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Canning Day Quilt

Spring Cleaning Your Bedding: Washing Down Comforters

I change out clean sheets on the beds once a week.   It’s called “Clean Sheet Day” at our house and I love it.  I could swear I sleep better on clean sheet day!

But once a year in the Spring, the bedding gets special treatment in the form of spring cleaning.

This week and next I will cover several topics about bedding, beginning today with down comforters.  This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my sister-in-law the other day.  She was surprised when I said something about washing our down comforters.  She never thought you could wash them… and was curious how.

I love our down comforters so much that we have one on every bed in our home.  They keep us toasty warm in the winter enabling us to keep our heat low at night, saving us big bucks on our heating bill.  The only time of year we don’t use our comforters is in the heat of summer.  Other than that, our comforters keep us quite temperate throughout the year.

Since I don’t want to strip the natural oils from the feathers of the down, I limit the washing of our comforters to once a year.  To keep them as clean as possible in between washings I use a comforter cover.

Cleaning bedding as large as a down comforter requires a large front load washer.  My large capacity front loader handles our queen-sized comforter… but if you have a top loader or a smaller washer… do what I used to do and head to the laundry mat.

I always wash our comforters, one at a time, on the gentle cycle using a gentle laundry detergent in a small amount.  I always add a second rinse cycle when washing comforters as well.  You want to make extra sure you get all of the soap out.

Next comes the dryer… and the important part:

Add some clean tennis balls or a clean canvas shoe (no buckles or sharp metal!) to the dryer along with your comforter.  The tennis balls will knock around and fluff up the down. I always dry my comforters on low heat.  It takes a while, but isn’t as hard on the down.

Once the dry cycle is complete, I remove the comforter and hold it up to the light.  If I see any clumps it means there is still some dampness (not good) so it goes back in for a little more drying.   If the day is nice and warm, the comforter could also go outside to blow in the breeze.  There is nothing like sunshine and breeze to make something feel really clean.

So there’s the first in my little series on bedding.  I think I love my bed a little more than is healthy… after a long day, there is nothing quite so nice.

O bed! O bed! Delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.

~Thomas Hood

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26 Responses to “Spring Cleaning Your Bedding: Washing Down Comforters”

  • Sarah:

    Thank you SO much for this article!! I had given up on my old comforter, so saggy and sad. I feel this procedure may give it new life!! Looking forward to the weekend even more now to try it out!!

  • Ashley:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who LOVES my bed! It has got to be my favoite piece of furniture in the house. Is it time for bed yet? : )

  • 1. I have a down comforter and NEVER knew I could wash it.
    2. Because of #1, you are my hero.
    3. That quote should be on a pillow or something. I love it.

  • I always sleep better on clean sheet day! Although changing my sheets twice a week would be ideal, at this point in my life I just don’t have time. Or a down comforter. My daughter swears by hers so maybe one day my husband and I will have one too.

  • I think clean sheets are the best remedy to insomnia. I also like my sheets to be cool when I climb into bed, even in the winter. Clean sheets always seem to be cooler in temperature to me.

    I have washed my down comforter while thinking the entire time that it was a sin against all that was holy. I feel better knowing that others do it as well (and even say it’s a good thing). I take mine to the Laundromat to use their big washers and to get all my comforters done in one fell swoop.

  • Bethaney:

    I never knew you could wash the down comforters. This is the best tip ever!

  • I have done this too. (Martha taught me) I have had much sucess too!

  • That is so funny that you posted this. My comforter is listed as dry clean only and it is recommended to only do it every 5 years. Well, the 5 years were up (which seems way too long, even with a cover on the thing!) I didn’t want to bring it to the dry cleaners and some things online said it was okay to do yourself and others said do NOT. So, on Monday I did exactly what you just posted! My husband laughed at me when I told him we needed some tennis balls for drying it. But it washed and dried perfectly and I only wish I had done this sooner! Thanks for your post because now other people like me that wonder if it is okay and need a real person to say – yes you CAN wash them yourself – have this post.

  • I LOVE clean linens. I’d wash them every day if I could! Unforutnately, my bedspread is dryclean only! Bummer!

  • We don’t have down comforters at our house. We just have regular comforters. But this is still so helpful. I wanted to add a few little tips of my own, if that’s okay. I use dryer balls in my laundry all the time to help the clothes dry better. I learned (from using cloth diapers) that dryer sheets will actually leave a coating on your clothes/towels and eventually your towels will begin to repel water. So I don’t use dryer sheets anymore. Also, hanging anything in the sun is good for helping to bleach it. The sun is great for removing or lightening stains, especially on white things. It also has some disinfecting power.

    Thank you so much for your great tips, and I hope you don’t mind that I piggybacked on them!

  • You make me want to order a down comforter right now!

  • Gen Michael:

    I have used this technique to clean down comforters with much success. Another drying tip I discovered is to use the “anti-wrinkle” setting which will turn the dryer on and off at intervals after the dry cycle is complete. Doing this for another 30 minutes to an hour gets the comforter completely dry and fluffy. One question is whether you can also wash a featherbed. Have you ever tried it?

    • Calli:

      Hi Gen, Washing a feather bed is the same technique I believe… it’s just that you will need a super capacity washer and dryer to make it work. I’ve not tried it personally, but I know it can be done.

      Cheers, Calli

      • Barb:

        you can wash all down products as long as the shell of the product is washable … down duvets,down pillows,feather beds in a very large washer the largest at the laundromat… down jackets and down sleeping bags also…pre-soaking in a big muck type bucket for stained items in hot hot water and oxiclean, you will be amazed at how clean everything is when you wash it.

  • kathy ward:

    i wash my down comforters as well – and when i put the shoe in the dryer to fluff the blanket – i put the shoe in an old clean stocking – kneehi or cut off a foot of pantyhose. if you wouldn’t mind, go to kathywarddesigns on facebook and like my page! thanks!

  • Tatiana:

    great advise- thank you! How about washing down pillows? Has anybody tried it?

  • Sharon:

    Just one more comment – I used new tennis balls to dry my daughter’s white down ski jacket. Only problem was it left yellow streaks on her jacket. Pre-treated streaks and rewashed jacket. This time I put the tennis balls in baby socks – no streaks!!

  • Mary:

    Was going to buy a new down comforter until I seen your post here. Thanks so much I will giveit a try.

  • Thank you so much! I needed this! One question though.. Can I use fabric softener or dryer sheets? I am obsessed With both!

    • Calli:

      Hi Cicelie, I would be careful with using fabric softener, I’m not sure how it would go with the down feathers… I think you should be OK with dryer sheets, but I would check with you comforter manufacturer just to be safe. Happy washing! Calli

  • Kitty:

    Hello – I just bought a Echo Collection Comforter bed set – (at a consignment sale – appears to NEVER have been used) – It looks fancy – no tags on the bed spread but the pillow sham says dry clean only. I don’t want to dry clean as that would cost more than i paid for it. What do i do ??? I looked for it on the computer and couldn’t find it. Thanx, Kitty

  • Sandra:

    It worked!! I took my king size down to the laundermat to wash in the large washer. threw it in the large dryer on low heat with a clean pair of tennis shoes. Took a while to dry but looks like new and it fluffed up. Saved me $35

  • Shannon:

    This is so helpful. Today I called local dry cleaners to see if they could machine wash my king down comforter. It’s costs about $40. I figured I would leave it in the hands of professionals. But what if they don’t take as much care to make sure it’s thoroughly rinsed dried and fluffed. After reading all these success stories maybe I will try it myself.

  • Tracy:

    How often can you wash the down comforter?

  • Vanessa:

    Thank you for this post! My Eddie Bauer comforter has the same instructions you gave. I have another one that said dry clean only… Will try washing th tomorrow! Thanks! Saves a whole lot of money!

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