How to Wash a Down Comforter

Updated on December 15, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

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Maintaining your home is no small feat, whether you’re in a single-family home, a townhouse, or an apartment. From regularly cleaning your washing machine to keeping children’s bedrooms clean when they leave toys and clothes all over the floor, there’s no shortage of tasks to complete on your to-do list.

While you may be preoccupied taking care of everyone else’s rooms in your home, don’t forget about putting yourself first every once in a while and prioritizing the spaces that you frequent and that bring you peace. If your bedroom is your oasis, it’s important to look at that space and understand where you should be focusing your time and attention.

In this guide, we’ll be focusing on the importance of washing your down comforter. A comforter or duvet cover is an important part of creating a warm and welcoming space in your bedroom. Down comforters, in particular, are one of the most popular choices among homeowners and should be carefully cleaned and maintained in order to ensure your bedroom stays peaceful and inviting.

How Should I Wash My Down Comforter?

Down comforters are one of the more particular pieces of fabric that require careful attention and care in order to maintain their shape and quality. By taking time to learn the ​​best way to wash your down comforter, you can ensure its longevity and comfort and avoid spending money on a new comforter down the road.

There are two ways to effectively wash your down comforter, each yielding its own unique results.

At-Home Washer and Dryer

While most down comforters will explicitly say on their tags, dry clean only, it’s not always cost-effective or budget-friendly for homeowners to routinely bring their oversized comforter to a professional dry cleaner. If that’s the case, it is possible to wash yours at home if you have a front-loading, large-capacity at-home washer and dryer. Smaller machines are often unable to handle the weight and size of down comforters and should be avoided.

Dry Cleaners

Dry cleaning is often recognized as the best way to wash a down comforter, although it can be more costly than an at-home solution. Dry cleaning is a professional tool that uses commercial-size machines to wash and clean your garments, ensuring they aren’t shrunk in the process.

While dry cleaning is favoured for a variety of garments, from formal wear to everyday clothing items, it’s important to ensure your dry cleaner has the tools and products necessary to care for down comforters. Down, just like mattresses made of memory foam, can be delicate to care for, and harsh chemicals can actually harm them in the process of trying to protect and clean.

What is the Best Way to Wash a Down Comforter at Home?

When it comes to understanding what is the best way to wash a down comforter, it’s all about the products you use at home. The right products can be the difference between your comforter looking as good as new or having to spend money and replace it before it’s necessary.

Laundry Detergent

Without quality laundry detergent, you cannot effectively clean anything in your washing machine. Laundry detergents can be unique in their formulas, depending on the brand you purchase. Each brand has its own special ingredients; however, most detergents are designed with a spectrum of ingredients that act as the base for their formulas.

Alkalies are soluble salts and act as the base for most brand-name laundry detergents. They are commonly effective in removing dirt and stains from fabric without excessive scrubbing. Surfactants are also primarily used in today’s store-bought detergents. They are designed to break up stains and hold the dirt in the water to prevent the dirt from finding its way onto the surface of your clothing, towels, or down comforters.

Fabric Softener

While laundry detergent does the heavy lifting, fabric softener acts as the cherry on top of the sundae that is clean and fresh clothing and linens. Fabric softener offers a wide range of benefits to homeowners, including reduced wrinkles, protects and brightens colours, and reduced static cling.

Water Temperature

The right water temperature is crucial to washing your down comforter without damaging its exterior fabric. We recommend keeping your rinse cycle on cold rather than warm or hot water. Cold water not only protects any colouring but also helps protect your comforter from shrinking during the washing cycle.

Why Do Homeowners Clean Their Comforters

It may seem frivolous to spend time washing the part of your bedding that doesn’t touch your skin and is primarily used for added warmth but in reality, your comforter can accumulate plenty of dirt, dust, and pet hair that not only changes its inviting look but can also cause build-up and trigger allergic reactions.

There are plenty of reasons to regularly clean your down comforter, including: 

Dust Mites

Dust mites thrive in damp, warm conditions which can often be caused by your down comforter. Our core temperatures rise when we sleep and our bodies have to work to cool ourselves down through perspiration. This creates an inviting environment for dust mites to thrive.

Washing your down comforter ensures dust mites are kept at bay for at least six weeks and should be regularly maintained to protect yourself and your household from allergies.

Pet Hair

One of the benefits of learning about the best way to wash a down comforter is how effective it can be at removing trapped pet hair. While finding pet hair around your home is a natural occurrence and is a healthy way for your pets to shed their old coats and keep their fur healthy, it can be a nuisance and a health hazard when left to build up over time. Excess pet hair can trigger allergies, especially when it’s found on common household items such as your down comforter that you use every night.

While using pet odour remover products is a great way to remove fur from your carpets and couches, learning the best way to wash a down comforter at home is key to ensuring your bed stays clean and fresh regularly and keeps your pet hair at bay.

Dirt and Bacteria

Like any piece of fabric in your home, dirt and bacteria can build up if left unkempt for long periods of time. Washing your bed linens regularly ensures it stays clean and doesn’t transfer to your clothing or your skin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Down Comforters

Why is cleaning a down comforter important?

Like any areas in our home that we sit or lay on, fabrics and furniture can collect a significant amount of dirt and dust over time. Keeping these items clean is important for the health of the household and ensuring they look brand new for as long as possible.

Down comforters are known for creating warm and damp conditions since our bodies perspire at night to cool us down while the comforter itself seals in warmth. These conditions are known to attract dust mites which can trigger allergies and compromise your respiratory health. Learning how to wash a down comforter is essential to keeping dust mites away from your sacred space.

Pets can also contribute to the wear and tear of your furniture, including your bedding. Down comforters are especially delicate and regularly washing and maintenance are key to keeping pet hair at bay.

What is the best way to wash a down comforter?

The best way to wash a down comforter is ultimately the most gentle option for the fabric and is dependent on the type of washing machine you own. Since comforters are oversized, only larger, front-loading machines will be able to proactively clean your comforter without damaging the material. Wash your comforter in cold water using gentle detergents without additives.

What is the difference between a down and a down-alternative comforter?

Comforters are available in a variety of materials and offer a comfortable bedding option for any household. When it comes to a down and a down-alternative comforter, there are key differences to keep in mind if you’re looking to purchase one of your own.

A down comforter uses down filling and is often on the lighter side than a down-alternative. Its naturally high fill power means that it will keep you warm without needing an excessive amount of filling to do so. It’s known as one of the more breathable options and is best cleaned through professional dry cleaning services.

A down-alternative comforter is made with either synthetic materials or natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or wool. It uses more filling than down to produce the same amount of warmth; however, it may be the more cost-effective option.

Comforter vs. Duvet

While both keep us warm at night and come in a variety of colours and patterns to match any bedroom aesthetic, there are important differences to be mindful of when deciding between a comforter and a duvet.

A comforter is a singular piece of bedding that does not require homeowners to remove and clean an insert. Comforters are ready to use as soon as they’re taken out of their packaging and provide a layered look to any bedroom. Comforters are available in a range of sealed fillings, including cotton, silk, wool, synthetic materials, and of course, down.

A duvet is a piece of bedding that comes in two parts — a cover and an insert. The inserts are designed to fit inside the cover just like a pillowcase and can be removed and cleaned when needed. Duvets, like comforters, are available in a variety of sizes, but unlike comforters, they can be more challenging to set up and do not come pre-assembled. 

What’s the best way to clean a down comforter?

When it comes to incurring the longevity of your bedding, it’s important to understand what’s the best way to clean a down comforter.

First, it’s important to be mindful of washing your comforter too frequently, as that can lead to material fraying and discoloration.

Next, the type of washing machine you have in your home could impact the decision to wash on your own or take your bedding to a dry cleaner. Large, front-loading washers and dryers will have the space you need to effectively clean your down comforter without the same risks of damage as smaller, older machines.

If washing at home isn’t feasible, the best way to wash your down comforter is by taking it to a professional dry cleaning service and letting their staff take care of it with their commercial-size machines and expert treatments.

What is the best way to store a down comforter?

In many cases, your down comforter won’t be on your bed throughout the year since it retains heat and could be uncomfortable to use during warmer months. If that’s the case, it’s important to know how to effectively store your comforter so that it is ready to use when temperatures begin to drop.

First, ensure your comforter is clean and dry before packing it away so that it doesn’t attract mold. Next, you want to ensure that your bedding is stored in a space where it can breathe, ideally folded and placed in a closet to help prevent mold and unpleasant smells.

If you don’t have the closet space to store oversized bedding, a storage bag is the next best solution. Storage bags can be purchased in a variety of sizes and help prevent mold, dirt, and any liquids from compromising the comforter. For down comforters, look for cotton bags that promote breathability.


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Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!