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How Long Does it Take for Down Jackets to Dry?

Mountain climber in warm and red down jacket.

Down jackets – or puffer jackets, as they are commonly called – are a favorite winter item. They are nice and warm so that you can stay toasty in cold weather. It’s imperative that you take care of them though.

Keeping them clean and ensuring they dry completely is essential to keeping your down jacket around for a long time. Let’s be honest, though. When it’s cold outside and you’re ready to get outdoors, you don’t want to sit around and wait. You want it to dry as quickly as possible.

So how long do they normally take to dry? That depends on how you choose to dry them.

Ways to Dry Your Down Jacket

Like most other clothing, there are two ways to dry your down jacket. You can hang them to dry or put them in a dryer. Let’s look at how these each work out.

Hang Drying

Let’s take a second to understand what’s inside your jacket. If you didn’t know, it’s feathers – usually the underlayer of duck or geese feathers. Have you ever found a feather lying around on the ground?

If you’re like my kids, you pick them up and try to save them. They also like to get them wet, either to play with their toys or something else. In any case, those little feathers take forever to dry when left to their own devices.

Even in direct sunlight, it can take all day or longer. If you decide to hang dry your down jacket, you’re looking at a minimum of 24 hours for it to drip dry, but it can take up to 48 hours. That’s a pretty good bit of time, and there’s really no guarantee that it will be completely dry by then.

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Obviously, you can speed this up by wringing it out, but this can actually mess up the insulation. A better option is to shake it really well on occasion to get rid of excess water. You’ll also need to fluff the jacket every 30 minutes to an hour to be sure the feathers are separated and get proper airflow.

In short, you’re looking at a day or more of drying time if you choose to hang dry your down jacket. And if you don’t let it dry completely, you and your jacket could actually end up smelling pretty ripe.

Machine Drying

Young woman taking down jacket from washing machine in bathroom.

Many people choose to hang dry because they are afraid to throw their jackets in the dryer. There is some misunderstanding in this area, though, which means plenty of people are doing more work than they need to do. And hang drying can actually impact the down since it takes so long to work.

So, it’s important to know that you can absolutely machine dry your down jacket. You just need to be careful in how you do it.

  • First, you’ll want to dry it alone. Your jacket needs to be able to freely tumble around in your dryer so that it can fully – well – dry.
  • Then, put in a couple of tennis balls or dryer balls. This will help break the down up so that you don’t have to worry about clumps.
  • Turn the dryer on air dry or low. About halfway through the cycle, take it out, shake it up, and finish the cycle.
  • When that cycle is finished, take it out and shake it up again before turning on another low or air dry cycle.
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I won’t lie. This process will take a few hours. You can expect to put on several dryer cycles before it’s finished, but it’s much quicker and safer for your down insulation than hang drying. Just remember to shake it out during and after each cycle to keep it nice and fluffy.

Can I Machine Wash, Too?

Young housewife looks on a down jacket before washing.

Yes, you absolutely can. And let’s be honest on this, too: you definitely want to. Machine washing can help ensure your jacket gets as clean and odor-free as possible. Like machine drying, though, you will need to take certain steps to keep your jacket at its best.


You don’t need to use the same detergent for your down jacket as you do the rest of your clothes. Regular detergent is meant to strip unwanted things out of your clothing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always know what’s unwanted.

Therefore, it can strip the feather’s natural oils away. This is an issue because, without that oil, moisture can just sit there. Instead, you’ll want to use a detergent made specifically for down materials.

And you’ll want to clean out the detergent compartment of your washer to ensure no regular detergent residue is present.


If you have stains that you want to get off of your down jacket, it’s best to do that prior to washing. Spot treat any stained areas and then rinse the product away before putting your jacket in the washer.

Washing Process

Before putting your jacket in the washer, turn it inside out, zip any zipper, and close any flaps or buttoned areas.

Close-up of a red down jacket.

Set the cycle on low and cold, such as you would with wool and delicate items. Once the cycle has finished, turn the rinse cycle on a few more times to ensure the feathers are free from any detergent residue.

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Washing Machine Type

Top load washing machines have an agitator, which can be rough on delicate items like down. It’s best to use a front load washing machine for your jacket. However, if you only have access to a top-loading machine, put your jacket in a mesh bag before washing.

This will provide some protection.

Additional Tips

  • It’s important to keep your jacket clean, but the more often you wash it, the quicker it can wear down. Instead of doing a full wash every week, spot clean as much as possible. Keep the full washes to a minimum. I’m not saying let it go until it smells so bad you can’t stand it. I just mean every little spot doesn’t have to mean it’s time to wash it thoroughly.
  • Never take your jacket to the dry cleaners. This might seem like the simplest way to deal with it, but dry cleaners use a chemical process that can quickly break down your jacket’s insulation.
  • I mentioned it a few times above, but it’s worth repeating. Always fluff your jacket to break up any clumps. This is the best way to keep your puffer jacket puffy.

Down jackets are incredible insulators – and you’ll pay the price for it. It’s worth it, of course, but it is an investment. As such, it’s important to protect that investment as much and for as long as you can.

Following these tips above and allowing plenty of time for your jacket to dry – regardless of your method – is essential to that protection.