Can you wash a comforter? Of course you can, and you should! But washing a comforter isn’t as easy as throwing your sheets and pillowcases in the machine. Pillows, mattresses, and comforters don’t get as dirty as other bedding, but they can harbor dust mites and other allergens that can affect sleep.
Lucky for you, learning how to wash a comforter, bed pillows, and even your mattress is simple. Read on to learn how to clean a comforter to get rid of dirt, stains, dust mites, and other allergens for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Washing a Comforter

If the label says it’s okay to wash your comforter, follow the instructions for water temperature, handwashing, and other recommended cleaning. While a comforter’s care label should provide specific information, here are some guidelines for how to wash a comforter that will apply to most fabrics and fills.

  • Examine your comforter for tears, loose seams, or other damage, and make repairs before you wash it. Washers can be rough on fabrics, so any tears or loose thread could snag and cause even more damage.
  • Spot-treat stains from blood, perspiration, and other soiling before you wash a comforter. Move the fill away from the stained area and treat the stain with a solution of baking soda and water. For stubborn stains, distilled white vinegar is an excellent choice because it breaks down stains while it safely deodorizes and softens fabric.
  • Use a large capacity washer. Comforters and blankets need room to agitate and move around in a washer to get out all the dirt and stains. If your washer isn’t large enough to handle a bulky comforter, front load washers at commercial laundromats are perfect for the job.
  • Start filling your washer with cold or hot water (again, check the label) and put the comforter in the washer. Remember, cold water protects fabrics and colors while hot water kills dust mites. Press down to get the comforter wet all over and position it around the agitator evenly to keep your washer balanced during the wash.
  • If your washer has a bulky cycle, you can use that setting, but washing your comforter on the delicate setting can be effective if it isn’t too dirty and you pre-treat any stains.
  • Use a mild detergent or fragrance-free detergent if you have allergies; make sure you use about half what you would for a load of laundry.
  • If your washer allows, select the extra rinse option to completely remove soap residue from the comforter.
  • Your comforter will be wet and pretty heavy, so take it out of the washer gently to prevent catching it on something.

Bedding comes in so many styles and materials, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for washing a comforter. Materials like wool and silk will often need to be dry cleaned because they can shrink or become damaged with regular washing.

How to Dry a Comforter

Knowing how to wash a comforter is only half the story. Comforters’ large size and bulky fill means drying them can take a few extra steps.

  • Use low or no heat settings unless the label says otherwise.
  • Bulky bedding like a comforter needs room to move around for uniform drying. If your dryer isn’t a good fit, take your comforter to a laundromat and use a commercial dryer.
  • To keep the fill from matting and to decrease drying time, add a few tennis balls or fluffer rings to the load.
  • Remove the comforter from the dryer every 30 minutes to fluff and redistribute the fill. This helps the comforter keep its shape and dry more quickly.
  • For more drying power, throw a clean, dry bath towel and some tennis balls in the dryer with your comforter. After 15-20 minutes, remove the towel but not the tennis balls. The towel will absorb much of the moisture in the comforter, making it dry faster.
  • To prevent excess wear and tear and to ensure your comforter is completely dry, pull it out of the dryer after a couple of hours while it’s still damp. Let the comforter finish drying on a rack or line outside if possible.

Make sure your comforter is completely dry before you put it away or use it on your bed. Moisture in your comforter can create a haven for bacteria and mold, especially if it’s stored while damp.

How to Wash a Down Comforter

Many of us love the extra warmth we get with a down comforter, but they can get soiled and full of pollutants like any other comforter. If you have a down comforter, keeping it clean and comfy isn’t hard if you wash and dry it correctly. A good guideline is to wash down-filled comforters about once per year. If you don’t use a top sheet or duvet cover, you may need to wash the comforter more often.

Dry cleaning is always an option, and sometimes a recommendation, so check your down comforter’s label for the specifics. Dry cleaning will minimize shrinkage compared to other cleaning options, but you also end up with harsh chemicals being used on your comforter.

Here’s how to wash a down comforter safely:

  • Just like with other comforters, check for any tears or loose seams and repair them before you wash the comforter. Pre-treat stains carefully to avoid getting too much of your stain remover into the down fill.
  • For best results, use a large capacity front load washer. Remember, bulky bedding needs room to move around for a thorough cleaning. If your washer isn’t built for this, keep reading or turn to the commercial washers at the laundromat, which can handle the job easily.
  • Select the warm water setting and the gentle or delicate cycle, add your detergent, and put your comforter in the washer. If you’re using a top load washer at home, give the washer a few minutes to mix the water and detergent for an even clean.
  • If the washer has an extra rinse option, use it to ensure all the detergent and dirt are rinsed thoroughly.
  • For top load washers, push your down comforter into the washing machine, making sure it’s spread out as evenly as possible and completely submerged.
  • To keep the down from clumping, add three tennis balls to the wash. The tennis balls will add more agitation for removing dirt and help keep the down fill evenly distributed.
  • Wet down is heavier than many fills, so remove it carefully when it’s through washing to prevent damage. A slight musty odor is normal with wet down and will go away once it’s dry.
  • Down comforters should be dried in large capacity dryers if possible. Put your comforter in the dryer with your three tennis balls to help the down dry uniformly. You can also add a dry towel to absorb the excess moisture and remove it when you fluff the comforter.
  • About every half hour, remove the comforter and fluff to keep the down fill spread out so the comforter will dry faster. When you redistribute the down fill, make sure the heat isn’t too hot, or it could scorch the delicate down.

Drying a down comforter can take several hours. If possible, remove it from the dryer while it’s slightly damp and hang the comforter outside to dry naturally. Either way, it’s essential to get the down fill completely dry to prevent odors and mildew.

How Often Should I Wash My Comforter?

You don’t need to wash your comforter nearly as often as sheets, but comforters still get dirty and require a good cleaning once in a while. Start by checking the tag on your comforter for cleaning recommendations. If you use both a flat sheet and a duvet cover, your comforter will stay cleaner longer because it isn’t in direct contact with your body.

Warmth, dead skin cells, and moisture like perspiration are the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. Because your pillows, sheets, and mattress can become soiled and full of allergens, they may require more frequent cleaning. Under normal conditions, washing your comforter every few months is a good guideline. This will keep the comforter clean, free of allergens, and looking newer longer.

Now that you know how to wash a comforter, and how often, what other things in your home could use a good cleaning? Check out our handy cleaning guides and learn how to clean, disinfect, and maintain just about everything in your home.

Whether it’s by using our popular residential cleaning services or doing it yourself with our pro tips, The Maids is dedicated to helping you and your family enjoy a cleaner, healthier home. Find out more when you get your free online estimate.

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