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How to Wash a Down Comforter — The Ultimate Breakdown

How to Wash a Down Comforter — The Ultimate Breakdown

In many households, washing down-filled items tends to fall down to the bottom of the laundry list. That’s because most of these objects are bulky, and can feel like a daunting task for any washing beginner.

But not to worry!

If you want to learn how to wash a down comforter, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll break it all down for you, including storing, handwashing, drying, and protecting your precious comforters. So let’s get into it!

How Often Should You Be Washing Your Down Comforter

First things first - How much (washing) is too much? Well, lucky for all down comforter owners, most manufacturers recommend washing only every few years. 

Of course, the first thing you should always do is check the manufacturer’s care tag. But if the tag is nowhere to be found or has been washed of all instructions, here’s what you need to consider.

Protecting your down comforter with a cover can extend the time between washes. Also, leaving it out to lay in the sun for a few hours can really refresh it. 

But let’s consider that you can’t or just don’t want to take all these extra steps. A good rule of thumb is to clean a down comforter once a year - or - until it gets soiled.

Dry Cleaning Your Down Comforter

If you’re looking to have your comforter professionally washed, the first thing to know is that it should actually be laundered, not dry-cleaned. The harsh chemicals typically used in dry cleaning might harm your comforter.

On the other hand, taking it to a professional will ensure that it’s washed in a commercial-sized machine. That alone can be a pretty good motive, especially if your washer can’t take a bigger load. 

The prices from one laundry service to another will vary, but depending on the size of your comforter, you can expect to spend anywhere between $40 to $70 CAD.

How to Wash a Down Comforter at Home

Before you toss your beautiful, but dirty, comforter in the wash, there are a few steps to consider. So let’s take a quick look at all the implements you need, the prep work involved, and how to wash a down comforter without harming it or your machine.

The List

These are the key ingredients required to pull off a successful comforter wash at home:

  • A full-size, front-loading washing machine
  • A full-size dryer or drying rack
  • Gentle/mild laundry detergent
  • Stain treatment (optional)
  • Two clean, cotton socks with tennis or wool dryer balls knotted inside (optional)

The Prep

If you still want to know how to wash a down comforter at home, the first step is to make sure your washing machine is full-sized. The comforter needs to comfortably fit in there, with ample room inside, considering it’s going to get heavier once it fills up with water.

If you’re certain that your washer can rise up to the challenge, do a visual inspection of the comforter beforehand. Ensure that there are no worn stitching or holes, which could lead to you losing stuffing during the process. 

Also, if there are any tough stains on the comforter (or pillow), like urine or blood, you need to treat those. It’s best to use an enzymatic cleaner or non-chlorine bleach for those persistent spots.

Once you’ve taken care of that, choose your detergent wisely. If you can, try to find a product which is specifically made for down items. But if you can’t, use a mild laundry detergent. 

The Wash

As you’ve probably noticed by now, knowing how to wash a down comforter properly takes a bit more effort than other laundry. That’s why it’s crucial to follow each step carefully.

When you have the comforter in the full-size machine, an industry trick is to put two tennis or dryer balls inside two clean socks. Tie a secure knot around both and pop them in with the comforter.

Doing so should keep the down from bunching in the machine, all the while providing a bit of extra agitation. The agitation will help remove more dirt, body oils, and sweat from your bedding.

Then, put a small amount of your chosen laundry detergent into the correct compartment. A good rule is to use half the amount you would use for a regular load to avoid ending up with a down stiffened by soap. 

Here’s the most important part - use a delicate or gentle setting for your wash and lukewarm water. Choosing cold or hot water for your cycle can be hard on the down, and it’s best to avoid the extremes.

If you can, you should also do an extra rinse cycle once the first one’s done. That will help remove any soap build-up and dry the down faster (if you don’t have a dryer).

Keep in mind that after the wash, your comforter will most likely be pretty heavy. Take it out of the washer gently to ensure you don’t create any rips in the fabric.

Hand Washing Your Down Comforter

If the washing machine routes are a no-go, you’ll probably need to know how to wash a down comforter by hand. The process is pretty simple, albeit a bit exhausting, so let’s get into it.

First, decide where you’ll be doing the wash. A clean bathtub is ideal, but a large sink can work if you’re in a pinch. Just make sure you have access to warm running water.

Then, do a visual inspection and pre-treat stains if there are any. After scrubbing the stain, make sure to leave the treatment for 10–20 minutes.

While the stain is being treated, fill your bathtub or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle detergent. Mix the two together.

The next step is to gently push down the comforter into the water, lightly agitating it with your hands. Avoid twisting or wringing the comforter because those motions can cause damage. 

Once you’re happy with the washing, leave the comforter to soak in the water for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.

Drain the water from your tub/sink, all the while pressing down on the comforter to remove excess water. If you can, soak your down one more time, but in clean, detergent-free water this time. It will help take away the excess soap, which can harm the down.

How to Dry a Down Comforter

When you take the comforter out of the washing machine or the tub, you might notice a slight odour. But not to worry, it doesn’t mean you’ve skipped a step or done something wrong! All down-filled items tend to have a distinct smell once they come out of the wash but it dissipates during the drying process. 

Using a Dryer

If you have access to a dryer, it’s time to pop your comforter in while ensuring to spread it out as much as possible. You can then add the same balls in socks you’ve used for the wash. It will, once again, help keep the down from clumping.

You can also use fabric softener sheets, and place just one on top of the bedding.

A key thing to note here is that down can scorch. That’s why it’s imperative to use your dryer on the lowest heat setting you have. Also, at 30-minute intervals, stop the machine, and take out your comforter. That will help make sure the down isn’t overheating while keeping it evenly distributed. 

Depending on the size of your comforter, as well as your dryer, it might take around three to four hours for the entire process. You’ll know it’s completely dry when the down feels evenly spread out and light.

But, and this is a big one, do not leave your comforter damp. That’s a sure path to mildew and odour. 

A good trick is to finish your drying on a clothesline, which is, preferably, outside. This tip is especially good if your comforter is a crisp, white colour, like our Boho Chic Comforter. Letting it dry in the sun will lighten any stains, all while brightening your beautiful fabric even more!

Protecting Your Down Comforter

Earlier when we talked about how to wash a down comforter, we touched on the subject of protecting it to ensure you don’t have to wash it so often. But we want to expand on it a bit, because, as they say, prevention is better than cure.

First off, try to have your comforter inside a duvet cover at all times. The cover will protect it from spills and stains, and it’s much easier to wash.

You should also spot clean from time to time as it can really increase your time between washes. Just remember to push the down away from the affected area so it doesn’t get wet. 

Another trick that needs to become a part of your daily habit is fluffing the down when making your bed. The steady airflow can redistribute the down and it will continue to loft.

If you want to redistribute some down, which can shift during everyday use or the wash, use your hand and forearm together. That way, you won’t create clumps, and the down will look as seamless as the day you bought it.

Storing Your Down Comforter

Knowing how to wash a down comforter is just as important as knowing how to store it. Properly protecting it while you’re not using it is half the battle.

During the off seasons when you’re not using your comforter, you should find a place for it that allows breathability. One way to do that is by putting it in a cloth bag. 

Not only will it allow both the down and the fabric to breathe, but a cloth bag will also prevent any odour or moisture buildup.

As far as the location goes, given how bulky comforters tend to be, it might be difficult to find good storage space. Wherever you decide to put it, ensure that it’s not compressed and that it has room to be fluffy.

The next time you take it out, all you have to do is give it a good shake, fluff it up a bit, put a duvet cover, and you’ll be ready to go!

Other Useful Tips

Here are some other, bonus tips that might help you out while you’re figuring out how to wash a down comforter:

  • No agitators — Don’t wash any bedding in a machine that has an agitator. Agitators are the tall, vertical spindles you find in the center of a toploading machine. They can clump or potentially even damage your comforter.

  • Downtime — If you’re taking your comforter to a laundromat, you’ll probably have a lot of downtime on your hands. Between the washing, rinsing, and drying, the entire process will last hours. So if you can, bring a book, a game, or even a friend to keep you company. Never leave your laundry unattended.

  • No bleach — While you might get away with using non-chlorine bleach on tough stains, its chlorine bleach counterpart is a big no-no. Bleach can not only reduce loft but also damage down and even disintegrate fibres.

  • No fabric softeners — Having a soft and fluffy comforter is the dream, so not adding fabric softener might sound counterintuitive. However, the chemicals in it cause the fibres to clump together and flatten. In turn, a fabric softener will lessen the comforter insulating capabilities.
  • Choosing the Best Comforter

    If you feel like your old comforter is washed up, it’s probably time for a new one. But since the good down comforters last for years, this isn’t a decision you should take lightly. So here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

    1. The Underside

    Down comforters are usually divided between goose and duck down. Goose down is often the highest quality because it tends to feel softer. Also, goose down comforters have better insulation, providing more warmth. But they tend to come with a pretty high price tag, so if you’re on a budget, consider duck down.

    An alternative to the two popular down choices is Minky, which is made from high-quality fibres. They mimic the weight and feel of goose down, allowing them to provide the perfect underside in comforters. 

    1. Size

    When looking for the best size for your comforter, always take the exact measurements of your mattress. If you’re unsure which size comforter would be the best fit for your bed, check out our Sizing Chart. It can also help find the right size for you, your children, or your pets.

    1. Warmth Level

    Another thing to consider when buying a new comforter is when and where you’re planning on using it. Do you want it for year-round use or is it just for the cold weather? Those factors will determine the fill power and weight you should be looking for.

    Fill power describes how much material there is inside a gram of fabric, and it’s measured in grams per square meter (GSM). The higher the fill power is, the more insulation a comforter will provide.

    On the other hand, fill weight shows how much warmth a comforter will provide. And again, you want to be looking for a high number here. These are the same principles used for comforters, jackets, and sleeping bags.

    1. The Shell

    Another aspect that plays an important role in learning how to wash a down comforter, as well as the picking process, is the shell material. It represents the outer fabric that encases your comforter, and it comes in a variety of fabrics. The most common ones are:

    • Cotton and Cotton-blend 
    • Silk
    • Polyester and Microfiber Polyester

    Of course, the outer shell is a matter of personal preference, but they all carry some pros and cons. For example, cotton is famous for its breathability and softness, but is prone to shrinking. On the other hand, while silk is wrinkle-resistant and has strong fibre, it’s also on the more expensive side.

    Polyester, or a Microfiber Polyester blend, is soft, warm, and affordable, but it traps heat. If that sounds like it good be a good fit for you, you should check out our Sweet Blossoms and Check Me Out Blue comforters. 

    1. Maintenance 

    To avoid having to re-learn how to wash a down comforter every year, maintenance should be high on your list. You should be looking for something that is ideally wrinkle-free, quick-drying, and machine-washable. 

    To Sum Up

    Hopefully, we’ve helped you figure out how to wash a down comforter without wanting to pull your hair out. When in doubt, just remember - low temperature, no softener, and fluff. And if all else fails, rinse and repeat.

    And if you want to know more about the best comforters on the market, check out our store! All of our premium comforters are made of luxurious Minky fabrics and pass Oeko-Tex Standard-100, which means they’re devoid of any contaminants or harmful materials.

    If that all sounds too good to be true, get in touch with us to learn more about our products and our mission to pass the Tickie on to the world!