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washing goose down
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Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
washing goose down on 09/06/2011 20:55:20 MDT Print View

I've washed down-filled gear a few times in the past, all of them successful. Recently I washed my Marmot Helium. Due to a hectic back-to-school schedule the process ended up being a bit disjointed. I washed the bag at a coin-op laundry in an oversize front-loader, but did the majority of the drying in a residential drier. Furthermore, I wasn't able to 'de-clump' the bag as frequently as I should have. I tried one final 'touch up' in a commercial drier today, but I can't get rid of some small clumps.

As I understand it, the solution likely involves re-washing the bag and doing the drying process properly. What I'm trying to figure out is if I can simply perform a 'rinse' to re-wet the down, then dry it again; or should I included a wash using Down Wash? Seems to me I should avoid unnecessary soap exposure to prevent premature stripping of natural oils etc., but as always I'm curious about the experiences of others and would love some input.

Edited by jasonpicard on 09/06/2011 20:56:04 MDT.

a b
Tennis Balls on 09/06/2011 21:20:18 MDT Print View

Have you tried putting tennis balls into the dryer with your bag?
Personally i would just put your dry, clumpy bag back into a big commercial dryer on "no-heat" with a bunch of tennis balls.. like 6 or 10 or as many as you can get.
If the bag is still a tiny bit damp just alternate between no heat and low heat every few minutes.
This has always done the trick for me and my friends.
If this fails to do the trick after 30 minutes, You might have some soap left in the down causing the clumpiness.
Perhaps then you might consider as rinse or re-wash with down soap.

Edited by Ice-axe on 09/06/2011 21:22:39 MDT.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
washing goose down on 09/07/2011 06:09:06 MDT Print View

Thanks Matt! I think I'm going to re-do the whole process from scratch, this time washing the bag in my bath tub instead of a machine. I'll post the results.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Washing down on 09/07/2011 09:33:44 MDT Print View

Jason, I'd advise hand washing and drying down bags and sweaters, particularly those with today's lightweight fabrics. I've had a bag (more than one) ripped when drying with tennis balls. Picking apart the clumps is tedious but less of a pain than sending a bag out for repairs.


Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
hand drying? on 09/07/2011 09:43:36 MDT Print View

Richard, do you mean air drying and breaking up clumps by hand, or still using a front-load dryer?

Vince Contreras
(pillowthread) - F

Locale: like, in my head???
How dirty was it to begin with? on 09/07/2011 10:05:41 MDT Print View

I'd advise against a back-to-back double wash, unless your bag had clumps before you washed it, indicating that a good bit of your body oils was already in the down.

I'd definitely do the tennis ball thing before I washed it all over again, as to double-wash it could easily strip too much oil from your down, which is also a regrettable situation.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: washing goose down on 09/07/2011 13:01:23 MDT Print View

I've washed many down bags and garments by hand in our bathtub. Just be sure NOT to squeeze any part of the item with your hand, just use the flat of your hands to press down to get water to move through it. I've always dried things in our home drier with a few tennis balls thrown in. I've never had problems (except once when I squeezed the garment while washing and got lumps that eventually came out with usage, but didn't in the drier).

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: RE: washing goose down on 09/07/2011 13:40:07 MDT Print View

Do remove the goose first ;)

+1 on using tennis balls and no-heat tumble again. If that doesn't work, I would run it though a rinse cycle and dry again with the tennis balls and low heat in a big dryer. I don't think a full wash cycle with detergent is needed and is just more stress on the materials.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Front load dryer on 09/07/2011 14:11:41 MDT Print View

Jason - yes, use a front load dryer. Hand drying still requires removing the clumps. After that I air dry them. Richard

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
washing goose down on 09/07/2011 15:31:58 MDT Print View

I did very well following the directions on the Western Mountaineering website, including the products they specify. I was able to use my DIL's extra large capacity frontloading washer (with extra delicate cycle) and dryer. No tennis balls were needed. It did take most of the day, though--I started by running a wash through the empty machine to remove detergent residue at 10 am. The sleeping bag wasn't completely dry until 9 pm.

The bag actually came out with a bit more loft than when it was new!

Be sure to renew the DWR on the shell when you wash!

I agree with removing the goose, tee hee!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/07/2011 15:33:22 MDT.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
front load dryer on 09/08/2011 05:10:37 MDT Print View

Well, I'm almost done getting this bag dried again. I re-rinsed it at home in the bathtub, and ran it through an oversized front-loader at the local coin-op laundry. However, I ran out of time last night (they close at 11pm). So I've carefully draped the bag over some furniture in my living room with my jumbo floor fan pointed at it all night. Hopefully this will keep the drying process happening until I can get back to the laundromat today . . . somewhere in all of this I've got classes to attend!

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Tennis Balls? on 09/08/2011 05:32:05 MDT Print View

Wow, tennis balls? Really? Doesn't seem like they'd have enough mass to do any good. I've always washed my bags and jackets by hand in the tub, then dried them in my dryer at home on low heat with a pair of clean tennis shoes tossed in. The shoes are LOUD banging around in there, and sometimes they'll knock the dryer door open, but they sure get the job done. Never had any damage to the bags either. It does take many hours though.


Edited by swearingen on 09/08/2011 05:32:41 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Tennis Balls? on 09/08/2011 06:31:23 MDT Print View

Tennis balls have enough mass for the task at hand. Shoes on the other hand would make me nervous with the lightweight shell fabrics used these days. Overkill.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
tennis balls on 09/08/2011 14:41:58 MDT Print View

I opted to use a half dozen new tennis balls in the dryer along with the bag. To be honest, I'm NOT convinced they do much, but at the rate I'm going through quarters at the laundromat I figure it can't hurt. My bag's now almost 100% dry, but I'll run it in the dryer a little more tonight (after another hour of lecture) to finish it off. I've been using the giant front-loaders, set to medium heat. I have stopped it mid-cycle to check temperatures, and low heat was effectively 'no heat' and medium turns out to be quite low temp. Perhaps a tactic to get patrons to pump in more coins?

Edited by jasonpicard on 09/08/2011 16:45:10 MDT.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
washing goose down - frustrated! on 09/08/2011 22:05:47 MDT Print View

Okay, I've now dropped $60 in quarters at the local coin-op, attended my bag diligently between cycles during all my free time for the past two days, and STILL my bag has clumps that won't go away. I've spent HOURS now carefully breaking them up by hand, and I just don't have the spare time to continue. Has anyone else experienced this? I was careful to rinse the bag 3 times by hand, and once more in a front-load washer. I can't figure out what's not working here.

I'm literally out of time for this little project, and am thinking I'll leave the mostly-dry bag in front of a large fan at home. Going through the bag to get all the tiny clumps takes 45 minutes + each time. Can I just leave it to finish drying? Again, it's mostly dry, but full of tiny clumps here and there.

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
tub washing on 09/08/2011 22:34:37 MDT Print View

any tips on tub washing down gear?

also, has anyone used these instead of tennis balls? recommended or?

a b
De-clumping Down bag on 09/08/2011 22:35:39 MDT Print View

This is truly bizarre.
This demands a bizarre solution.
I recommend sleeping in your bag every night.. even at home.
Actually I am currently sleeping in my MLD Spirit Quilt 30 every night. I don't know what it is, but after 400 bag nights in the last 3 years i can't get use to the feeling of sheets anymore.
I am thinking that using your bag at this point might de-clump whats left.
The Marmot Helium is a solid bag.
I have two Western Mountaineering bags myself but a lot of my PCT buddies used the Helium and from what they tell me it was fine after laundering.
Sleep in it for a week at home and see if that doesn't fix it up.
Post script: I just re-read you last post. You say the bag is "mostly dry".
This is unusual. If you spent 60 bucks on a dryer on medium heat the thing should be dryer than the Mojave.
At this point i would set the bag out in the sunshine during the day and sleep in it at night.
If it is still wet, the sun during the day combined with your body heat and thrashing at night will surely do the trick.
By the way, I learned a trick from my thru hiker buddies. Even when you sleep in a down bag every night with a sweaty dirty body for months, the majority of the dirt and oil is simply on the surface of shell's inside fabric.
My buddy Daylate (PCT09) and Piper (PCT08,09) both simply washed the shell of their bags by wiping it with a damp soapy cloth and set the bag in the sun to dry.
They only wash their bag thoroughly once in 2,665 miles or about 140 bag nights.
I do the same.
Unless you spill soup in your bag.. or other things (i had giardiasis for 2 weeks on the PCT.. enough said) you should wash a down bag sparingly to preserve the natural oils in the down.
The sun has the amazing power to de-stink-ify even the stinkiest bag.
Trust the sun!

Edited by Ice-axe on 09/08/2011 22:57:16 MDT.

Don Wilson
(nodiak) - F

Locale: Humboldt County coast, CA.
call Marmot. Tell them the story. on 09/08/2011 23:01:16 MDT Print View

I've found them to be helpful and know their products. Fwiw i wash and dry down bags while keeping them in their large cotton storage bag to keep water weight stresses to a minimum. Started doing double rinses. 5-6 hours drying usually. Maybe not drying in one stage caused the excessive clumping?

Edited by nodiak on 09/08/2011 23:02:57 MDT.

Jason Picard
(jasonpicard) - F
washing goose down on 09/09/2011 13:10:06 MDT Print View

So as suggested I emailed Marmot Mountain Canada today, and they promptly responded by asking me to send the bag in. I've put it in the mail, and it should get there late next week. Hopefully they can solve it somehow . . . . I really wasn't intending for this to be a 'warranty' type thing at all, that bag's been a lot of places with me and I hope it will be on many many more adventures.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Just wondering on 09/09/2011 14:09:19 MDT Print View

What brand of down wash did you use