Why Does My Down Jacket Smell Like Wet Dog?

Down jackets have long been known for their warmth and comfort, but if your down jacket has started smelling like a wet dog, it can be an unpleasant experience.

Let’s explore the common causes of this foul odor and find out how to get rid of it.

Why Does My Down Jacket Smell Like Wet Dog

Wet Fabric

One of the most common reasons why a down jacket may start to smell like a wet dog is because of wet fabric. When down jackets get wet, the insulation in them starts to break down, which can lead to bacteria growth that produces the offensive odor.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you always check the care tags on your jacket before washing or drying it.

Mold & Mildew

Mold and mildew are also potential culprits when it comes to your down jacket smelling like a wet dog. These fungi tend to grow in warm and moist environments, so if you've stored your jacket away without properly drying it after wearing it in the rain, these organisms could be causing the musty smell.

To avoid this issue altogether, make sure you hang up your coat after use and allow time for all moisture to evaporate completely.

Detergents & Deodorizers

If there's already an existing odor coming from your down coat, then using detergents or deodorizers may help get rid of it. One option is to soak your coat in a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts cold water for at least 30 minutes - this will neutralize any lingering smells on the fabric fibers.

You can also try using baking soda or natural deodorizing sprays that are specifically designed for athletic wear or outdoor apparel.

Professional Cleaner

In some cases where more serious odors persist despite attempted home remedies, taking your down coat to a professional cleaner may be necessary. They will likely use special cleaning agents that are tailored towards getting deeply embedded odors out of fabrics such as modern synthetic materials used in apparel today.

This should be done every six months or so depending on usage and environment conditions experienced by the garment while in use. 

Which Cleaner Do I Use? 

Tips for washing down jackets without smelling dog like

I prefer to launder my down jacket using Eucalan Delicate Wash as it provides optimal care. This specialized detergent is particularly well-suited for down jackets, ensuring they remain clean and in top condition. Additionally, it's a great choice for other items made of feathers and wool.

Here are some tips to enhance the washing process:

Spot Cleaning: Before washing the entire jacket, spot clean any visible stains or dirt using a mild detergent or a stain remover. This helps to target specific areas that may need extra attention.

Zipper and Fastenings: Zip up all zippers and secure any fastenings to prevent them from snagging or getting damaged during the washing cycle. This simple step can prolong the life of these delicate components.

Gentle Cycle: When using a washing machine, select the gentle cycle to avoid subjecting the down jacket to excessive agitation. This minimizes the risk of damage to the delicate down feathers.

Cold Water: Wash the jacket in cold water to prevent shrinking and maintain the integrity of the down filling. Cold water is also effective in preserving the colors of the fabric.

Avoid Fabric Softeners: Skip the use of fabric softeners as they can leave a residue on the down, reducing its loft and insulation capabilities. Eucalan Delicate Wash, being a specialized detergent, already provides the necessary care without the need for additional softeners.

Proper Drying: Air-dry the down jacket by laying it flat on a clean, dry surface. Avoid hanging it, as the weight of the wet down can cause the fabric to stretch. Periodically fluff the jacket during the drying process to redistribute the down evenly.

Tennis Ball Trick: Toss a couple of clean tennis balls into the dryer with the down jacket. This helps to break up clumps of down and restore the loftiness of the insulation.

By following these tips and using Eucalan Delicate Wash, you can ensure that your down jacket and other feather or woolen clothing items maintain their quality and longevity.

dry your down jacket to avoid smelling like a dog

Dry the jacket completely.

What is my preferred down jacket brand?

I've explored different down jacket brands, such as Columbia, but the one that stands out to me the most is 'Triple Fat Goose.' Known for its exceptional warmth, superior craftsmanship, and the ability to retain heat even in freezing temperatures with just a T-shirt underneath, this jacket's lightweight design and lack of bulk are particularly appealing.

I appreciate the insulation of the hood and pockets with down, eliminating the need for gloves. Overall, I am thoroughly satisfied with this choice and would enthusiastically recommend it. Additionally, it comes with a compact bag for convenient storage during the summer.

I've experimented with various down jacket brands, including Columbia, but the one that stands out to me the most is Triple Fat Goose.

Image Source: Triple Fat Goose

Dos and Don'ts for Avoiding Smell In Down Jacket Like a Wet Dog

If your down jacket has started to smell like a wet dog, it can be an unpleasant experience. Understanding the common causes of this odor and following some simple dos and don'ts when using (or storing) your coat, can help ensure you don’t experience any more foul smelling surprises. Let’s explore these guidelines in further detail.


  • Do check the care tags before washing or drying your down jacket to avoid having wet fabric cause bacteria growth that produces an offensive odor.
  • Do hang up your coat after every use and allow time for all moisture to evaporate completely to prevent mold and mildew from forming inside it.
  • Do use detergents or deodorizers such as white vinegar, cold water, baking soda or natural sprays designed for athletic wear when trying to get rid of existing odors on the fabric fibers.
  • Do take your down coat to a professional cleaner every six months or so depending on usage conditions if more serious odors persist despite attempted home remedies.


  • Don’t forget to inspect your down jacket after every wear - this includes checking for any damage, tears or discoloration as well as ensuring that it is completely dry before being put away in storage.
  • Don’t store your coat in a dark and damp place - doing so will create an environment where mold and mildew may thrive, leading to foul smelling odors over time.
  • Don't use harsh chemical cleaners on the fabric surface of your garment - this could potentially cause discoloration or shrinkage that will make it difficult to wear comfortably again.
  • Don’t try washing it with hot water - doing so could damage the insulation inside the material and reduce its ability to keep you warm in chilly weather conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why does my down jacket have a wet dog smell?

The wet dog smell in your down jacket could be caused by moisture retention, bacterial growth, inadequate drying, or storage in damp conditions.

Q2: Does down naturally have a smell, or is it indicative of a problem?

Down itself doesn't have a strong odor. A noticeable smell, especially resembling wet dog, is often an indication of moisture-related issues.

Q3: How can I prevent my down jacket from smelling like wet dog?

Ensure thorough drying after washing, store the jacket in a cool, dry place, and address any moisture-related issues promptly. Following proper care and storage practices can help prevent unpleasant odors.

Q4: Can washing my down jacket eliminate the wet dog smell?

Washing your down jacket with a suitable detergent can help eliminate odors, especially if they're caused by bacteria or lingering moisture. Be sure to follow proper washing and drying instructions.

Q5: What's the significance of using a gentle cycle and cold water when washing a down jacket?

Using a gentle cycle and cold water helps prevent damage to the delicate down feathers and minimizes the risk of shrinkage. It's a crucial step in maintaining the quality of your down jacket.

Q6: Are there specific detergents recommended for washing down jackets?

Yes, using a specialized down wash, like Eucalan Delicate Wash, is often recommended. These detergents are designed to clean down products effectively without compromising the loft or insulation.

Q7: Can I use fabric softeners to improve the smell of my down jacket?

It's advisable to avoid fabric softeners, as they can leave a residue on the down, affecting its loft and insulation. Stick to using a down-specific detergent for optimal results.

Q8: How do I address persistent odors in my down jacket?

If the smell persists, consider spot cleaning with a mild detergent, ensuring thorough drying, and, if necessary, seek professional cleaning services that specialize in down products.

Q9: Can I wear my down jacket if it smells like wet dog?

While it's not harmful, wearing a down jacket with a persistent wet dog smell can be unpleasant. Taking steps to eliminate the odor will enhance your overall wearing experience.

Q10: Is it normal for down jackets to develop odors over time?

While down jackets may develop odors if not properly cared for, it's not a normal characteristic. Following recommended care guidelines can help maintain the freshness of your jacket over time.


If your down jacket is starting to smell like a wet dog there are several potential causes behind it ranging from wet fabric to mold and mildew growth - along with other factors such as detergents or deodorizers being used on the fabric fibers over time.

If none of these remedies work then taking it to a professional cleaner would probably be your best bet for getting rid of any stubborn odors for good!


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