How to Wash a Columbia Jacket (With Cleaning Tips)

The Columbia brand makes great quality jackets, and it’s important to know how to wash them and keep them clean.

Columbia jackets are designed to get exposed to many elements, including grass, gravel, mud, salt, sand, and water. These elements can wear down the jacket over time but proper care and cleaning of your Columbia jacket can extend the life of the garment.

How you wash your Columbia jacket will depend on the type of fabric it has. That said, most Columbia jackets require a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water. Mild detergent without fabric softener or bleach is also a must.

Four different types of Columbia jackets exist – fleece, rain, down, and omni-heat. This guide goes through the steps you’ll need to take with each type of Columbia jacket.

Columbia Jacket Cleaning

Washing a Columbia Fleece Jacket

Before you put a Columbia fleece jacket into the washer, be sure to zip it up and turn it inside out. This will prevent the zipper from catching on the fabric and damaging it. When you wash a fleece jacket inside out, it helps the fabric last longer.

Now that we have that out of the way, the next step is to look at the label on your detergent’s bottle. Make sure it’s suitable for delicate clothing and that it does not contain any bleach or softening agents.

If it does, don’t use it. Go out and buy detergent that’s bleach and fabric softener-free. Provided you have suitable detergent, set your washing machine to the delicate cycle. You want cold water, so you don’t shrink your jacket.

Once the cycle is finished, don’t throw that jacket in the dryer. Find a well-ventilated space to let it air dry.

Washing a Columbia Rain Jacket

A Columbia rain jacket usually contains waterproof material. This means you need to pre-treat any stains and remove clumps of dirt or debris. Like fleece jackets, you want to use a detergent that does not contain any softeners or bleach.

However, a key difference is you also don’t want to use liquid detergents. The preferred method is to use a powder instead of a detergent. This will prevent damage to the rain jacket’s waterproof coating.

Go ahead and zip all zippers up and fasten all Velcro on the jacket before you toss it into the laundry machine. Use cold water and the delicate cycle. When it’s done, pull out the rain jacket and hang it up to air dry. Try not to use a dryer as it can melt parts of the jacket.

Washing a Columbia Down Jacket

If you own a Columbia down jacket, it’s best to get detergent that’s made specifically for this type of coat. For those who can’t find down jacket detergent, a mild one will do in a pinch.

Similar to other types of Columbia jackets, zip them up and wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle. But when it comes to drying, down jackets are a little different. You can use a dryer, as long as you use a low-temperature setting.

In addition, you’ll want to throw in a few tennis balls or balls about the size of those. The balls help the insulation in your jacket puff out. You can also let a down jacket air dry, but you have to manually fluff out the insulation.

Getting a Columbia Omni-Heat Jacket Clean

Omni-heat Columbia jackets look like down jackets, but the material helps provide heat and is usually water-resistant or waterproof. To clean these jackets, you’ll need a mild detergent and cold water.

Use a gentle or delicate cycle after you’ve zipped up the coat. To dry it out, the best course of action is to let it air dry.

Columbia Washing Tips for Jackets

Even though certain jackets will have different cleaning requirements, there are a few general tips and tricks that can be used when washing any Columbia jacket.    

1. Before putting the jacket in the wash, brush off all loose dirt and grime to prevent it from going through the wash alongside the jacket.

2. Treat stains as soon as possible by blotting at them with cold water and a drop of dish soap or mild detergent. Don’t rub because that could cause the stain to set into the fabric.

3. Do not wash excessively, as this wears down the fabric.

4. Ensure all zippers, buttons, clasps, hooks, and other fasteners are closed to prevent snagging.

5. Whenever possible, hang dry the jacket because excessive heat and tumbling from the dryer will break the fibers down quicker.

6. Store the jacket in a clean, dry, and dust-free environment during the off season.

Should I Iron a Columbia Jacket?

In most cases, the answer is no. The heat from the iron can cause damage to the jacket’s fabric or other parts of the coat. You shouldn’t even use the iron on a low setting as it can impact the performance of your coat’s fabric.

Using Mild Detergent For Cleaning

Mild detergent usually contains natural or biodegradable ingredients. Some of them may be labeled for sensitive skin, fragrance-free, or free of dyes. A few brands tout the detergent as eco-friendly and non-toxic.

If you’re not sure which laundry detergents are mild, ask a store representative or perform a basic online search using the keywords “mild detergent.” You can also search for product recommendations on the sites of major online retailers.

How Should I Store a Columbia Jacket after Cleaning?

Once your Columbia jacket is clean and dry, you’ll want to hang it up and store it in a well-ventilated area. Closets are okay as long as there is enough breathing room in-between garments.

Properly storing your jacket prevents the build-up of mold and mildew. Never put a wet Columbia jacket away in storage.


While you can clean Columbia jackets in washing machines, you should do so with cold water and gentle detergent. You should wash Columbia jackets on a delicate cycle.

Most of them require air drying in an area with plenty of airflow. To help prevent damage in the washing machine, it’s best to zip up all zippers and fasten any Velcro straps.