From morning dog walks to overnighters above the treeline, puffer jackets are a winter staple that allow us to get outdoors all year round. Puffer jackets provide insulation and significant protection from the elements, and can therefore be a pretty sizable investment in your outdoor wardrobe. Whether you’ve opted for down or synthetic fill, puffer jackets require a level of care to maintain their insulating properties, and regular washing is a crucial factor. Find out how to wash a puffer jacket to ensure your purchase lasts season after season.

Can You Wash Puffer Jackets?

Puffer jackets can, and should, be washed regularly to maintain their performance and maximise longevity. Puffer jackets can be washed in your own washing machine as long as you use a front loader, technical detergent and gentle wash cycle. Be careful not to over-wash your jacket, as this can have damaging effects on both the shell and insulation. As a general rule, we’d recommend washing your puffer jacket once every season. Always read the manufacturer instructions and care label before you wash your puffer jacket.

Washing machine filled with puffer jackets

How to Clean a Puffer Jacket

Puffer jackets can be machine-washed or hand-washed, but require special care to avoid damaging the fill and shell. When washing puffer jackets, it’s important to use a delicate detergent that is formulated specifically for technical outdoor garments, or a down-specific detergent for down jackets. Regular store-bought detergents and fabric softeners can affect the DWR (durable water repellency) of the shell, and also strip the down itself of its natural oils. Always make sure to check the manufacturer instructions before washing your puffer jacket.

Machine Washing Puffer Jackets

The easiest way to wash your puffer jacket is in the washing machine. Use a front-loading washing machine and be sure to rinse the detergent drawer for any residual detergent or fabric softener. When you’re ready to wash your jacket, zip up the zippers, loosen any elastic cords, and close all pockets. Wash it on a gentle, cold cycle with a technical detergent – we’d recommend Nikwax Tech Wash for synthetic insulation and Revivex Down Cleaner for down. Put the jacket on an additional gentle rinse and spin to remove any excess detergent and water.

Hand Washing Puffer Jackets

If you don’t have access to a washing machine, it’s easy to wash your puffer jacket by hand. Simply soak your garment for 60 minutes in warm water with a technical detergent. Knead the soap through the jacket before rinsing it thoroughly with cold water. Make sure that your puffer jacket is completely rinsed of excess soap and then lightly squeeze it dry. Never wring the jacket as this can cause clumping.

How to Dry Puffer Jackets

The easiest course of action when drying a puffer jacket is to use a tumble dryer. Air drying can take a long time, especially with natural down as the feathers tend to clump together. Tumble dry your puffer jacket on a low heat setting to restore the loft (or “puffiness”). When drying down jackets in particular, adding a couple of (clean) tennis balls or balled socks to the dryer can help to stop it clumping together. It can be useful to periodically remove the jacket and shake it out to ensure that no clumps are forming.

If you don’t have access to a tumble dryer, you can air dry it flat and out of direct sunlight, giving it a regular shake out to prevent any clumping. Puffer jackets, especially down, can take a long time to air-dry, so be patient. Although the shell can feel dry, it’s common for the insulation to still be damp. Always ensure the jacket is completely dry before you start wearing it, as moisture can hinder the insulation.

Man wearing Patagonia puffer jacket

What to Avoid When Washing Puffer Jackets 

When we buy a quality jacket, we expect it to last. But failure to follow the correct care instructions can cause damage to the shell, the DWR, or the insulation of your puffer jacket. To ensure you maximise the life of your puffer jacket, here’s what you should avoid:

  • Regular laundry detergent (especially bio detergent) and fabric softeners – can cause damage to the DWR and insulating properties
  • Top loader washing machine with agitator – agitators are too harsh for puffer jackets
  • High heat when washing and/or drying – can damage both the shell and down
  • Wringing – can cause clumping and damage to the insulation
  • Dry cleaning – uses harsh chemicals that can strip down of its natural oils

Puffer Jacket FAQs

Can You Dry Clean Puffer Jackets?

It can be tempting to pop your puffer jacket to the dry cleaner, but we’d strongly advise against it. Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can damage both the insulation structure and the shell of a puffer jacket, as well as stripping natural down of its oils.

Are Puffer Jackets Waterproof?

Most puffer jackets are not waterproof, although they do offer a level of water resistance. Down can lose its insulating properties if it gets wet, leaving you feeling cold. If you’re heading out in rainy conditions, we’d recommend wearing a waterproof shell over the top of your puffer jacket for optimal performance.

Man looking at map wearing a puffer jacket with backpack

Now that you know how to wash a puffer jacket, make sure to check out our comprehensive down care guide to find out how to store, repair, and restore the DWR of your down jacket. If you’re on the hunt for a new puffer, browse our insulated jackets for men and women, and read our article on how to buy down responsibly.

Shop our full range of clothing care here to help maintain the performance and extend the life of your outdoor gear.

About The Author


Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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