Can You Tumble Dry A Down Jacket? (here’s the truth)

Not only can you dry a down jacket in a tumble dryer, it’s the preferred method of drying according to the leading manufacturers and retailers of down jackets. However, don’t be tempted to blast your down jacket with high heat, or you’ll be likely to melt the seams and the fabric of the outer shell. Always tumble dry your down jacket on the low heat setting.

As down jackets are full of down, which are natural feathers, it’s important to keep them dry to prevent those feathers from rotting. You should also add plastic dryer balls to the drum to help fluff up the jacket. 

If you don’t have any plastic dryer balls, you can use tennis balls instead and they’ll do the same job. If you don’t have any tennis balls, you could put shoes inside clean socks as a substitute.

Because of the amount of feathers that are needed to create that lightweight, warm jacket, drying a down jacket will take some time (upwards of 2 hours).

It’s important to remove the jacket from the dryer every 30 minutes and fluff it up to help prevent the feathers from clumping together. Always hold the jacket flat and never from one end as you fluff it up.

You should shake the jacket as it comes from the dryer and use your hands to remove any clumps by gently massaging them out of the down.

Before reusing your down jacket or storing it away, always ensure it is completely dry. Otherwise you run the risk of the feathers rotting which will render the jacket useless and it won’t smell too good either.

You’ll know when your down jacket is dry because the feathers will stop clumping and the jacket will have returned to its original weight.

What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On A Down Jacket

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes

Your down jacket will have a care label that will tell you exactly how to wash and dry it. Often these will just say things like “wash separately” or “do not tumble dry” or more likely, it will have a symbol. These symbols are a great idea as long as you understand what they symbolise.

The only symbol your down jacket is likely to have is the square with a white circle with one black dot in the circle as this indicates that your down jacket can be tumble dried on the low heat setting

But for information purposes, below is a list of all of the symbols relating to tumble drying clothes;

  • Square With White Circle – This symbol indicates the item can be tumble dried
  • Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle – This symbol indicates you can dry the item on normal, low heat and is most likely the one you’ll find on your down jacket.
  • Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle – This symbol indicates the item can be dried at a medium heat.
  • Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle – This symbol indicates that the garment can be tumble dried at a high heat setting.
  • Square With Black Circle – This is the symbol that is used to indicate that the item can be tumble dried but no heat is to be used.
  • Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top – This is the symbol used to indicate that the garment cannot be tumble dried.

How To Dry A Down Jacket Without A Tumble Dryer

The tumble dryer is the recommended way of drying a down jacket, but if you don’t have access to a tumble dryer, don’t despair. Your down jacket can still be washed and dried, it’s just the drying process will take longer.

We do have a few alternative methods for drying a down jacket without a tumble dryer but you can expect them to take up to 24-48 hours. However, we do have a few tips on how to cut this drying time down (see below).

Air Drying A Down Jacket

After washing your down jacket you should squeeze it down by hand to remove any excess water. DO NOT WRING as it could damage the material. Then place your down jacket on a coat hanger and then hang on a clothesline or rotary line outside for 12-24 hours.

Every ½ hour or so go and massage the jacket to remove any clumps, and keep checking until the jacket is dry.

Drying A Down Jacket On A Retractable Line

If the weather is too bad and space is at a premium, you might want to consider getting a retractable clothesline. The main part of this is a small box which is attached to the wall. 

Inside this box is a nylon braided clothesline that can be pulled out of the box and secured on an opposite wall. You then hang the down jacket from this line until it’s dry. The line then flows back into the box until the next time it’s needed.

SEE ALSO: Best Retractable Washing Lines

Using An Airer To Dry A Down Jacket

After squeezing your down jacket to remove excess water, it should be placed on a coat hanger and hung from an airer in a cool, dry, well ventilated room. Every hour or so, you should massage the jacket to remove any clumps.

This will take the longest time of all of these alternative drying methods. You can expect a down jacket in a cool dry room to take upwards of 24-48 hours to fully dry.

This drying time can be shortened by standing the airer in front of a radiator (set at a moderate temperature). You could find the jacket dry in around 6-8 hours if it’s hanging in front of a radiator.

Heated Airers

A heated airer looks similar to a standard airer except it can be plugged into a power socket. It then heats up which can reduce drying times.

Using A Dehumidifier To Speed Up The Drying Time Indoors

When it comes to drying bulky items like down jackets, a dehumidifier can be a really helpful appliance. Simply place the dehumidifier close to the spot where the down jacket is hanging to help remove excess moisture from the room.

This will speed up the drying time as the air will be dryer which means the jacket will dry faster. A dehumidifier can be used in conjunction with any of the indoor methods mentioned in this article including in front of a radiator. 

SEE ALSO: The Best Dehumidifiers For Drying Down Jackets

Using An Electric fan To Assist In The Drying Process

Once you have your down jacket hanging from an indoor line, airer or in a spare room. You can simulate a gentle breeze by operating an electric fan close to the jacket. 

Remember to open a window to allow moisture to escape.

What Happens If You Tumble Dry A Down Jacket?

Always check the wash care labels

Tumble drying a down jacket is the recommended way to ensure it is completely moisture free before packing it away until next Winter. So what happens when you tumble dry a down jacket is it gets dry faster. 

However, you must ensure you only tumble your down jacket on a low heat setting.

What Could Happen If You Tumble Dry A Down Jacket Using Too Much Heat?

If you were to expose the down jacket to any higher temperatures than low heat during the tumble drying process you run the risk of damaging your jacket. You could;

Melt The Seams

Back in the old days the feathers were sealed into down jackets with hand stitches. Nowadays they are often heat sealed in and if these areas are subjected to too much heat, the seal can melt which will cause the feathers to escape and the jacket will be ruined.

Damage The Outer Shell

The outer shell of a down jacket is designed to protect you and the down from cold weather. If the outer shell becomes damaged the coat will be ruined.

Cause The Jacket To Go Out Of Shape

If you subject a down jacket to too much heat in the dryer, it could cause it to go out of shape. If this does happen, the jacket will be ruined and you will not be able to return it to its original shape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to put A Down Jacket in a tumble dryer?

Putting a down jacket in a tumble dryer is the manufacturers and retailers recommended way of drying. But never subject the down jacket to high heat as this can melt the seams and damage the outer shell.

How can I dry A Down Jacket without a tumble dryer?

If you don’t own a tumble dryer there are several ways to dry a down jacket which include, air drying outdoors on a clothesline, air drying indoors on a retractable clothesline, airer or heated airer. Using a dehumidifier will speed up the drying time considerably.

How long does it take to tumble dry a down jacket?

The length of time needed to dry a down jacket in a tumble dryer depends on the size and weight of the down jacket. At a low heat setting it should take anywhere between 60 to 120 minutes. You should remove the down jacket every 30 minutes to remove any clumps by gently massaging the clumps until they dissipate.

Can you dry a down jacket without tennis balls?

You can dry a down jacket in a tumble dryer without using tennis balls or dryer balls. But using them will help with the drying process. If you don’t have any tennis balls you could put shoes inside clean socks as a substitute.

Is it better to air dry a down jacket?

The best way to dry a down jacket is in a tumble dryer on a low heat setting. If you do need to air dry your down jacket it will take at least 24 hours to fully dry (possibly 48 hours) and there is far more risk of the feathers clumping together. Due to the length of time required to air dry a down jacket it is likely to begin to smell mouldy.

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