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The right way to store comforters, down duvets and other bedding

Because you don't want mold, bugs or dust to ruin your pricey goose down comforter.

Josh Miller/CNET

In the hot summer months, the last thing you want on your bed are heavy, warm blankets. When you put your bedding away for the season, you'll want to make sure you are storing it correctly to protect against dust, dirt, bugs, mold and damage.

If you're used to cramming your comforters into a plastic bag and keeping them in the garage, it's time to stop. Here's what you need to know to store your bedding.

Start with clean and dry bedding

Before you store your comforters, duvets and quilts, they should ideally be clean, but they definitely need to be dry. If you wash your blankets or bedding before storing them, ensure they are completely dry with no leftover moisture that can cause mold to grow.

Linen Closet

Keep comforters folded up and on a closet shelf when you're not using them.

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Optimal storage conditions

The ideal way to store any bedding is neatly folded on a shelf in a closet. This provides as much airflow as possible to allow your comforters to breathe, which helps ward off mold, mildew and unpleasant, musty smells. This should be your default method for storing any comforter.

Unfortunately, some of us are not so lucky to have that kind of space, so we resort to storing our bedding wherever it'll fit.

As a general rule, keep your bedding out of sheds, attics or garages whenever possible. You want to avoid moisture, mice and bugs, and these places often harbor of all of three.

Bags to the rescue

OK, so you don't have a linen closet, or room in any other closet for that matter. Your next best choice is keeping your comforter under your bed. Make sure to protect your bedding against dust (which loves to accumulate under beds) with a storage bag.

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

The Container Store

Cotton bags are the best choice because they protect against dust and bugs, but also allow moisture to escape. Another option is a vacuum storage bag. These are OK for most bedding, with some exceptions I'll discuss below.

Whatever you do, stay away from plastic trash bags. Because they are not airtight, they can let in moisture and then trap it, which causes mold and mildew to grow.

Down comforters

Aside from folding it and putting it on a shelf, the best method to store your down comforter is in a large cotton storage bag, which allows it to breathe and doesn't compress it too much.

With a goose down duvet, you want to protect the feathers from being crushed while you store it. Crushed, damaged feathers can lead to a lumpy comforter that doesn't work as well to keep you warm. The easiest way to avoid this is to not store anything on top of your comforter.

White goose-down duvet, rolled up, side view.

Be careful not to crush the feathers in a down comforter while storing it.

Steve Gorton / Getty

The same issue applies to storing your down comforter in a vacuum bag. By compressing your comforter down, they can damage the feathers.

You can get away with using a vacuum bag so long as you leave around a bit of air in the bag so you don't fully compress the feathers. Make sure to shake and fluff the duvet when you remove it from storage to help it regain its loft.

Synthetic or down alternative comforters

Cotton or polyester comforters are perfectly happy in a vacuum-seal storage bag. They'll spring right back to life when you're ready to use them again. Make sure they are clean and completely dry before putting them in the bag, and slip in a dryer sheet for freshness.

Quilts

Quilts and coverlets you buy at the store will be fine in the same storage conditions mentioned above. For handmade quilts, you'll want to be more thoughtful to protect them for future generations.

If you have spare space in a closet, get a comforter hanger. This allows your quilt to breathe and works well for short-term storage, if you are switching out your bedding every few months. Alternatively, you can fold your quilt, wrap it in a cotton sheet and store it on a closet shelf.

For truly special quilts or long-term storage, get an acid-free box and acid-free tissue paper. Fold the quilt to fit the box and put crumpled tissue paper in the folds to prevent them from getting too flat and causing permanent creases. Also slip tissue paper in between each layer, which prevents the dyes on the fabric from transferring.

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