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Care Guide: How to Wash Luxury Your Down Comforter and Down Pillows

  • by Mary Babinski
  • 6 min read

Many luxurious down pillows and comforters can be safely and effectively machine washed. This article offers some guidelines for washing and caring for your down bedding.

Down Bedding: An Essential Element of Your Luxurious Bed

Here at Fine Linen and Bath, we love helping our clients build their ideal luxury beds, layer upon beautiful layer. And that usually means topping the bed with deep stacks of plush down pillows and a lofty down comforter to make it the perfect retreat after a long day. High-quality down bedding accessories are a beautiful investment in both the look and comfort of your bed. Fine Linen and Bath carries down bedding from legendary brands like Downright, Matouk, Peacock Alley, Scandia Home, and SFERRA (read a comparison of SFERRA Down and Alternative Duvets and a comparison of Scandia Home Down and Alternative Fill Pillows).

These down bedding accessories are made to last for years to come. However, they do require a bit extra care to maintain their superior looks and performance. Fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the dry cleaner. While some luxury down manufacturers such as Scandia Home will recommend professional dry cleaning, many down pillows and down duvets can actually be laundered in a washing machine. Read on to learn how to clean and care for your washable down accessories.

Can You Wash Your Down Bedding?

Can You Wash Your Down Bedding and How Often?

The very first thing you should do is read your product’s care label. If the manufacturer says “Dry Clean Only” or “Professionally Launder,” you should absolutely follow that advice. In some cases, following specific care guidelines are a requirement of the warranty on your down pillows or duvets. 

How often to wash your down pillows, duvets, and bedding is really a matter of preference. Washing not only cleans your items but also helps control the build-up of allergens such as dust mites. We suggest washing your down pillows and comforters somewhere between two and four times a year (see below for tips on how to refresh your down between washes). An easy way to remember it’s time to wash your down bedding is to do it when you move the clocks ahead in the Spring and back in the Fall; this time interval also roughly coincides with when you’d be switching out your bed linen for the next season.

Seven Steps for Washing Your Down Pillows and Down Comforters

Washing your down pillows and comforters requires a bit of a time commitment. Follow these easy guidelines for the best outcome.

1. Plan your trip to the laundromat

Even if you’ve got a high-capacity front-loading washing machine, your down comforter is going to be very heavy when it gets wet (particularly if you have a large, high fill power comforter). A commercial washer is the reliable choice for being able to spin the excess water out of wet down. And while we don’t recommend taxing the capacity of your home machine with a duvet, you may be able to use a larger front-loader to wash your down pillows at home, likely one at a time. We prefer to make a morning or an afternoon of it, washing our pillows, comforter, and even mattress pad simultaneously since we’re going to the laundromat anyway.

2. Make sure to use the right detergent for Down pillows and comforters

All high-quality bed sheets should be washed with a pH-neutral, gentle laundry detergent that is made without harsh chemicals. For these, we recommend using an all-purpose detergent, with stain-removing laundry enzymes and a plant-based gentle formula made to preserve fine fabric. An all-purpose detergent is ideal for washing cotton, linen, bamboo, Tencel, synthetics, and blended bed linen. 

Down and feathers, however, are protein-based (they come from ducks and geese) and therefore should be washed with a detergent made to care for these natural fibers. For down pillows and comforters, we recommend Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent, which is an enzyme-free formula that will clean without causing damage to your Down. It is a concentrated formula that is easy to use; low in suds for effective rinsing; and available in Fragrance Free / Hypoallergenic, Lavender Mist, and new Spring Magnolia scents. All Heritage Park laundry detergents are made in small batches and are also cruelty free with no animal testing. Note: If you have alternative fill pillows or comforters, you can use the All-Purpose Detergent without worry, as these items have a synthetic fill. 

3. Spot treat any stains before you wash your Down 

While Heritage Park All-Purpose Detergent is not appropriate for regular laundering of down items, it can be used to spot treat stains on the pillow or comforter fabric. Dilute a small amount of detergent and blot out the stain. You can also make a stain-removal spray with a 1:1 mix of all-purpose detergent and water and spray the stain. If the stain doesn’t come out immediately, you can allow the item to sit for up to an hour before washing. There is no need to “pre-soak” your pillow or quilt; just treat the surface and let it sit.

4. Wash your Down pillows on a gentle cycle in lukewarm water

Down pillows and comforters should be washed on a gentle cycle (or the most delicate cycle available on a commercial machine) and lukewarm water. Follow the directions and use the proper amount of detergent and – even though you are using low-suds detergent – consider adding an extra rinse cycle. Never use bleach or fabric softener.

5. Dry your Down pillows and comforter in a large-capacity dryer

You may notice a unique smell when you remove your down pillows and comforter from the wash. Not to worry; this is simply wet down, and it will dissipate when they are finished drying. Your pillows and comforter will feel very heavy. Give them a gentle shake to redistribute the down and put them in the dryer on low heat.

6. Have patience (and a set of wool dryer balls)

Drying your down comforter may take several hours, However, you should resist the temptation to dry it on high heat, which can damage both the down and the fabric. We recommend stopping to fluff your pillows or comforter every half hour or so, and using a set of wool dryer balls to speed the process along and keep the weight of your down bedding evenly distributed. 

7. Hang to finish your Down pillows and duvet if necessary

The overarching principle is to dry your down pillows and duvet on a low temperature and slowly. If you’ve been drying for a long time and these items are still slightly damp, it is okay to finish air drying them on a clothesline or hung inside the house.

How to Care for Your Down Items Between Washes

Washing down pillows and comforters is definitely a bit of a time commitment. With that in mind, there are several ways to keep your down pillows and duvet insert fresh between washings:

  • Always keep your comforter inside a duvet cover when it is on your bed.
  • Give your bedding sunlight and fresh air. Hang your duvet and pillows on a clothesline (best, because it allows air flow) or place them in a dry area outside on clean tarps or sheets. You can leave them in the sun for several hours, fluffing them and turning occasionally (note: only do this with white or ivory comforters that will not fade). This will refresh your bedding and help dry out moisture that is so attractive to microscopic allergens like dust mites.

We hope you find these care instructions for washing down pillows and duvets helpful. If you have any questions about caring for your down bedding, or any home linen, feel free to contact us. Our design team is here to help.

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