How to Wash a Comforter: Get Your Comforter Fresh, Clean, and Fluffy

Person taking comforter out of washing machine

Unlike your bedsheets and pillowcases, which should be washed every week or two, your comforter doesn’t require frequent cleanings. Cleaning your comforter every quarter, or four times a year, should be enough to prevent dirt and skin cells from building up. Not only does a clean comforter feel and smell great, but regular cleaning also prolongs the life of the fibers and fabric.

Before you start cleaning, figure out whether your comforter is stuffed with feathers or synthetic material. Once you’ve determined that, look for a tag to guide your cleaning practices and detergents. Since down feathers are delicate, it’s best to use a down-safe detergent. For synthetic filling, use your favorite laundry detergent.

If you don’t have a front-loading washing machine, or if you have a small washer, using a laundromat instead will save you a lot of time. It may even prevent damage to your washer and dryer. Not only will you get a better clean (thanks to a larger capacity), but you’ll also be able to dry your comforter more quickly in a large, commercial-grade dryer. Here is how to wash a comforter.

Equipment and Materials You’ll Need to Wash a Comforter

Comforters are big and bulky and often hard to manage when it’s time to wash them. They are also prone to stains and dirt because they are used daily. Before cleaning your comforter, recognize that the materials and equipment required may vary based on the specific comforter’s care instructions. Check the label for specific requirements or recommendations before beginning the washing process.

Here is a list of what you'll need to wash your comforter:

  • Washing machine
  • Stain remover
  • Gentle detergent
  • Tennis balls or dryer balls

How to Pretreat Stains on a Comforter

If you have spills or stains on your comforter and are unsure they will come out in the wash, pretreat them with stain remover.

  1. Read instructions: Always check the care instruction label on your comforter for any specific instructions or warnings.
  2. Test: Before spraying your comforter with stain remover, test a small area to ensure it doesn’t become discolored.
  3. Apply the stain remover: Apply the stain remover directly to the stained area and blot it. Don’t scrub vigorously, or you could damage the fabric.
  4. Let it sit: Allow the stain remover to sit on your comforter per the product's instructions.
  5. Rinse or blot: After the recommended time, rinse the stained area with cool water or use a clean cloth dampened with water to blot away the stain remover.
  6. Wash: Once you've pretreated the stains, wash the comforter.

How to Wash a Down Comforter

A down comforter is bedding filled with down feathers, the soft and fluffy feathers underneath the outer feathers of ducks or geese. These feathers provide warmth and coziness for your down comforter, making for a comfortable sleep.

The quality of a down comforter depends on the type of down, the fill power, and how it is made. The outer layer of a down comforter is made of materials such as cotton, silk, or synthetic blends.

It’s important to know how to clean your down comforter to maintain the longevity of your favorite sleeping companion.

  1. Washing machine: You'll need access to a washing machine that is large enough to accommodate a comforter. Laundromats usually offer large-capacity washing machines if your washing machine isn’t big enough to hold your comforter.
  2. Care label: Check the care instructions on the comforter for important information regarding the recommended washing method and temperature.
  3. Stain remover: Pretreat stains with stain remover before washing a comforter.
  4. Mild detergent: Choose a gentle detergent that is good on delicate fabrics.
  5. Gentle cycle: Set your washing machine to a soft or delicate cycle with cold or lukewarm water.
  6. Wash and rinse: Run an extra cycle to remove all the detergent from the comforter.
  7. Dryer or drying rack: If you put the wet comforter in a dryer, dry it on low heat to prevent damage. If air-drying, make space for the comforter to lay flat or hang without touching the floor.
  8. Tennis balls or dryer balls: As with pillows, comforters are best dried with tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff the comforter and prevent filling and or clumping.
  9. Fluff and reshape: When the comforter is dry, shake it out to remove clumps.

How to Wash a Down-Alternative Comforter

Some people have allergies or sensitivity to down feathers. A synthetic or hypoallergenic down comforter is the best option for warmth without allergic reactions.

  1. Load the comforter into the largest front-loading washing machine you can find.
  2. Use only a small amount of detergent. Any excess will leave a residue on the filling.
  3. Wash the comforter on the delicate or gentle cycle. Be sure to select an extra rinse.
  4. Once the wash and extra rinse cycle are complete, load the wet comforter into the largest dryer you can find. Be careful – a wet comforter is heavy! If you notice it’s still sopping wet, throw it back in the washer for another spin cycle. Removing as much water as possible will significantly reduce dryer time.
  5. Dry the comforter, along with four to five tennis balls, on a low heat setting. This may take a few hours. Even if the comforter seems dry, it’s imperative that it be completely dry to prevent mold. It’s always safer to over-dry than to under-dry. We also recommend removing the comforter every 30 minutes to redistribute the feathers and break up any clumps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wash my white down comforter with bleach?

No. Bleach is harsh and damages delicate down feathers, causing them to lose their insulation and cause discoloration of the fabric. Therefore, do not use bleach in your wash cycle with the down comforter.

How do you clean down or feather pillows?

To clean down or feather pillows, use a large-capacity washing machine with a small amount of mild detergent and set the machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. You will want to make sure to dry the pillow all the way to maintain fluffiness. Put the pillow in a dryer with tennis balls and set the heat to low or air dry.

Tip: To keep your down pillow clean for longer, use a pillow case or cover to protect it from dirt, oils, and stains.

How do you smooth out a lumpy comforter?

Vigorously shake the comforter to redistribute the filling. Gently press and massage the lumpy areas with your hands or fingers to help break them up and distribute the filling more evenly. Tumble-dry with a dryer and tennis balls that will bounce around and help break up the lumps as the comforter tumbles.

Living Comfortably in a Clean House

Now that your comforter is clean, why not give your pillows the same attention? Then head on over to our bedroom cleaning tips page to learn more ways to give your bedroom a thorough cleaning.

Not enough time to do bedroom cleaning? Molly Maid can help! Our Neighborly Done Right Promise™ ensures all of our housecleaning solutions are done to the highest standard. Ask about our free estimates.

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