Puffer jackets are a wardrobe staple for any outdoor enthusiast. Whether you're running, hiking, or backpacking, they are the perfect outerwear to protect you from rain, wind, and snow.
Puffer jackets, also known as down jackets, are good at keeping the weather elements at bay, thanks to their construction design. On the outside, they consist of a waterproof material that allows water to glide off without seeping into your inner clothing.
On the inside, these jackets contain down feathers or synthetic fibers that act as insulation, trapping heat and providing warmth in cold weather.
The insulation material is filled in puffy sections, hence the jacket's name. But, with use and wash, your puffer jacket can lose its puffiness. When this happens, it means the insulation material inside has clumped together and cannot trap heat adequately.
If your puffer is to be of any use, it's important to fix this and bring back its puffiness. How do you do that? Read on to find out how to repuff a puffer jacket and keep it in its best shape.
Why Do Puffer Jackets Lose Puffiness?
Knowing what caused your puffer jacket to lose puffiness is essential when determining how to bring it back.
One reason could be that the down in its sections absorbed water and clumped together. Therefore, instead of providing soft insulation, the material becomes lumps that ruin both the jacket's appearance and its ability to hold heat.
A second possible reason your jacket could lose its puffiness is when the insulation material inside gets damaged. This happens when the down feathers become dry, brittle, and break. In this condition, they can neither fill the jacket sections uniformly nor trap heat well.
Once the insulation material inside your jacket is ruined, it'll be impossible to bring back the puffiness. Read on to learn how to avoid this scenario and reverse lumped down back to its soft state.
How to Repuff a Puffer Jacket
There are two main ways to repuff a jacket. You could use a dryer or your hands. Here's how each of these methods works:
Method 1: Using a Tumble Dryer
After washing your jacket, putting it in a tumble dryer can help puff up the down or insulation fibers inside. To ensure good results, put the puffer in the dryer by itself to give it enough space to move around. Next, set the dryer to the lowest heat setting available.
You should also remove as much water as possible from your jacket before loading it in the tumble dryer. Do this by squeezing—not wringing—the jacket, then laying it down for a few minutes to allow excess water to drip away.
After loading the jacket into the dryer, add a few dryer balls. If you don't have these, use tennis balls. The purpose of these balls is to break down the clumps in the down when they bounce around during the drying process. With the balls in place, turn on the dryer.
Every thirty minutes or so, take the jacket out of the dryer and fluff it gently with your hands. Pulling on the material helps break down the clumps. Put the jacket back into the tumble dryer and repeat the process until it's completely dry and puffy enough.
Method 2: Without a Dryer
If you don't have a tumble dryer, it's still possible to puff up your jacket. The process involves air-drying the jacket and fluffing it up with your hands every half an hour.
Begin with squeezing excess water out of the jacket after washing it. Avoid wringing it dry since this will damage the insulation.
Once you've removed all excess moisture, hang your jacket to dry. Put it in a dry and cool place, away from moisture. Exposure to humidity will prevent it from drying completely, resulting in an unpleasant smell afterward.
Take the jacket from the hanger every half an hour and shake it gently. Using your hands, massage the sections, gently pulling on the insulation material inside.
Return the jacket to the hanger and let it dry for another thirty minutes before fluffing it again. It might take about five hours for the coat to fully air dry.
How to Wash a Puffer Jacket to Maintain Its Puffiness
Washing your puffer jacket properly goes a long way in maintaining its puffiness. You can wash your puffer jacket in two ways; machine wash and hand wash.
Here are the steps to follow when washing your down jacket in the washing machine:
1. Check the Care Label
Most down coats are machine washable, but it's crucial to follow the care instructions on the label. You'll likely find that the manufacturer suggests a gentle cycle for the jacket.
The type of washing machine you have is an important consideration.
Front loader washing machines are more suitable for cleaning puffer jackets since they're more gentle on the material than top loaders that are more aggressive.
2. Brush Off Loose Dirt
When you wear your jacket on outdoor adventures, it's guaranteed to pick up loose dirt and dust. Brush off all this before loading it into the machine.
3. Zip Up Pockets and Turn Jacket Inside Out
Ensure all zips are closed before starting the wash cycle to prevent them from pulling on the jacket fabric or getting ruined during the wash. Also, turn the jacket inside out to prevent pilling.
4. Use a Specific Down Cleaner
Down insulation is sensitive, so avoid exposing it to harsh cleaning detergents. Instead, use a special cleaner made for down. Down cleaners are gentle on the feathers and won't break them or strip their natural oils.
5. Use a Low Heat, Gentle Cycle
Use cold water to wash your jacket since hot water can damage the outer fabric. As for the cycle, use the most gentle setting available on your washing machine. On most machines, this could be the delicate or wool cycle.
6. Rinse Thoroughly
Keep your jacket in the rinse cycle for an extended period to remove all cleaner from the insulation material. You can also re-rinse after the first rinse cycle for the best results.
Hand washing your puffer jacket is the best option if you're worried that your machine won't be delicate enough. Gentle hand-washing is suitable for the outside fabric and the down feathers inside the sections.
Begin by brushing off any loose dirt, just like when using the washing machine. Next, add a down detergent to warm water and soak the jacket. Let it soak for up to an hour.
Remove the jacket from the detergent water and squeeze it gently to remove excess water. Rinse the coat, then use a kneading motion to remove excess water. Shaking can also help to get rid of moisture. Lay down the jacket on a drying rack for ten minutes before putting it into a tumble dryer.
How to Keep Your Puffer Jacket in Good Condition
Your method of washing and drying your down jacket is crucial in keeping it puffy, but there are other tips you should remember to ensure it remains in good condition.
Fix Rips and Tears Before Washing
Fixing rips and tears before washing protects your jacket's outer fabric from ripping further due to friction applied when removing dirt. It also keeps the down feathers from being damaged due to exposure to too much water, detergent, and pressure.
If your jacket tears when you're out camping, a repair tape patch can come in handy to fix the hole and keep dirt from getting inside the sections. Before applying the tape, use an alcohol swab to clean any dirt or dust around the hole.
Avoid Storing Your Jacket in Tiny Bags
A puffer jacket typically comes with a storage bag where you can bunch it up when hiking. While this bag is handy on camping trips, it's not suitable for the long-term storage of your jacket.
Keeping the jacket bunched up for long applies excessive pressure on the down feathers, breaking them and taking away their puffiness. When you're not camping, store your jacket by hanging.
Pack Your Puffer Jacket Properly
When going on a hiking trip, always pack your puffer jacket last in your luggage. This prevents it from being crushed by other items, which would damage the down feathers and flatten the puffy sections.
When you pack your jacket at the top, it also makes it easier to access if you need it due to weather changes.
Making a puffer jacket puffy again is relatively easy, so you don't need to start thinking about buying a new one if your old one appears flat.
Whether you have a dryer or not, you can have your jacket looking puffy again and ready for your next adventure.
To prevent instances where your jacket permanently loses its puffiness, avoid using harsh detergents when washing, wringing it or packing it under pressure, and washing it in hot water. After every wash, ensure to dry it thoroughly to protect the delicate down from moisture.
With these steps and tips, you can keep your puffer jacket in good condition for a long time to come.