Valley and Peak's Step by Step Guide

This is Part II of our guides to washing and re-proofing outdoor clothing.  Part I is here if you missed it.

Before detailing the step by step guide below, here is a quick update on Storm Care products. As I said in my previous post we have been impressed with results that this range has given. We were first attracted to this range in summer 2019 and to be honest the brand is not as well known as the leading brands, and we have found it difficult to make sales.  But we firmly believe in its efficacy and its environmental benefits.  

We have received today details from their UK distributor, our supplier an endorsement of the product range from leading global outdoor supplier Patagonia famed for its environmental responsibility.   They have chosen to sell Storm Care products in their retail stores and online. This decision is based on tests of 8 DWR re-proof options on the market. Storm was the only product to bring performance back to 'like new' and maintain performance after another wash cycle.  This coupled with the environmental benefits outlined in my previous blog post.

We feel vindicated that we persevered with the range, give it a try you can find the range details here

Introduction to our guide

Many people are scared of washing their down jackets and trousers, let alone a down sleeping bag at home, as they are worried about ruining expensive garments.  So is it difficult?  No it's nowhere near as difficult as you think. Follow this guide and the garments care label instructions and you can get a great result.

As in my previous blog post, washing and reproofing (if required) I make reference to using the Storm care range, but obviously you can use other products but we feel that Storm offers benefits over other brands.

Step 1 - Preparation

First thing to do is to throughly clean the detergent and fabric conditioner trays in your washing machine and then run a quick wash cycle with just water, to make sure all detergent and fabric conditioner is out of the washing machine. I set mine to Express cycle, which takes 30 minutes.

While this wash cycle is going on, read the garment's care label for each item to be washed, this may include special instructions and will certainly give the temperature recommended to wash at, generally this is 30-40C.

Secondly, fully close zips, fasten cuffs etc, so that no parts will rub on the fabric when washing.  Thirdly, with any particularly dirty areas, (often cuffs and near the main zip area), rub on some neat cleaner, prior to placing in the washing machine.

Step 2 - Cleaning (and Proofing)

Once this short or Express cycle has finished, add the Down Wash in the detergent tray and if using Storm Care products and you need to re-proof your garment, add the Proofer in the fabric conditioner tray at the same time. For other products, you will have to run the wash cycle first, and then add the Proofer, then run the Wash cycle again and wait an extra hour or so, to complete the process - here are some of the benefits of Storm Care! Do not add the proofer at this stage if using anything other than Storm.

Quantity: For Storm, its 75 mls per garment for Down Wash and 75 mls for Proofer added to the correct trays in your make of washing machine. Check product label for other products, If you have hard water, make sure you add more, as directed by the product label (not needed for Storm).

Select the correct temperature setting for your garment, and I usually reduce the spin speed down to 1000 rpm to stop excessive creasing of the garment - do check with the manufacturer for your particular garment what spin speed is recommended

Once, the wash cycle (and proofer cycle if required) has been completed, I set the washing machine for an extra spin cycle, again check with the manufacturer for your particular garment.  You want the down garment to be rid of excess water as much as possible before going into the tumble dryer.

Now when the washing machine has stopped, you can get quite a fright, I did the first time I washed a £250 PHD down jacket, I thought I had ruined it. But as Jon Bon Jovi sang 'Keep the faith, Lord we gotta keep the faith'  It will turn out fine - trust me :)

Your down garment can look pretty sorry for itself, but keep the faith it will turn out fine

Step 3 - Place the garment(s) in the tumble dryer

Now this is the most important step, drying your garment to restore that lovely fluffy down to its lofting potential. Not only does the tumble dryer, dry your outdoor clothing, but the heat will re-activate the DWR treatment.  Before starting the tumble dryer, check the care label for settings.  I personally put it on the Delicate cycle and set the alarm on my phone for every 15 minutes to check on the progress and give a gentle shake to help redistribute the down as it dries in the baffles.  

A very important bit of kit to use is drying balls, I would go with four if possible. You can buy these on our site on their own or as part of  Storm's Down Care kit.  I heard of people using clean tennis balls or even tennis shoes, although I've had no experience of using them.  The purpose of them is to break up the clumps of wet down as they dry. Don't try and tease the clumps out yourself by hand.

So keep taking the garment out every 15/20 minutes, gently shake to redistribute the down and keep doing that until it is restored back to a fully lofting down garment.

Notes for Guidance

No washing machine.

Many products will work well when hand washing. For Storm Care products, use a bath and the suggested label dose in a maximum 50 litres of tepid water (just enough to cover garments). Agitate for a few minutes and rinse several times with clean water, followed by a Proofer if required.

No Tumble Dryer.

You can air dry this but it's a slow old process, frequently returning over many hours to gently shake the down. Dry flat on a towel, to avoid strain on the baffles and do this on a warm sunny day out of direct sun, starting early in the day.  Flip over on a regular basis.  Really this is a job for a tumble dryer, so go down to the laundrette (laundromat), if at all possible even if you are doing the washing at home. Make sure you have it on low heat Or have it professionally cleaned if  you have any concerns.

Top loader washing machine

Avoid using these, as the down may be damaged by agitating action of top loaders Use a front loading machine only.

Do's and Don'ts

❌ Don’t use ordinary laundry detergent

❌ Don’t use fabric conditioner

❌ Don't dry clean

❌ Don’t use solvents or bleach

✅ Do use specially formulated cleaning and proofing products such as Storm

We have set out the above guidance on the basis of what we have read on product labels, manufacturer's websites, general guidance on the internet and our own experience over a number of years. Please check your garment care labels, manufacturer's product labels and your appliance instructions to get the best results, this may differ from the guidance given by this blog post.  We do not accept any responsibility for any damage to your outdoor clothing.

Down Sleeping bags

I've never tried this at home and you need a front loading machine which is at least 10 kg capacity, most domestic machines are around 7 kg which is far too small.  I'm sure it can be done if you have the time and the inclination but I think its a sort of task best left to the professionals.

Here are a few links to companies

Mountaineering Designs

Scottish Mountain Gear

Classiclean of Harrogate

Elite Cleaning