Is your down jacket losing feathers? Thanks to an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio, down-insulated garments are full of benefits and highly-regarded wardrobe staples by urbanites and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you have a new lightweight down jacket or a down jacket for extreme Canadian winters, you’ll want to know what to do when a small white tip pokes its way through the shell fabric of your coat. 

We’re not saying that when given a choice between a down jacket and a second insulation option, down is always the winner. There are some notable differences when comparing down garments to synthetically insulated garments—both have their pros and cons. But here we will look at the top of the winter insulation world, down, and that a down jacket losing feathers is far from the end of the garment. 

With a newly-purchased down-insulated garment, it’s important to know that down and feathers will try to escape. Although it is concerning, this is normal, and there’s no need to rush to your warranty. This isn’t a manufacturing defect or sign of a lower-quality product; even the best brands on the market will have this happen, so do not fret.

Feathers and down are considered fine fibres, as in delicately-wrought. Due to their sharp ends, it’s easy for them to penetrate the seams or linings of your jacketIt’s also possible to see down through the fabric if your garment is a light colour. Again, this isn’t a defect or sign of lower-quality materials. Often, semi-transparent outer materials are used to improve the lightweight feel of an insulator.

What to Do and What Not to Do

First, if your down jacket losing feathers is causing you worry—don’t! If you see a feather or some down poking through a seam, do not pull it out. By pulling out a feather or piece of leaking down, you’re making the hole which it created larger, which can result in more down or feathers working out of your jacket.

If you spot a feather or some down peeking through a seam or lining, it’s probably possible to ‘pull it back in.’ ‘Pulling’ can be easier said than done but if you’re able to reverse its path, you’re the winner. By gently rubbing the area where the feather or down is escaping, the fibres of the material pull each other together, sealing the small hole that was formed.

Over time, the feathers and down insulation in a garment can get packed down and become flat, making the fibres thinner and more likely to penetrate seams or a lining. Luckily, you can make your old down jacket new again with a simple wash, although it’s essential to follow proper washing directions for down products.

When simply looking to enhance your garment’s loftiness and “fluff up” the insulation, you can toss your down jacket into a front-loading dryer on the lowest heat setting. It’s important you use the lowest heat setting so as not to melt your jacket, and also use a front-loading machine to avoid unwanted damage. Next, you’ll want to toss in a clean tennis ball or three, and let it run for about 15 minutes. This technique will lift flat insulation to a lofty state and make it harder to sneak out of any seams or lining.

If you notice an unusual amount of down or feathers leaking from your almost brand new garment, you can find your receipt and try to return it. Keep in mind that the final decision is up to the retailer and/or the manufacturer as to whether the coat is defective.