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How to Wash and Dry a Down Comforter

Don’t get down about washing your down comforter. It’s easy!

Down comforters are durable, super warm, and they help maintain your body temperature. They’re made from the fluffy feathers found underneath the exterior feathers of a bird’s belly. Because they’re soft and light, when you’re wrapped up in a down comforter, it feels luxurious and cloud-like.

But when it comes to washing — how exactly does one do it? Well, we’re here to tell you! Plus, we’ll teach you how to dry a down comforter so you can have it wrapped around you again in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Wash down comforters in a large front-loading machine with gentle detergent and warm water; avoid top-loading machines and fabric softeners.
  • Dry down comforters in a high-capacity dryer on low heat with tennis balls inside socks to help maintain fluffiness.
  • Fluff and redistribute the comforter every 30 minutes during the drying process until it’s 100% dry.
  • Regularly shake your down comforter and use a comforter cover to keep it fresh; wash it once a year if no cover is used, or every two to three years if a cover is used.

Why Did My Down Comforter Turn Yellow?

It’s normal for bed sheets and comforters to yellow over time. That’s why we recommend replacing them every few years. Down is naturally absorbent so it takes in oils easily. This includes body oils (such as sweat), saliva, skin care products and lotions. As these liquids dry they can create a yellowed spot.

Regular cleaning can help to keep the comforter fresh, as well as using a comforter cover.

Is It Better to Wash or Dry Clean a Down Comforter?

We don’t recommend taking a down comforter to the dry cleaner’s because they use harsh chemicals to clean fabrics.

Before washing a down comforter, always check the care label first. If it says it’s okay to machine wash, you can do this at home or at a laundromat with a commercial-sized machine.

However, if it says not to machine wash, we recommend taking it to a specialised company. These companies typically use specific cleaning methods that shouldn’t involve harsh chemicals, heat or high pressure. If in doubt, double check with the company first about their methods.

How Often Should You Wash a Down Comforter?

Good news! Not that often. If you don’t use a comforter cover, we recommend you wash it every year. If you do use a comforter cover, every two to three years is fine.

Can You Wash a Down Comforter That Says Dry Clean Only?

Yes. Because the comforter is made from natural materials, it doesn’t really need to be dry cleaned (1).

You can use a home dry cleaning kit, or take it to a professional who will clean it without dry-cleaning methods. Many manufacturers label items “dry clean only” so they can’t be blamed if things go wrong when you wash it at home.

How to Wash a Down Comforter in the Washing Machine

Before You Start, Check Out These Things

  • Look at the care label. Check to make sure the comforter is suitable for the washing machine.
  • Look for loose feathers. If you find any, it might mean the fabric has torn. Repair this before washing the comforter.
  • Spot treat any stains beforehand.
  • Look for anything else that might mean it’s time to replace the comforter. For example, if you find mold and mildew, it’s time to replace your comforter.
  • You should look for spots, stains, mold, mildew and tears every month or so. That way, you can keep on top of yucky stains and yellowing.
  1. Use a large front-loading machine. You need a spacious machine for the comforter to move around. A top-loading machine has a center agitator which can rip the fabric.
  2. Cut off any loose threads to avoid snagging in the machine.
  3. Place the comforter in the machine as spread out as possible. Don’t put it in crumpled, and don’t overstuff the machine with other items.
  4. Put two tennis balls inside two socks. Place them in there with the comforter. This helps remove dirt, as well as preventing the comforter from bunching up.
  5. Add a little bit of gentle detergent to the dispenser. Less than the recommended amount is better to ensure it all washes away and doesn’t leave a residue.
  6. Set the machine to a warm gentle cycle. Hot and cold water can damage the comforter.
  7. If possible, add on an extra rinse. Then begin the washing machine cycle.
  8. When the cycle is finished, ensure that all soap residue is gone. If it’s not, repeat the washing cycle without extra detergent.


Do not add fabric softener. It leaves a residue on the comforter and weighs down the fluff. Also, fabric softener can reduce a fabric’s absorbent properties. You don’t want that to happen to your down comforter.

Can I Wash My Down Comforter in a Top Load Washer?

You shouldn’t because the center agitator can rip the fabric.

Can You Put a Goose Down Comforter in the Washing Machine?

Yes, but you need to ensure it’s thoroughly rinsed and dried quickly before using it again, otherwise it can lead to mold and mildew. Also, we recommend a natural detergent for goose down.

How Do You Wash a Comforter That Won’t Fit in the Washing Machine?

Take it to a laundromat or service where they have large-capacity washing machines. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to fit your queen or king size down comforter in your home washing machine.

How to Dry a Comforter

Most down comforters can be machined dried, but always check the care label.

Air Drying a Down Comforter

  1. Carefully remove the down comforter from the washing machine.
  2. Lay the comforter flat instead of hanging on the line. This prevents it from stretching. Also, when it’s on the line, it will develop “damp spots” which can lead to mold and mildew.
  3. Put it in a clean, sunny area and give it time. However, if it’s warmer than 95°F, the heat can cause the down comforter to lose its elasticity (2).
  4. Once the comforter is dry, shake it out to redistribute the down feathers and ensure there are no wet spots.

You may air dry the comforter for a while, then finish it off by putting it in the dryer to ensure it’s 100 percent dry before putting it back on your bed. However, for full tumble drying instructions, check out the next section.

Tumble Drying a Down Comforter

  1. Carefully remove the comforter from the washing machine.
  2. Put the comforter in a high-capacity dryer. Like in the washing machine, the comforter needs space to move around.
  3. Add your socks with tennis balls to help with fluffing up the comforter.
  4. Set the machine to the lowest heat setting. This will take longer but will prevent shrinkage.
  5. Check on the comforter every 30 minutes. Pause the cycle and remove the comforter. Gently fluff the comforter and re-distribute it evenly in the machine.
  6. After a few hours, check if the comforter is completely dry. If it’s nearly there, you can put it back in the machine or lay it flat outside for the last few hours.
  7. Ensure it’s 100 percent dry before putting it back on your bed.

How Long Does It Take to Dry a Down Comforter?

On a low heat setting, it can take at least four hours — but prepare for it to take up to 12, especially if you air dry it. It’s a good idea to start the wash and drying process early in the morning so the comforter is dry by bedtime. Or have alternate sleeping arrangements for that night.

Can I Air Dry My Down Comforter?

Yes, but expect it to take longer. Since most down comforters can be tumble dried, we recommend it as it will save you time.

Why Did My Comforter Get Hard in the Dryer?

Comforters can feel stiff after being dried because there are still pockets of moisture. It’s necessary that you take it out and fluff it up every half an hour. It’s also essential to add the tennis balls to encourage fluffiness during the cycle.

Also, ensure you use a low heat.

How Do You Make a Down Comforter Fluffy Again?

If you follow all our tips, your comforter should be fluffy again once it’s fully dry. Between washes, make sure to shake your comforter every morning before you make the bed. This will encourage fluffiness again!

If this doesn’t work, fluff up the clumps of down feathers by hand. Find places where they’ve clumped up and gently massage them back into place.

How to Care for Your Down Comforter

Let’s recap some tips for caring for your down comforter so it stays in great condition for a long time.

  • Shake the down comforter daily to encourage fluffiness and to air out moisture.
  • If you use a comforter cover — which we recommend — wash it at least monthly.
  • Spot treat stains every time they appear, or at least once a year.
  • Always make sure the comforter is fully dry before using it again to avoid mold and mildew.
  • Always wash your comforter in warm water. Hot and cold water can cause damage.
  • Don’t worry if the comforter is flat, smelly and not fluffy when you take it from the washing machine. The drying routine will fluff it up again, as well as remove any odors. Down can smell bad when it’s wet, so sniff test it to see if it’s fully dry.
  • Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets.
  • Line drying can increase chances of clumping, wet spots and mold.
  • Don’t ever steam or iron your down comforter.
  • Don’t wash your down comforter in a top-loading machine.


Can You Refill a Comforter?

You can refill a comforter by unpicking the seam at one end and putting in new padding. When you have the desired plumpness, stitch the seam back up.

Can Mites Live In a Down Comforter?

Mites can live in a down comforter if there is food for them to feed on. Skin cells attract bed mites, while dust dust mites are attracted to dirt and debris.

How Long Does a Goose Down Comforter Last?

A goose down comforter should last at least five years. If you treat it well, wash it every six months, and store it correctly when not in use, youy may extend that life further.

What Can I Do With Old Down Comforters?

Old down comforters can be repurposed for cleaning rags, pet bedding, and making new costumes. It can also make a safe and fun cushioned material for your kid’s playroom.

Get Down to Business

Now that you know the top tips for washing a down comforter, it’s time to get down to it! With these tips, you’ll easily clean and dry your lush down comforter. Once it’s back on the bed, it’ll feel more luxurious than ever.

Remember to do this once a year if you don’t use a comforter cover. If you use a comforter cover, you can go up to three years between washes. But if you have the time, it’s totally okay to do this yearly anyway!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!