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Washing a down quilt
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Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Washing a down quilt on 05/19/2013 01:25:53 MDT Print View

I have a Katabatic Gear down quilt and think it's time for a wash. On their website, it says to use a "down-friendly detergent" but doesn't suggest any brand names.

I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with what that means, i.e do I need a specific detergent for down or will Tide do?

Any suggestions?

Renais A
not regular laundry detergent on 05/19/2013 04:56:51 MDT Print View

Regular laundry detergents will strip the oils from down and reduce the loft of your quilt. There are special down wash soaps available such as Nikwax down wash which will preserve the natural oils in the down. Be sure to go through multiple rinses to get all the soap out, and handle the quilt carefully when wet. A wet down quilt can be heavy, and baffles can be torn by rough handling.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Washing a down quilt on 05/19/2013 07:20:32 MDT Print View

As Jim was saying, do not use anything but down wash. Nikwax and Graingers supply about the best products in the category.

Do not use any machine with an agitator. Not so much for the down itself, but for the shells on bags/quilts. Double rinse: put it trough a second wash/rinse with no soap. Dry it thuroughly, and, hang the bag about a day or two to be sure.

You can also do this by hand, in a bathtub. But, it will need at least three full rinses and hand agitaton. Be carfull about agitation, as Jim said, the internal baffles can often be torn easily, if you have them. Usually, your manufaturor will tell you what material is used if you ask. Fold the bag/quilt 2 or three times and lift it out from the bottom and place it in the sink to let it drain as you empty the tub and refill it.

Down products can be washed after each trip, but do not over-do it. Keep track of how many days out you have had it. I try to stick as closely as possible to 14 nights before washing. I drop it in the dryer with some dryer balls (tennis balls work well, too) instead of washing between trips. This helps to restore any loft lost from compressing in a pack and removes any residual dampness. Shaking it out really well works, too. Again, general timing for washing is about every two weeks of use, or, as soon as I get home. I have gone as long as a couple months but the bag starts loosing loft after about two weeks.

Down is made of a carotene material. There is some oils embedded in the make up of most duck/goose feathers. Removing this oil will damage the down badly. Never use detegents, or, harsh soaps. The goal is to remove any oils from your body, not the embedded oils making up part of the structure. This can be difficult since even mild soaps like down wash do a bit of damage. Soaps and detergents are pretty much the same, except for the strength of thier action on down.


Locale: Western Michigan
Washing Down Equipment - TWO Recommendations on 05/19/2013 08:44:25 MDT Print View

WASHING - Nunatak Gear

1. Only use commercial washer and dryers. The reason for this is that most household washers have agitators (pinnacle of plastic that sticks up inside the washing machine) that twist and turn as the machine does its job; these household washers will rip a down sleeping bag to shreds. Also, the common household dryer is far too small and can melt your gear.
2. Only use "down soap." This can be purchased at just about any outdoor retail shop.
3. Prepare the garment by trying to get off all loose dirt, dust, debris, etc.
4. Once at the Laundromat, place the garment inside a large washing machine and start the machine on gentle cycle, warm water. Double rinse or until clear water drains from item.
5. Only use about 2/3 the amount of soap that the down-soap-bottle manufacturer suggests, for most down garment manufacturers use somewhat bad down (600-700+ fill), whereas Nunatak only uses the best 800+ fill that can be found, which also means that much less soap is needed when washing the garment or sleeping bag.
**Once the item is done with the washing cycle it is important to follow the remaining steps very carefully. **
6. The item will look quite strange once out of the washing machine and through the spin cycle. The down will naturally be all clumped together and water-logged; this is normal, don't freak out. It IS important though, that from now until the item is dry you take very CAREFUL steps in the process of drying.
7. Before putting the item in the dryer, place in on a flat and clean surface. Take a clean towel and press it against the down jacket to try and soak any excess water out of the down clumps. (Don't press really hard though, just medium resistance) This allows the down to squeeze out any excess water before the drying process begins. Do this for about 10 minutes on a full sized sleeping bag.
8. Take the item over to the LARGE COMMERCIAL TUMBLE DRYER and place inside. Dryer HEAT OUTPUT VARIES GREATLY from machine to machine. Medium heat is usually sufficient, but uses your best judgment. Let it run for5-10 minutes and pull the item out to check the temp and begin step 9/10.
9. Now that the item has had some time, you want to hand separate the clumps of 800+ fill down, both by patting and gently pulling clumps apart.
10. Return to the dryer for another 15 minute or so spin. Repeat ad infinitum. Get that bag warm and repeat step8/ 9/10. You might need to do this many times, so really try to get the down in a uniform clump size, so that you can maximize drying surface area. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DON'T TRY TO USE OBJECTS TO SHORTCUT THE WORK; THE SHOE OR TENNIS BALL MAY TEAR OR DAMAGE THE DOWN GARMENT /SLEEPING BAG.

WASHING - Feathered Friends
Machine Washing
•Use the largest front-loading commercial washer you can find. Do not use top-loading washers with agitators; they will damage your garment or sleeping bag
•Use down soap such as Nikwax Down Wash or ReviveX Down Cleaner Concentrate. These specially formulated cleaners will help to preserve the natural oils in the down while still getting your item clean and restoring its loft. In a pinch, you can use mild, non-detergent soap diluted with water. Never use bleach, bleach-alternatives or fabric softener.
•Apply soap directly to heavily soiled or stained areas and soak for up to one hour
•Be sure to turn garments and sleeping bags inside out prior to washing. Water will escape through the lining material more easily than it will through the water resistant or waterproof shell material during the spin cycle
•Use the normal, cold water cycle, with a cold water rinse
•Run through a complete second cycle without soap. This will ensure that the soap residue is completely rinsed out
•Carefully wring as much water out of the bag as possible before attempting to lift it. Although we use a durable tricot baffling material, the down in your garment or sleeping bag will be heavy when wet, making it easier to tear the baffles inside the item if it is not handled carefully
Hand Washing
•Fill a large wash basin or bathtub with cold water
•Use down soap such as Nikwax Down Wash or ReviveX Down Cleaner Concentrate. Never use bleach, bleach-alternatives or fabric softener
•Apply soap directly to heavily soiled or stained areas and soak for up to one hour
•Gently knead the item from one end to the other making sure that all of the down is soaked and there are no air pockets
•Rinse several times with cold water until the water runs clear and all of the soap is rinsed out of the bag
•Carefully wring as much water out of the bag as possible before attempting to lift it

Drying can easily be the most time intensive step in cleaning down items. This is especially true with larger down garments, sleeping bags, and comforters where the drying process can typically take several hours. It is important to dry your down products properly, and not to cut corners. For maximum effectiveness, do not flat or hang dry down items.
•Move your product from washer to the dryer. Always carefully carry down products from the underside while they are saturated with water
•Use the largest front-loading commercial dryer you can find, set to medium heat
•During the drying process, it is important to periodically go through the item and manually break up the clumps of down that have formed during the wash process
•Make sure your items are completely dry before storing them

DWR Replenishment
The Durable Water Repellant (DWR) finish that is used on all of our technical fabrics will need to be replenished from time to time. If you notice that water is no longer beading up on the surface of your garment or sleeping bag, wash the item and then dry it on medium heat for 30-45 minutes to re-activate the DWR finish. If this doesn’t work, you will need to apply a DWR replenishing treatment such as Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On or ReviveX Spray-On Water Repellant. Follow the DWR manufacturers’ directions