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Non Chemical Methods to Clean a Down Comforter

written by: Shelia Odak•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/18/2011

Does your down comforter say it must be dry cleaned? Your comforter is expensive, and you don’t want to ruin it. What do you do if you want to use a chemical-free cleaning method? Learn eco-friendly ways to safely clean your down comforter.

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    kevinrosseel 032008 056: 

    On a cold night, there is no more comforting feeling than snuggling under a down comforter. However, often when you unpack your down comforter from summer storage, it seems less than fresh. Learn some ways to clean your down comforter at home in order to get it fresh without harming the environment inside and outside your home.


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    Don't Forget the Duvet

    The most important part of keeping your down comforter clean is to encase it in a duvet. A duvet is a cover for your down comforter. Using a duvet will keep your comforter cleaner for longer by protecting it from spills, stains, dirt, and oils. Look for a duvet that feels substantial and thick. Often, these will be duvets with a high thread count. The denser fabric will keep your comforter the cleanest. Because the duvet itself is washable, you can launder it regularly to reduce dust and other allergens.

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    Yes Virginia, You Can Wash a Down Comforter

    This bit of advice is based on my personal experience. I admit that I have washed my own down comforter (several times, in fact) with no adverse results. The best way to do this is in a large machine, such as those found in a Laundromat. However, I have an extra large capacity washer at home and have used that for my comforter. I use a small amount of an eco-friendly detergent, such as Seventh Generation, and spot treat any stains before putting the comforter in the washer. Don't be frightened when you remove your comforter and see how flattened and bunched up the feathers seem. They will recover in the dryer. I dry the comforter in my home dryer (though, this too would work better in a larger machine) using new tennis balls to help fluff the down. I remove the comforter several times during the drying process to reposition it and to redistribute the tennis balls. Be aware that it will take a few cycles before your comforter is completely dry.

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    Harness the Power of the Sun

    Especially if you have been using a duvet on your comforter, it probably does not need a full-blown cleaning. What it needs is to be freshened. I learned the following trick years ago from watching an episode of Martha Stewart’s television show. She recommended placing the comforter outside on a sunny day. You can hang it on a clothesline or drape it over a patio table. Letting the comforter soak up the sun for several hours freshens it and is all the cleaning you need.

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    Use Your Dryer

    If you don’t have a good place where your comforter can hang outside for several hours, or if you live in a perpetually overcast area, fluffing it in your dryer is another chemical free way to clean a down comforter. Place the comforter in your dryer along with some new tennis balls or some clean tennis shoes. Since the comforter is not wet, you can use low heat to freshen your comforter and get some of the effects of the warmth of the sun.

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    After having used a chemical free way to clean a down comforter, you will notice that the odor is much fresher than the way it smalls after a trip to the dry cleaner.