a landfill.

Explore Maytag® Washers & Dryers

Whether you’re washing gentle care items like a down jacket or keeping up with everyday laundry, Maytag® washers and dryers have features designed for performance, control and convenience. Browse options with innovative features like Extra Power, the Pet Pro System for homes with pets or the 16-Hr Fresh Hold® option, which keeps clean clothes smelling fresh for up to 16 hours.

Discover more laundry tips with Maytag®

Was this article helpful? Pass it on