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How often should you wash your comforter?

Bed with unmade blue bedding on white wall

There’s nothing better than crawling into bed at night with fresh clean sheets and pillowcases. But what if you were sharing your bed with thousands of dust mites and microscopic bacteria? Well, you potentially could be if you’re not regularly washing your comforter. Clean sheets, pillowcases, and throws are all well and good, but if your comforter is being neglected in your cleaning routine, you could just be dirtying the rest of your bedding. But just how often should you be washing your comforter? Keep reading to find out how frequently you should be washing your comforter and other bedding for a better, and cleaner night’s sleep. 

Why you need to wash your comforter

Our bed is the place we lay our heads every night to unwind and relax, and this should be a clean environment. Sleeping in a dirty bed mentally blocks you from completely relaxing. In fact, a study from the National Sleep Foundation “found that people who wash their bedding and sheets regularly reported a 19% better rest at night than those who neglected the hygiene of their bedding”[2]. So it’s not just a few clean freaks who can’t relax in a dirty room. Regularly washing your comforter not only promotes better sleep but promotes better health as well. The soft fibers of bedding like comforters act as a hotbed for dust mites, creating nests in your bed right there with you. Sharing your bed with microscopic bugs doesn’t only sound bad, “chronic, ongoing exposure to dust mites at home can dramatically impact the health of people with asthma and those who are allergic or sensitive to mites”[1]. Because we also sweat and naturally excrete oils from our skin while we sleep (and maybe drool too), our comforters absorb all of this. Comforters that are not washed often can cultivate bacteria, and cause skin issues like eczema and acne.  If you have a dust sensitivity or asthma, or just want to sleep in solitude without a dust mite and bacteria sleepover, it’s important to wash your comforter in hot water regularly.  

White unmade bed with white pillows and sheets

How often should you wash your comforter?

To rid your comforter of bacteria build-up and dust mites to prevent allergy attacks and skin issues, it’s important to wash your comforter and the rest of your bedding often. But just how often should this be done? Because your sheets and pillowcases come in direct contact with your skin, you should treat the laundering of these items like you would clothing. Sheets and pillowcases should be washed at least once a week. 

Your comforter however makes less immediate contact with your skin (that is if you use a cover) and therefore you can stretch the time between washes a little further. Another factor is whether or not there is a cover or slip on your comforter. If your comforter has a slip or cover, you should launder this every week with your sheets and pillowcases. If your comforter has a slip, you will only need to wash the actual comforter once or twice a year[3]. However, if your comforter does not have a slip or cover it should be laundered every week. If your comforter has no protecting slip, it comes in direct contact with your skin and can become just as soiled as sheets or pillowcases. 

Caramel Pumpkin Duvet Cover King Solid Brown Bedding Set Breathable Jersey Duvet Covers Simple Rust Bed Collection Easy Care Solid Color Adults Bedding Zipper Closure

What is the difference between a duvet and a comforter?

A comforter typically is a blanket filled with synthetic fluff or down feathers. A comforter usually has no slip or cover and is often quilted to evenly distribute its filling. A duvet on the other hand comes as a two-piece set. The duvet is a blanket insert filled with synthetic fluff or down feathers, it is not quilted, and it is plain in appearance. A duvet cover is used to cover the insert duvet blanket. The duvet cover is decorative and the duvet is plain, whereas a comforter is typically decorative as well, and does not require a cover. 

A duvet cover should be washed often, ideally once a week. The duvet itself can be washed once or twice a year. A comforter should be washed once a week. If the comforter has a slip, the slip should be washed once a week, and the comforter can be washed once or twice a year. 

How you should wash your comforter

Synthetic comforter: 

  1. The first thing you will need to do is determine if your comforter is synthetic or down. Check your comforters manufacture tag for information on the filling, and cleaning instructions. If your comforter is synthetic, the washing instructions are similar to regular laundry
  2. If your comforter has a slip or cover, remove it, and put both the cover and comforter in the washing machine.
  3. Use a small amount of laundry detergent to prevent any soapy residue which can damage the filling. Run a gentle or delicate cycle with hot water. Hot water is necessary for killing any bacteria or dust mites. Select an extra rinse to remove any soapy residue. 
  4. If your comforter is very wet after the wash cycle, you can run another spin cycle to remove any excess water. This can make the drying process easier on your dryer. Once any excess water is removed, dry your comforter in your dryer on a low heat cycle. The low heat cycle will prevent the filling from being damaged. This may take a few hours, but it is imperative to have a completely dry comforter to prevent any mold or mildew. Shake out the comforter every 30 minutes or so to evenly redistribute the filling and then continue drying until completely free of moisture. 

Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner for Jackets and Sleeping Bags, 10 fl oz wash

Down comforter:

  1. The washing instructions for a down comforter are similar. Check the tags for any special washing instructions before proceeding. 
  2. If your comforter has a slip or cover, remove it, and put both the cover and down comforter in the washing machine. 
  3. Down feathers are very delicate and require a down-safe detergent. Use the recommended amount of down-safe detergent, and run a gentle or delicate cycle with hot water. Select an extra rinse to remove any soapy residue. 
  4. If your down comforter is still wet after the wash cycle, you can run another spin cycle to remove any excess water. This can make the drying process easier on your dryer, as wet down can be extremely heavy.  Once any excess water is removed, dry your comforter in your dryer on a low heat cycle. The low heat cycle will prevent the down feathers from being damaged. This may take a few hours, but it is imperative to have a completely dry comforter to prevent any mold or mildew. Shake out the comforter every 30 minutes or so to evenly redistribute the down filling and then continue drying until completely free of moisture. 

How often should you wash your other bed linens?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to wash or swap out all of your bed linens once a week. This includes pillowcases, sheets, top sheets, duvet or comforter covers, or comforters without covers. You may prefer to wash your pillowcases, in particular, more often if you suffer from skin conditions like acne or eczema, as bacteria can build up on your pillowcases due to skin oils, sweat, and saliva, and transfer onto your skin, and exacerbate these issues. Clean bed linens will keep allergy-causing dust and mites at bay, and prevent bacteria from building up and transferring onto you. 

Wooden bedframe with beige bedding on white wall with plants

Regular washing of your comforter will not only make your bed feel and smell fresher, but it can also improve the air quality of your home. Comforters can trap dust and dust mites, which can trigger allergy and asthma attacks in those with dust allergies or asthma sufferers. By washing your comforter often, you can eradicate dust mites completely, and reduce the spread of harmful bacteria that can develop in our bedding due to our body’s sweat and natural oils. Not only will your skin thank you for a nice clean bed, but having a clean place to sleep is scientifically proven to improve your sleep. Make your bed the perfect relaxing escape by washing your comforter often. You will sleep better, and feel better because of it. 

 

Article Sources:

  1. American Lung Association. “Dust and Dust Mites
  2. Land of Sleep. “5 Reasons You Will Rest Better in a Clean Room
  3. The Spruce. “How Often to Wash Bedding