Nikwax Down Wash Direct is a high performance technical cleaner for hydrophobic and regular down filled clothing and gear. It’s transformed the way we look after our down filled equipment and we wanted to explain why. We hope you find it useful.
Down still leads the roost for high performance cold weather insulation. Despite the advances in synthetics nothing matches down’s warmth for weight and, when well cared for, it’s longevity.
Down isn’t perfect
It also has drawbacks. If it gets damp it will soon lose its insulating qualities. The introduction of hydrophobic damp has certainly helped extend the conditions damp can be used in, but it still needs to be treated carefully in wet conditions.
It can also be harder to care for than synthetic alternatives. Once it gets wet the down can clump up and be difficult to return to its full performance. Drying it out thoroughly can also be difficult for the home user without specialist equipment.
To avoid this you might choose to send your down products to a specialist company. This can work really well but there is obviously a cost to this. You may also, like we often have in the past, avoid cleaning your down gear. That isn’t ideal.
Through use, dirt and body oils build up on both the fabric and the down fill. This dirt attracts water which can easily transfer into the down. In turn this causes it to lose loft and insulation as it can’t trap air effectively. It will also gain weight and its breathability will be significantly reduced. So, regular cleaning both protects performance and improves its lifespan.
Using conventional laundry detergents is not recommended. They leave behind a (hydrophilic) water attracting film on both the down and the outer fabric. This will cause the down and outer fabric to wet out causing a loss of insulation and, ultimately, a reduced life span.
Nikwax Down Wash Direct
We started using Nikwax Down Wash Direct a few years ago and have become firm advocates. Initially we were very nervous that the down wouldn’t be the same as we’ve had down get wet in the past and not return to it’s usual performance level, but soon realised how easy and effective this product is. It has revolutionised the ease with which we can care for everything from sleeping bags to down filled bootees (yes, we really do have some of these!).
Nikwax Down Wash Direct is a cleaner designed specifically for down. It removes body oils and dirt and restores the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) of both the outer fabric and the down. It also revives breathability which allows moisture vapour to pass through the item. This optimises performance in cold and damp conditions. In common with all Nikwax products, this product is PFC free (we wrote about Nikwax’s outstanding environmental credentials here).
Using Nikwax Down Wash Direct
How you use Nikwax Down Wash Direct depends on the items you are cleaning. Sleeping bags and very large jackets are best hand washed in a bath or large container and then spin dried in a washing machine. Use neat Nikwax Down Wash Direct to treat stubborn stains before washing.
After washing, it’s best to spin dry multiple times, each time incrementally increasing the speed of the spin cycle. Tumble drying is then recommended (if care label allows) to ensure that the down is dried thoroughly and as quickly as possible. It is a simple enough process that gives professional quality results.
Full details on the process are available on the Nikwax website and the handy video below also shows the steps involved. For best results combine use of Down Wash Direct with Nikwax Down Proof. This is Nikwax’s high performance wash in waterproofing for down filled clothing and gear.