Can You Wash Down Filled Pillows & Comforters? Yes But…

Goose and duck down filled pillows, duvets and comforters are soft and luxurious to sleep on but they do require a bit of care to keep fresh and clean. It’s not advised to wash these items as frequently as you would regular bedding, but there are a few things you can do to clear out dust mites, dead skin and freshen up items that are starting to smell a bit funky.

What You Need To Know:

Down Bedding Is Luxurious To Sleep On But It Does Require Some Care

Down Bedding Is Luxurious To Sleep On But It Does Require Some Care

Check labels first for care instructions, although the down content may be fine washed in water, the fabric case may be dry clean only.

If the case is made of silk for example, washing in water can do damage to the fabric and ruin the item (likely beyond repair). Dry cleaning will be the only option in this situation.

Eyeball your pillow casings, will the fabric hold up in the washing machine? If it looks a bit fragile (common with older pillows), hand wash in the bathtub instead of the machine.

Note: The instructions below may differ from care instructions that are listed on the label, follow the manufacturer’s advice for best results.

Before Getting Started:

  • Check for any weak seams or rips before washing and repair if necessary. I know from experience what a mess can be made if there’s even a small tear in the fabric ;).
  • Fill the empty washing machine with the pillows or comforter to ensure that the appliance is large enough to hold the items without having to pack them in tight. Laundering them in a machine that’s too small can cause damage to the bedding, your best bet is to use the machines at a laundromat since they’re usually much larger than the average household’s (you could also hand-wash in the bathtub).

Washing Instructions: After determining that the fabric casing content is washable, set the machine to the delicate cycle and the temperature set to warm. Use a mild detergent and add to the water as it’s filling the machine…wait a couple minutes before you toss in your bedding (this will help dilute and distribute the soap).

Can bleach be added to the water? It’s not advised since bleach can cause damage to the down’s natural oils.

How often can you wash the bedding? Pillows can be washed twice a year, duvets and comforters every three years or so (really!). Why so infrequently? Washing down too much can break down its natural oils and structure.

Drying: Hang to dry outside on warm days or in the dryer on a medium heat setting. Remove from dryer every 30 minutes, fluff and allow to cool for a few minutes before stuffing back in the dryer (to help prevent scorching). Rearrange large items as you stuff them back in the dryer for a more even drying. It will likely take a few hours for items to fully dry.

Tip: You can throw in a couple thick towels (dry), they’ll help absorb some of the moisture so the bedding dries quicker.

Storing Freshly Laundered Items: Ensure bedding is fully dried before packing away for storage, they’ll get mildew if stored while damp. Wrap in cotton fabrics so the items can still breathe, plastic bags are a no-no.

Freshen Things Up Without Washing: Shake items then hang on the clothesline during hot summer afternoons, the sun will help destroy dust mites. If it’s too chilly outside, a 15 minute tumble in the dryer (medium heat) will also help.

Provide Protection: Cover items with a good quality case (high thread count) before slipping inside pillow cases and duvet covers, they can be washed regularly and can help repel dirt, stains and odors.

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What Readers Are Saying: 3 Comments
  1. Loretta S. says:

    Also – throw in one tennis ball in the dryer with down. It will help keep it fluffy as it dries. HT: Martha Stewart

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