How to wash your down or down-alternative comforter

No time to make it to the dry cleaners? No problem. Use this cleaning method to keep your down comforter fluffy and fresh.

Molly Price Former Editor
3 min read
Modern bedroom
Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Down and down alternative comforters bring that fluffy, luxurious hotel feeling home with a style that's timeless. It might seem like an intimidating, highly-specialized task to clean that down bedding, but it's actually pretty simple. Dry cleaners can freshen and fluff up your bedding, but there are do-it-yourself methods for cleaning you covers. 

What you need

Cleaning a down comforter isn't difficult, but it isn't as straightforward as tossing your jeans in the washer. Since down comforters are large, you'll need a big machine. Front-load washers work best. Since they don't have an agitator, there's less risk of tearing or damaging the comforter. Front-loaders also allow the comforter to tumble efficiently. You'll need a pretty big one, though: If your washer is too small, the weight of a wet down comforter could damage it. 

That's where you local laundromat comes in. The  washers and dryers there will have a larger capacity than models intended for in-home use, and they are probably your best bet for efficiency -- but if you have an extra-large front loader at home, you're in luck. 

Once you've found a washer that works for you, be sure you have these supplies on hand:

  • Mild detergent
  • Tennis balls
  • Stain removal spray


Before you toss your comforter in the washer, check for any tough stains that catch your eye. Use a stain removal spray to spot clean those areas. Spray a generous amount of stain remover onto the stain, gently rub it in and allow it to set in for as long as time allows.

Inspect your comforter for any holes or tears in the fabric. You'll want to mend those before putting the comforter through a wash and dry cycle. If you don't, you'll risk further damage and feathers escaping into your machine.  


Use an extra large, high efficiency front load washer to clean down or down alternative comforters.

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Use warm water and mild detergent, never bleach, to wash your comforter. Be careful not to add too much soap. Down feathers are naturally water repellent to help their wearers stay warm and dry. Too much soap can strip the down of its natural oils, leaving you with a lumpy, matted and less effective comforter. 

Select the delicate cycle on your washing machine, and run the comforter through two rinse cycles to remove all soapy residue. 


You'll need to dry the comforter on low heat, and that means it may take several hours for the comforter to completely dry. Throw in one or two tennis balls with the comforter. The punching action of the tennis balls in the dryer helps to fluff up the comforter, and prevent the down from clumping together. You can also purchase fluffer rings specially designed for comforter fluffing, but a tennis ball works similarly.

If you don't have tennis balls or fluffing rings, take the comforter out a few times during the drying process and fluff it up by hand. If it's still damp after a few hours of drying, remove it and hang it in a sunny, warm area where air will circulate on all around it. 


Cotton and plastic storage bags keep out dust, while allowing the comforter to breathe.

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In between washings

As long as you're using a duvet cover, your down comforter should only need washing one or two times per year. In between washing, keep it covered and occasionally air it out by hanging it outside to refresh it. 

If you have a brand new comforter that arrives wrinkled or clumpy, give it a good shake or toss it in your dryer on low to fluff it up. 

What not to do

You should never use harsh cleaning chemicals or bleach on a down comforter. There's also no need to iron it (try the drying trick above). Allow the comforter to dry completely before use to prevent mold growth. 

Down comforters made from muslin have a lower thread count, somewhere between 100-180. If the comforter is made of cotton the thread count could be 250 or more. Luxury comforters with thread counts of 400 or more (likely sateen), should only be dry cleaned. 

No matter your bedding style, a down comforter is a luxurious way to tuck in at night. With a little bit of time and effort you can keep your comforter clean and fresh for years to come.