How To Wash A Down Comforter: Learn Step by Step Tutorial

Although they add incredible comfort and coziness to your bed, down comforters can be overwhelming to clean at home even with the best cleaners and dryers. If you have a large down-filled comforter, then you will probably need a visit to your local laundromat. Alternatively, you can opt for a bigger washing machine with extra-large front loading opening. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to get your down comforter professionally dry-cleaned. To learn step by step tutorial on how to wash a down comforter just read the full article.

how to wash a down comforter

There are several ways to go about cleaning provided you have the right supplies, patience and a few hours to spare. Learning how to wash a down comforter should be an exciting process especially since most require cleaning once in 3-5 years depending on the size and dirt accumulation. In fact, it is advisable to resist washing your down filled items frequently as this may damage the stuffing.

Most manufacturers will provide some cleaning instructions on their labels. Nonetheless, you can choose from several cleaning methods including machine washing and dry cleaning. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide of how to wash a down comforter at home or at your local laundromat.

Down comforters are often large and fluffed, making them difficult to handle. Most will not fit in your home washer unless you have one with an extra-large front loading. It is discouraged to attempt hand washing such items as this technique will twist and damage the stuffing and overall quality. 

Machine washing, on the other hand, is quite ideal. All you need is some mild homemade detergent, extra-large washing machine, and large (extra-capacity) dryer. You will also need some tennis balls or dryer balls during drying.

If you are concerned about using detergents, you can replace it with shampoo and other soapy cleaning solutions that do not contain surfactants found in detergents. As a matter of fact, many people are starting to embrace detergent-free laundry washing as a way of cutting down cost, conserving the environment and reducing chemical exposure at their homes. That aside, here are the three main steps involved in washing a down comforter using a washing machine;

Step 1 – Loading into machine

Loading in to washing machine

If you do not own one, visit your local laundromat to find a washing machine with the largest front-loading and load your down comforter. The less crowded the machine is, the better the results you will achieve so make sure there is no other piece of cloth inside the machine.

Step 2 – Adding detergent

Adding Detergent

Use a small amount of mild detergent and add into the machine washer. Avoid using too much detergent as it can strip the comforter’s natural coating. You can find other alternatives such as shampoos if you do not want to use detergents. Never use dish-washing liquid t clean your laundry.

Step 3 – Washing

Washing Configuration

Choose a gentle/delicate washing setting on the machine. It should also include two rinsing cycles. It is very important to remove the last residues of the detergent before drying so there is no harm in throwing in an extra rinsing cycle.

There are various precautions to take when using a machine washer to clean your down comforter. These include the following;

  • Sealing torn openings

Before you start washing, it is important to check the entire surface cover for worn out stitches and holes. Use fine stitches to seal any such openings to avoid losing your stuffing.

  • Cleaning tough stains

It advisable to use enzymatic cleaners for tough stains such as urine and blood. For food and water stains, you can use color-safe bleaches. Simply remember to pull down the cover so you do not end up damaging the down.

  • Water temperature

Do not wash your comforter on cold or hot water as either can be hard on the down. Rather, use lukewarm water and a small amount of detergent.

  • Wet odor

You should note that most downs have an odor when wet, but this dissipates as it dries. Avoid over-washing and using more detergents trying to resolve this.

There may be other minor observations to make although most of them revolve around the above. It is important to read through the manufacturer label and cleaning instructions before you start washing. You can also stuff a few socks with tennis balls and secure them to the comforter using a knot. This added weight will prevent the comforter from bunching and also helps to agitate more dirt and soil during washing.

Drying a down comforter

After learning how to wash a down comforter, you need to properly dry and air for best results. Such items are quite bulky so line drying is very discouraged. It will not only stretch out the comforter and break them down, but also risks damaging the natural color when exposed to long hours of sunlight. Drying a down comforter requires time and patience even with a machine dryer. It may take up to three hours or more to get your comforter as dry as new. Here are the processes involved;

  • Choose an extra-capacity drier and remove any other laundry. Set the dryer to the lowest possible setting.
  • Add two tennis balls or a pair of clean canvas (without laces) to the comforter to fluff the down (stuffing) and keep the comforter evenly distributed.
  • Using air fluff, run the dryer turning it off periodically to break up lumps that often form during drying.
  • Check the temperature every time to ensure it is not getting too warm as this will scorch the down and damage its fibers.

Drying a down comfort may take up to 4 hours. The goal is to get it as dry as possible before taking it off the dryer. If following drying the comforter is still damp, you can lay it out on a picnic table on a breezy warm day to dry out all the moisture once you get back home. You may see dark or brown spots on the down cover after washing. This should not cause any panic since not all downs come in pure white color; some are brown or contain dark edges. There are other ways to dry a comforter, but it is recommendable to stick to a commercial dryer since other options come with various disadvantages.

Can I use a clothing line to dry a down comforter?

It is probably best to avoid clothing lines until the comforter is somewhat dry and does not contain significant moisture weight. Using a clothing line when the down is still wet will not only put pressure on your lines but also stretches the fabric used as the water pulls everything down. Your comforter will lose its distribution and fluffiness. 

What’s more, clothing lines require sun-rays or a warm day for your comforter to dry? It also takes more time to completely dry and direct sunlight may tarnish the natural colors of your cover. However, you can use a clothing line once the down has been dried in a commercial laundry dryer. Alternatively, you can use a picnic table to air out the comforter on a warm sunny day.

Dry cleaning vs. laundering

There is always the debate about whether you need to get your down comforter dry cleaned or laundered. Most people assume the two are the same, which is the popular misconception when dealing with commercial cleaners. Dry cleaning is a sure way to avoid shrinkage and get all the dirt away from your down comforter.

However, most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals that may end up damaging your comfy bedding and reducing its fluffiness. Laundering, on the other hand, is what has been explained by the above mentioned steps. It involves washing your down comforter in a commercial size machine washer and then a dryer. It is no different than conventional laundry washing, only that you need to observe specific precautions to maintain the quality and performance.

Laundry washing and dry cleaning costs

Dry cleaning costs vary from $20 to $80 or even more depending on the size of your down comforter. Some brands come with specific instructions to dry clean your comforter every 3-5 years (when used with a duvet cover) or 1-2 years for those without a duvet cover.

Nonetheless, dry cleaning is often added to the care tag as an alternative option for those who own large dry cleaners. Unless you trust the commercial dry cleaner to use green non-toxic solutions, it is advisable to use laundry services instead. Most laundry washing offers cost under $30 although this price may vary depending on a number of factors including size, company, and location. The cap is usually at $60.

Hand washing your down comforter

Hand washing is not a recommendable technique when it comes to laundering your down comforter. This should be a no-brainier considering how bulky and delicate comforters are; it is simply too much work and you risk damaging the down.

However, there are various cleaning processes that you can complete with hand washing. For instance, hand washing can be used as an ideal technique to remove tough stains like urine and blood using enzymatic cleaners. This can be down by gently swooshing the outer cover of the comforter and applying cleaners on affected spots.

Hand washing can also be used to clean duvet covers and sheets used under a comforter. All those additional protective layers can be washed with this technique. Nonetheless, it is easier using a machine washer to clean such fabric alongside another laundry. When hand washing, use gentle, rather than rough motions to swoosh the cover from side to side. Avoid rubbing parts of the down together as it is done with other clothes.

How often should I wash my down comforter?

As aforesaid, most manufacturers recommend that you wash your comforter at least once in 2-5 years if you use it with a duvet cover. Otherwise, you should wash every 1-2 years to avoid dirt and grime accumulation. Unfortunately, frequent washing will lead to damages and early quality depreciation. If you want to maintain your comforter’s coziness and fluffiness for long, there are various things you can do to reduce the need for washing. Some of them include the following;

  • Slip in a duvet cover to absorb your skin oils and sweat
  • Add an additional layer of sheet together with a duvet cover for even more protection
  • You can add pillow protectors and covers
  • Freshen you're down pillows and comforters by occasionally airing them out on a warm breezy day.

Washing without detergent

Detergents contain surfactants that can be harsh to both the environment and your family. Awareness concerns about the adverse effects of surfactants have become quite popular in recent times to accompany the move towards green sustainable solutions in various industries.

Many people are already choosing to wash their laundry without detergent by replacing it with other alternatives. Achieving the same effect with soaps and shampoos is still a challenge especially for those accustomed to using detergents; it requires more swooshing and time to get the dirt off. However, the overall benefits cannot be overstated as it serves both the environment and your family health.

Finding commercial cleaners that do not use detergents can be a daunting task especially since detergents get the work easily done. However, they do exist and only require keen review and comparison. You can perform a search for such cleaners within your area or inquire from your local laundromat whether they offer detergent-free cleaning options. Better yet, you can choose the cleaning agents you want on your own once you are at the laundromat.

Summary

Learning how to wash a down comforter should only take a few minutes and does not require any technical knowledge. There are various aspects to review before choosing a laundromat or sending your down comforter to the cleaners. Considerations such as reputation, professional experience, quality guarantees, service capacity and use of green solutions are all important when selecting a laundromat. If you can afford it, you may buy a larger washing and drying machine. Nevertheless, a commercial outlet will do just fine. Simply read through a couple of reviews to determine other customers’ sentiments regarding the quality of service provided.

Apart from the business you use, it is important to understand your comforter’s requirements and how the manufacturer intended you to use and clean. The above steps will help you finish washing any size down comforter without much hassle. They also include tips to protect your comforters and reduce your washing requirement. If you must use the services of a cleaner, make sure they have a good reputation for providing top quality services within the area. Most commercial laundromats will allow you to use their machines or get assistance from one of their staff.

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