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Domestic Science: How to Wash a Down Comforter

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Domestic Science: How to Wash a Down Comforter

July 24, 2019

Over the past several months, we’ve been touting the benefits of a clean bed, from pillow to mattress (see Domestic Science: How to Clean a Mattress and Domestic Science: How to Wash a Pillow). Our latest installment? How to wash a down comforter. A good down comforter should be a lifetime-lasting heirloom item. But how do you maintain it? You may think washing a down comforter will mat the feathers or otherwise compromise its integrity, but the truth is, down benefits from a gentle wash. Here’s how.

Large capacity front loaders are best for washing your comforter at home. See  Easy Pieces: Front-Loading Washing Machines.
Above: Large capacity front loaders are best for washing your comforter at home. See 10 Easy Pieces: Front-Loading Washing Machines.

Professional Option

Heavy detergents and chemicals will compromise your down; therefore, dry-cleaning is not recommended (you may, however, ask your dry-cleaner to professionally launder your comforter, which will cost about $30 to $60, depending on the size). If time is of the essence, this may be the best option.

Washing a Down Comforter at Home

If your machine has preset cycles, select one that is gentle but also allows for a high spin speed.
Above: If your machine has preset cycles, select one that is gentle but also allows for a high spin speed.

If you have access to an industrial-size machine, either at home or in a laundromat, it’s easy and more economical to wash a down comforter yourself.

  • Only use a washer that is large enough to accommodate your comforter or duvet, with ample room to spare (as with any material, your machine will not clean as effectively when it’s overstuffed). With down, it’s even more important; you want the detergent and the rinsing water to freely circulate among the feathers. Also, never use a top loader with center agitator as these can stretch the material and compress the feathers.
  • Use a small amount of mild detergent. Harsh soaps and chemicals will strip the feathers of their natural coating. Do not use fabric softener, as this will coat the down, reducing its performance.
  • Select a gentle setting. If you feel your duvet needs a deeper clean, consider pre-treating any soiled spots by soaking them in a tub of warm water and mild soap.
  • Use cold or warm water, so as not to strip the down, and to avoid shrinking the exterior cover.
  • Rinse twice to make sure all detergent is removed.
  • Set your spin cycle on high to ensure that you remove as much water as possible.

Drying Your Down Comforter

If you don&#8
Above: If you don’t have dryer balls, a couple of tennis balls will also speed up the drying process.

As we learned with our pillows, drying bedding can take a long time, several hours or more.

  • Select a large capacity dryer.
  • Add a few dryer balls to hasten the drying process and to help fluff the down.
  • Time-dry your comforter at a low to medium heat for one cycle or one hour. Do not dry on auto setting, as sensors will stop once the outside, not the inside, is dry.
  • Remove the duvet and fluff it with your hands to redistribute the down. Reload and dry for another hour/cycle.
  • Repeat this process several times. Once you feel the comforter is throughly dry, double check it by allowing it to cool and then testing the interior for dryness one more time.
Our down comforter, cleaned and refreshed.
Above: Our down comforter, cleaned and refreshed.

Basic Down Comforter Care

We stored an extra duvet wrapped in an old linen sheet, folded furoshiki-style.
Above: We stored an extra duvet wrapped in an old linen sheet, folded furoshiki-style.

Help prolong the life of your duvet with these maintenance tips:

  • Protect your down comforter from dirt, mites, and dust with a cover. Wash your cover once a month.
  • Fluff your duvet daily to remove dust and dandruff and to help maintain its shape.
  • In between washings, spot clean any soiled areas. When doing so, pull the down away from the cover so it does not get wet.
  • Wash your down comforter at least once a year.
  • Store your comforter in an ample, breathable fabric bag or even loosely wrapped in a sheet. Do not vacuum pack (read “mash”) or store in a plastic bag.

Rest (and clean) easy with these other domestic science tips:

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