Down Comforters – Complete Care Guide

Can you wash your down comforter in a washing machine at home? This is a common question. There are a couple issues when deciding how to wash a down comforter. First, will the cleaning method damage the down in some way, making it less effective? Second, will the cleaning make the cover less down proof.

Washing Down

The performance of the down inside a down comforter is actually enhanced by exposing it to water and heat. Periodic rinsing and drying makes it puff back up to its original fill power. So washing your down comforter actually revitalizes the down, bringing it back to its original fluffiness and insulation performance level.

However, strong detergents remove the oils inside down fibers cluster, making them dryer, weaker, less puffy, less breathable, and less capable of retaining warmth. As long as you wash infrequently with a mild detergent, the down and feathers inside your comforter will be fine. No problem.

Washing Fabric Covers

The covers that are used in down bedding are usually 100% cotton. Washing in a machine at home, or dry cleaning with a professional launderer, will not hurt the cotton, but it may make the fabric less down proof. Some down cover materials stay downproof after washing, and some do not. So check your comforter’s care instructions to see what is recommended for you comforter.

If you mistakenly wash a comforter that is recommended for dry cleaning, all is not lost. Usually the material loses its downproofing ability incrementally after several washings.

The difference between fabrics that remain downproof after washing, and those that do not, is the weave. The best fabrics used in down bedding have a superior weave that is meant to last for a long time through many washings.

Washing and Drying

As already mentioned, if your down bedding is recommended for washing in a washing machine, you can do it at home if your machine is large enough. You need a large, front load washer; do not use a machine that has an agitator in the center because it will put unnecessary stress on your comforter during washing. If you need a larger machine, you can go to a Laundromat or a professional cleaner. Be sure to use mild detergent. The best cleaners are those especially made for washing down and feather products.

Drying large down bedding items takes a long time – usually 2-4 hours. Be sure to dry them completely to prevent mold / mildew growth. A good method is to dry in the dryer for 1 full cycle, then lay out in the hot sun for several hours, and finish drying with another 30 minutes to 1 hour in the dryer. This method gives the bedding a nice fresh smell.

Use a Duvet Cover

It’s best to use a duvet cover over your down comforter, and wash it regularly. This will keep the down from collecting dust and body oils that are difficult to remove. Using a duvet cover, you may only need to wash your comforter every 2-3 years.

Sun Curing

Most of the down comforters in the world come from China and the accepted method of cleaning is to use a duvet cover and simply put the down comforter out in the sun for a few hours, every few months. This allows all the moisture in the down to completely evaporate and gives the comforter a nice fresh smell. It also prevents the growth of moisture and dust mites, which love warm, moist places to grow.


If you have a heavy down comforter, you may want to put it away in a closet during the summer months. Be sure to use a breathable storage bag like cotton or mesh to prevent moisture from being trapped inside the comforter. Fight the urge to wrap it in plastic to keep dust and critters out. Though it would help do that, it may also allow the growth of some unpleasant, too-small-to-be-seen things inside your comforter.

Don’t store in an attic where a mouse or raccoon can get to it. Don’t store in a crawl space which can drip with moisture on a rainy day. Find a cool dry place that’s secure from critters that like to chew and nest.


Down comforters are one of the most luxurious bedding items that you can own. They are soft, cuddly, and fun to sleep with. The most important thing about owning one is to enjoy it. Because we are so fond of our nice things, it’s easy to get a little strict about keeping a comforter clean. But remember, all things pass away. So if you make a mistake with your comforter, let it be on the side of enjoying it too much.