Most down comforters have a tag with care instructions that read, “Dry Clean Only.” But if you’re on a budget, or just avoiding another errand, you can clean your down comforter at home. It’s only possible, though, if you have a large-capacity front-loading washer. In a small machine, the weight of a comforter can damage the appliance, while in a top-loader, the agitator can rip the fabric. Assuming you have a large, front-loading washer, you can clean a down comforter by following these steps!
Load the comforter into the washing machine. Add a mild soap or, even better, a soap specially formulated for down. Avoid using standard laundry detergent because it will strip away the natural oils that are responsible for making the feathers so exceptionally light and wonderfully fluffy.
Set the washer to run with warm water on a delicate cycle. If there’s an extra rinse option, add it. If not, you simply need to run the comforter through a separate rinse cycle manually to remove soap residue from the down.
Immediately transfer the comforter to a high-capacity dryer, set to low heat. Toss in either dryer balls or clean white socks stuffed with tennis balls to prevent the down from clumping.
Check the comforter every now and again as it is drying, especially at the beginning of the cycle. The comforter could overheat which would case the fabric to either melt or get burned. If you notice the comforter sticking to the interior walls of the dryer, stop the machine, remove the bedding, and hand-fluff it before continuing.
Keep the comforter in the dryer until it is bone-dry and has returned to being soft and fluffy. This may take several hours. Resist taking the comforter out of the dryer before it’s completely dry, as this will compromise the bedding’s insulating power and could encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
Want an easier cleaning routine?
Keep the bedding in a duvet cover. This is like a pillowcase for your down comforter and is easy-to-clean as it protects the bedding from stains. Every three or four months, remove the comforter from its duvet and hang it outside with clothespins. Save this for a dry, sunny, and preferably windy day. Leave the duvet hanging until the sun sets. If you care for your comforter in this way, it may only need to be cleaned once every five or ten years.