Do Columbia Jackets Shrink? [Here Is The Answer]

Columbia jackets are so popular for a reason. This company has been around for a while, and they have created quite a lot of great designs. If you can think of a situation in which you would need a jacket, chances are that Columbia has a jacket that would be perfect for it!

Might I add that this company has great jackets that you can get at a very affordable price? No matter if you need a rain jacket, waterproof jacket, down jacket, fleece jacket, or if you are looking to get one of the Columbia Omni-heat jackets. These are all great, but they do need special care and maintenance.

Some reports say that some jackets from this company have shrunk after washing or drying. To find if there is any truth behind these reports, I went ahead and did some experimenting and some research.

So today, I want to tell you all about these jackets, how to keep them from shrinking, and how to care for them in the best way possible. Stay tuned if you want to learn more on the topic!


hiking with columbia jacket

Do Columbia Jackets Shrink?

No matter how great some clothes are, you can cause them to shrink if you do not care for them correctly. The same goes for jackets from Columbia. Their jackets are not known as jackets that can easily shrink, but in some cases, that might happen.

This is why I always recommend that people look at the washing instructions before washing or drying their clothes. You might not even be aware that you are doing something wrong, something that would harm your clothes. To be safe, you should always check the labels on your clothing to see the recommended way of caring for them.

There are several reasons why a jacket from Columbia might shrink – one is all about the washing, while the other is all about the drying!

If you plan to wash the jacket in the washing machine, you should always do it on a gentle cycle. You should wash with cold water and mild detergent that does not contain bleach. Also, you should not use fabric softener in this case.

If you are wondering how to dry the jacket after washing it, I recommend that you avoid dryers and stick to air drying. This is the preferred method in most cases, except when drying down jackets. In that case, you can tumble dry your jacket but do it at a low temperature.

So, as you can see, many factors play a role when it comes to proper maintenance. If you do not read the label on your garment, you might miss some of these things. That will lead to the jackets becoming damaged or even shrinking. Make sure that you always know what you need to do with the jackets or other pieces of clothing before you throw them in the washing or drying machine!

Can I Put My Columbia Jacket in the Washing Machine?

Before I tell you the best way to wash a Columbia jacket, I want to bring your attention to this fact – the company sells a lot of different jackets. If you visit their website, you will find that they have more than 10 different types of jackets. In those categories, you can find a lot of different designs made with different materials.

This should tell you that there isn’t only one way of washing all these jackets. Depending on the type of jacket you have, you can find the preferred washing method. Still, I will give you a few pointers that will make it easier for you to wash your jacket without ruining it.

Use a washing machine

Let’s make it clear – You can wash a Columbia jacket in the washing machine! You can throw it in the washer no matter what type of jacket it is. Take note that it should be a front-loading washing machine and not a top-loading one.

The hand wash cycle is also great, but it can take a lot from you. A lot of time, a lot of effort, and many things that you might not have at your disposal. If you have the time and are willing to wash it by hand, go ahead. If you do not want to do that, no one blames you.

Prepare the jacket for the washing

Before you put the jacket in the washer, you should prepare it. By this, I mean zip up all the zippers and button all pockets and other openings down. While you are at it, make sure that the pockets are empty.

After you do this, you should turn the jacket upside-down and wash it like that. These are all things that will protect the jackets and help you avoid friction or pilling.

Know the type of detergent you need

Most of today’s detergents contain harsh chemicals or toxic cleaning solvents. I do not recommend using this type of detergent, let alone a jacket when washing anything. You should be using a mild detergent, preferably non-toxic.

When washing a fleece jacket or an Omni-heat jacket, you can use a mild detergent. Any mild detergent will do. When washing a down jacket, I recommend using a specific liquid detergent for that kind of jacket. When washing a rain jacket, you can go with a powder detergent.

No softeners needed

No matter what kind of jacket you have, you do not need to use any softeners. At the same time, keep in mind that you should avoid using anything with bleach in it. Those kinds of detergents can only damage your clothes and jackets.

Know the recommended machine settings

When washing any jacket, you need to put the machine on a gentle cycle. You also need to wash the jacket with cold water – never hot water. This will help the jacket stay in the best shape possible.

Also, keep in mind that you should separate wash loads. When washing a jacket, stick to washing the jacket by itself or add other jackets like it. You should not mix the jacket with other garments that need other washing methods. 

When you feel ready, put the jacket in the washer, add the recommended detergent, and make sure you have a gentle cycle on. Double-check that you have the machine set on cold water. If that all is set, you can start the washing cycle!

Can I Put My Columbia Jacket in the Dryer?

If you want to know if Columbia’s jackets can be tumble-dried, the answer is no. At least for most jackets. It is safer to go with air drying the jackets and avoid dryers at all costs.

After washing the jacket, you can air dry it, or line dry it in the sun. If you go with this type of drying, remember to let the jacket completely dry before taking it down. Leaving the jacket with some wet spots can lead to mold or mildew appearing in those spots. If that happens, you might as well throw the jacket in the garbage.

While the air or hang dry process is great in most cases, it does not work well on down jackets. Suppose you have a down jacket from Columbia or any other manufacturer. In that case, it will be better if you tumble dry it. This will help you fluff it up without having to do that by hand.

When drying a down jacket in the dryer, make sure you put it at a low temperature and turn it on a short dry cycle. Add a few tennis balls to help with the fluffing. If the jacket is not dry after the first drying process, feel free to start a second or third one. It is safe to repeat the process as many times as needed.

You can try tumble drying other types of jackets if the label states that it is safe to do so. I have found that Columbia advises against using tumble dryers, ironing the jackets, or dry cleaning them. So, if you want to be safe and keep your jacket intact for longer, I recommend following the given instructions.


Thank you for sticking with me through this guide on Columbia jackets and all things related to their maintenance. Whenever you need to wash or dry one of the jackets from this brand, please follow my instructions above to do it the right way. Also, do not forget to check the label on your garment and follow the instructions given by the manufacturers.

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever had a problem with some of Columbia’s jackets. Have any of your Columbia garments ever shrunk, and were you able to get them back to the original size? I would love to know all about it, so do not hesitate to share your experience with me!

Andrew Mullen

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