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How to clean a comforter properly

Can you remember the last time you washed your comforter? If not, it might be time to do so. Luckily it doesn’t require too much elbow grease, and it doesn’t have to be done too often. Keep reading to find out exactly how to get your comforter so clean it’s like new again. You’ll sleep better knowing your comforter is free from bacteria and dust mites. 

Unmade bed with white sheets pillows and comforter

Related: Can You Wash Weighted Blankets?

Why it’s important to keep your comforter clean

We sleep in our beds every single night. It’s where we relax at the end of a long day, and to really relax this should be a clean space. Sleeping in an unsanitary space can mentally block you from fully relaxing. A study from the National Sleep Foundation even “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”[3]. Keeping your comforter clean and fresh promotes better sleep, but also keeps you healthy. The fibers in your bedding and particularly the synthetic stuffing or down of a comforter are a hotbed for dust mites, who are crawling into bed with your every night unbeknownst to you. In fact, “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]. Our comforters also trap the sweat and oils we naturally excrete from our skin as we sleep. Throw in a bit of drool as well and our comforters become a hotbed for bacteria to flourish in. 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.  

Hand pouring detergent into washing machine with blankets folded on top

How to clean your comforter properly

Step 1: Strip your comforter

The first thing you will need to do is strip your comforter of any covers or slips. Your comforter slip or cover should be washed separately to lighten the load on your washing machine and dryer. Your comforter slip or cover may also have different washing instructions. 

Step 2: Always check the tag

If your comforter has no slip or cover, your first step will be to check the manufacturer’s care instructions. If your comforter tag says “Dry Clean Only” take their word for it! Certain delicate materials like silk, or wool can shrink in the washing machine and require specific care. Washing a delicate fabric comforter in the washing machine could damage it. If your comforter is machine washable, you’re in luck and can save on a dry cleaning bill. Down comforters can be machine washed as well, as long as your care tag says so. Depending on the care instructions on your comforter you may be required to use a down-safe detergent or a regular laundry detergent

Step 3: Check for any rips and tears

Before you put your comforter in the washing machine, check for any rips or tears. That way you will avoid any fluffy surprises when you go to move your comforter to the dryer. If there are any holes where the comforter stuffing might spill out of, take the time to stitch these up. If stuffing or down comes out of your comforter during the washing or drying process it will be much more difficult to refill or replace it. 

Hand wearing purple gloves spot treating stain on a bed with pink rag

Step 4: Spot treat any stains

Before moving on to the washing machine, spot treat any difficult to remove stains. “Move the filling away from the stained area and treat with a cleaning product such as diluted Woolite or a mix of baking soda and water”[2] to prevent excess water from being trapped in the filling and leaving a soapy residue. If your comforter is white you can use diluted bleach as a spot treatment and in the washing cycle. To make your whites extra bright you can also use liquid bluing in your wash cycle. 

Step 5: Pick the right detergent

If you are washing a down comforter, you may require a down detergent depending on the care instructions on the manufacturer tag. Regular detergents can damage the delicate down feathers in your comforter, especially if it is not sufficiently rinsed and soap residue remains. If using regular detergent or washing a synthetic comforter, be sure to not overdo the amount of soap. Too much soap can leave it trapped in the delicate fibers of the stuffing leaving residue. This soapy residue can make your stuffing clump together and become weighted down. 

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

To keep your whites extra white, you can use bleach in your cycle as long as your comforter’s care instructions permit it. To remove any yellow tint from your whites use liquid bluing in your rinse cycle to cancel out any yellow tones. You can run an extra rinse cycle to remove any residue. 

Step 6: Throw it in the washing machine

Luckily most comforters are machine washable and can be cleaned in the comfort of your own home. However, cleaning a comforter is a tall order. Your comforter can become extremely heavy when wet which can cause some strain on your washing machine if your washing machine isn’t large enough or strong enough. Not only is it hard on your machine, but if there isn’t enough space in your machine it can also cause the filling to bunch up in certain areas instead of spreading out evenly. You ideally want there to be as much room as possible for your comforter to move around in the machine freely. If you’re not confident your washing machine can handle a load of your comforter take a trip to the laundromat and use a commercial washing machine, or outsource the work to a dry cleaner. 

Step 7: Choose the right cycle

First, check your comforter’s manufacturing care tag for any instructions regarding cycle and temperature. “Cold or warm water will protect colors and fabrics, while hot water will kill dust mites”[2], however, the heat of your dryer will also kill dust mites if you’re concerned about keeping your colors fresh with a cold wash. If possible, you should wash with hot or warm water to deep clean your comforter and sanitize any bacteria. You should wash your comforter on a delicate cycle so as to not damage it, and run an extra rinse to remove any soapy residue. 

Woolite 2 Pack Dryer Balls, 2.5 inches, Assorted

Step 8: Dry dry dry!

Before transferring your freshly washed comforter into the dryer remove as much excess water as possible. This will make things much easier on the dryer, and speed up the drying process altogether. Run a few extra spin cycles on your washing machine to remove as much water as possible. This will also make your comforter much lighter. The weight of a wet comforter can be hard on your dryer. After you’ve removed as much water as possible you’re ready to put it in the dryer. 

Again, if you think your dryer is too small, take your comforter to a laundromat to use a larger or industrial dryer. When you dry your comforter in the dryer, use the temperature recommended on the care instructions tag. To help evenly disperse the filling or down, add some clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the cycle. They will help fluff the filling back into place. If you don’t have tennis balls or dryer balls, you can instead remove the comforter every half an hour or so and give it a good shake. This will make sure that the filling does get squished to one side. Drying your comforter can take several hours, so practice is key. Make sure your comforter is 100 percent dry before putting it back on your bed. A wet comforter can produce bacteria, it causes damage to the filling, and it will smell foul. Shake out your comforter every half hour to make sure it is drying fully and evenly. 

LINENSPA All Season Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Microfiber Comforter, King, White

Now that you’ve finally finished cleaning your comforter, it’s time for a good night’s rest in your fresh clean bed! Don’t spoil the party with dirty sheets. Wash your bedding as well for the full effect and rest easy knowing you only have to wash your comforter once or twice a year. 


Article Sources:

  1. American Lung Association. “Dust and Dust Mites
  2. Clever. “How to Wash a Comforter in 6 Easy Steps
  3. Land of Sleep. “5 Reasons You Will Rest Better In a Clean Room