The best way to clean puffy coats

Winter has officially started, and I have yet to dig out my puffy coats. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are still wearing our raincoats ( we had about an inch of rain yesterday). While I love the rain, I still look forward to the possibility of snow. It’s a rare treat in these parts.

A few years ago, the trend toward puffy coats started. I feel like the popularity has slowed somewhat but they are still everywhere you look. I must admit, I own a few and they are my go to garment for warmth in the winter months (the rain not so much).

Care for these down filled treasures correctly and they will last for many cold, blustery winter seasons. Regardless of the internal contents of these puffy coats the cleaning of them is relatively simple. Please remove the hood if applicable. Sometimes the hood has a faux fur trim around the edge that is not agreeable with the heat in the dryer.

Some people get intimidated by the thought of how to clean such a garment, and they run to the dry cleaners for professional help. Not necessary, unless you just want the piece of mind that comes from not having to deal with it. Just know it comes at a price. If your puffy coat has a trim of faux fur, a little more caution must be taken to ensure proper care of it ( see my previous post regarding this topic). In most, if not all cases, the puffy coat styles cleans up best in the washing machine. Some pre treatment of general soil may be necessary on the cuffs and down the front prior to washing. I generally spray the pre treatment generously on the cuffs, the front zipper placket, and the pocket edges. Wait a few minutes and then take a medium bristle brush and scrub the area over the sink prior to washing. Sometimes I have to repeat the scrubbing process a few times to get a good amount of the grime out. I always wash on the cold water setting for coats for best results.

The key step in this process is in the drying. When you take that down puffy coat out of the washing machine it is a lumpy (and scary) mess. You may feel like you have ruined it, but you have not. The key to getting a good tumble in the dryer for adequate air flow and feather redistribution is a few new/clean tennis balls, or wool dryer balls if you have any. I love using my own dryer balls because I can spray them with my dryer ball spray and stay away from those chemically dryer sheets. Make sure there are only a few things in the dryer at the time of drying your puffy coat, air flow is key to a reduced dry time. I always dry on the low/coolest setting to ensure minimal shrinkage.

THIS IS THE KEY!!!!! You MUST use tennis balls or dryer balls to redistribute the feathers properly.

Read the contents of your puffy coat closely before you dry it. If your coat is made of synthetics like a polyester blend, you can simply hang it up to dry and you are good to go, Sometimes drying synthetic fibers can be harmful, because the dryer is too hot and may melt the batting, causing a lumpy looking coat that will never be the same. Only toss your down filled coats/vests into the dryer. The down has natural water repellency properties that will not be harmed in the drying process. The same may not be said for the synthetic coats.

Photo by Ruslan Alekso on