How To Wash A Down Comforter: Tips To Wash And Dry Duvet In Machine

Can You Wash A Down Comforter In The Machine? Here’s What To Know

May 19, 2021 Updated August 17, 2021

How To Wash A Down Comforter
fizkes/Getty

Whether you’re spring cleaning or gearing up for the holidays, getting your house in order, cleaning out the closet, and taking on easy DIY home projects can be cathartic. As the adage goes: Out with the old, in with the new. Or at least, new-ish. And it’s not all that hard to do. Freshening up towels, bedding, and removing stains from a mattress are all small steps to getting that hotel getaway feeling right in your own home. But if you’re like the rest of us, just the thought of washing a down comforter or duvet is enough to elicit a groan. Down comforters are expensive and full of feathers, after all — but it’s actually a straightforward task.

Though a luxurious home decor piece, down comforters and duvets have pretty run-of-the-mill instructions for how to take care of them. In fact, they should be one of the easiest-to-launder items in your house, and when you’re a busy parent with a million other things going on, this is an excellent tidbit to hear. Ahead are all the tips and tricks to wash and dry a down comforter without any hassle.

How to Wash a Down Comforter

In what is perhaps the best news ever: You can wash a down comforter in a washing machine. The only caveat is that you have to have a washing machine large enough to fit the down comforter fully. Because these comforters are so large, they require a large machine. If you don’t have one, you can take the comforter to a laundromat with an industrial-sized machine or a dry cleaner. However, if you take your comforter or duvet to a dry cleaner, make sure you’re not actually having it dry cleaned. You only want it laundered in a machine, not using harsh dry-cleaning chemicals.

If you’re using your washing machine, set it on a gentle cycle and use a gentle detergent. Run the cycle as normal with (obviously) nothing else in the machine. You can also hand-wash the comforter, though it will be a bit of an undertaking. You can wash it in the bathtub with warm water and detergent.

However, if you’re nervous about putting your down comforter in the washing machine, you can always wash it by hand. Using a large basin, warm water, and detergent, dunk your comforter into the solution. Avoid wringing it out so you don’t damage it. Use your hand to dip the comforter in and out of the water and mix it around. When you’re done, rinse it out with clean water and let it air dry.

How to Dry a Down Comforter

A down comforter can either be air-dried or dried in the dryer. If you opt for the dryer, throw the down comforter in with dryer balls or tennis balls. These will bounce around the machine and keep the down from clumping inside the cover.

It will take some time to dry the comforter, so be patient with it. If you don’t have tennis balls, stop the dryer periodically and take the comforter out to shake it out a bit.

If you don’t have a dryer at home, you want to be careful with how you dry this large and bulky item. Because the down can clump and move around easily, you don’t want to hang it on a clothesline. That runs the risk of the down falling towards the lowest corners. If you have a laundry rack (or a few), you can drape it over those so it’s more flat than hanging. This will keep the down evenly distributed. Baffle-box comforters are the easiest to handle in this regard, as they’re made with down pockets, so the down can’t move as far. If this is the style comforter you have, then you’re in good shape.

More Tips for Cleaning a Down Comforter

So what else do you need to know about cleaning a down comforter?

  • You can use non-chlorine bleach if you need to. Use as directed either on the whole comforter or to spot treat.
  • We don’t recommend fabric softeners. It doesn’t behave well with these materials.
  • You can use dryer sheets as long as they’re not made to be fabric softeners. These will leave your down comforter smelling fresh at the end of the dry cycle.
  • If you put your comforter in the washing machine, make sure the cycle is set to cold. Hot water causes shrinkage.
  • Use the fastest spin cycle to get as much of the water out as you can. 
  • Hang your comforter out in the sun to dry instead of putting it in the dryer. 
  • Avoid washing your down comforter each month. According to Linen Alley, a fine linens company, you don’t have to wash it often because the comforter rarely touches your skin, so it doesn’t get as dirty as your other sheets. Continuous spot cleaning is fine, but it’s OK to wash it once or twice a year.  

Ideally, to avoid having too many cleaning mishaps with a down comforter, you should put it inside a duvet cover. This way, if you have any dirt or stains happening in bed, it’ll be caught by the duvet cover, which is super simple to throw in the washer and dryer. Even if you have a duvet cover, though, you’ll still want to wash a down comforter every few months to keep it fresh.

How often should you replace a down comforter?

Down comforters are soft and durable, and they may seem like they can last forever, but they do have a life span. Most last for about 10 to 15 years and even a little over 20 if you take care of it. A few things that may shorten its lifespan include how often it’s laid upon or how still of sleeper you are. More wild or restless sleepers are likely to wear their comforter down than sound sleepers. You should also avoid washing it too frequently or with harsh detergents.