How to Wash a Comforter

Wash Comforter

Have you ever wondered if it's possible to wash a comforter? These wonderful cozy bed covers not only give your bedroom a rich, welcoming look, but they're also warm and fluffy to sleep under. But unfortunately, even with the best daily care, they get dirty and need to be cleaned. Many require professional care, but if you're lucky enough to have a comforter that's machine washable, we'll take you step-by-step on how to make it look like new again!

Sheets and pillow cases tend to get our attention when we think about washing bedding, however, it's a good idea to launder your comforter periodically. These bulky bed covers are frequently used and seldom laundered and they can become a favorite hiding place for dust mites.

Many comforters can be washed in your own home or a nearby laundromat. Here's a few rules of thumb when it comes to washing your comforter:

  • The majority of comforters can be washed at home in a large capacity washing machine.
  • Use your local laundromat if your comforter is extra bulky, as they have machines that can handle very large loads. 
  • Take care not to over-load the washer or dryer.
  • Over-loaded dryers can prevent the comforter from drying properly and possibly lead to mold.
  • Wool comforters, or other delicate fabrics, should usually be laundered at the dry cleaners. They have the equipment to safely clean the fabric. 

Steps to Wash a Comforter

Steps to wash a comforter

Step 1 - Read the Fabric Care Label

Whether your comforter is  filled with down or a down-alternative, you should always check the Fabric Care Label for the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations. In most cases, the type of fabric used to house the comforters filling will determine how it should be laundered. Fabrics, such as cotton, tend to be more durable and are frequently machine washable. 

If the Fabric Care Label states "Dry Clean Only" you'll get the best results by taking it to a dry cleaner to have it professionally cleaned. Many manufacturers recommend dry cleaning for their down-comforters. 

Step 2 - Inspect the Comforter

Check the comforter for any fabric tears or openings where the sewing has failed. Any damage should be fixed before you wash the comforter. In most cases, a needle and thread will do the trick, which you can do yourself, or you can take it to the dry cleaner for repair. 

If you find your comforter is stained, you may want to pre-treat the fabric before washing. Move the filling away from the stain so you can treat the fabric itself and not the filling. Dampen the area with a wet cloth and then use a product such as Woolite to help loosen the stain before washing. Baking soda is another option which can be very effective with light colored comforters. However,  if you use a duvet cover, the stains may not matter to you. 

Step 3 - Wash

If you have a large washing machine, you may be able to launder your comforter at home. However, in many cases your best choice is to visit a self-serve laundromat. Laundromats have large commercial machines that are better suited to handle the bulkiness of your comforter and the filler won't distort or compress. 

Here are some guidelines to determine if your washing machine is large enough to handle your comforter:

  • Your comforter should have a "fluffy feel" when it's inside the washer's tub. It should NEVER be "stuffed" into the washer.
  • There should be at least 20% of space at the top of the washer tub. This allows the water to fully cover the comforter.
  • Many front load washing machines use very low levels of water, which isn't ideal for washing your comforter.
  • King-size comforters almost always need to be washed at the laundromat. 
  • Large comforters (king and queen-sized) are difficult to thoroughly wash at home. Taking these larger sizes to a laundromat will almost always give you better results. 

The larger the washing machine, the better the results.

Whether you choose to wash your comforter at home or at a laundromat, your goal is to use the gentlest settings possible. The most common recommendations are listed below, but you should always check your comforter's Fabric Care Label.

  • 1
    Washer Setting: Select either the delicate or gentle setting.  
  • 2
    Water Level: Set the water level setting to maximum.
  • 3
    Temperature Setting: In most cases you'll use cold water to prevent the fabric from shrinking and to preserve the color. However, you should always follow the directions listed on the comforter's Fabric Care Label.
  • 4
    Detergent: Use a quality, mild laundry detergent, such as Woolite Gentle Cycle. Some detergents are designed specifically for washing down filling. Check that the detergent is appropriate for the fabric type and color. As a general rule of thumb, use about a third the amount of detergent you would normally use. NEVER use detergents that contain bleach. 
  • 5
    Spin Cycle: Allow the comforter to run thru 2 spin cycles. This will help speed the drying process.

Hand Washing

In some cases it may be necessary to hand wash your comforter. If your comforter is too large for your home washing machine or it is recommended by the manufacturer. Whatever the reason, follow these steps:

  • Fill your bathtub with cold water.
  • Add a capful of mild laundry detergent into the water and swish it around.
  • Place the comforter into the bathtub until it is fully immersed in water.
  • Using your hands, gently wash the comforter for several minutes.
  • Drain the water from the tub after the comforter has soaked for a few minutes.
  • Press the comforter against the bottom of the tub to remove as much water as possible. Never wring the fabric.
  • Rinse the comforter and swish it thru the cool water until all the detergent has been removed. Excess detergent can breakdown the fill material. 
  • Once you no longer see suds, and are confident that the comforter has been fully rinsed, gently press the excess water out. Never wring the fabric.
  • Use care when removing the comforter from the bathtub. It may be heavier than you expect.

Step 4 -  Dry

Properly drying your comforter is an important step to good results. It's going to take some time and effort on your part, and it's critical not to rush thru by using high heat . . . especially with down comforters.

Here are the two most common drying methods: 

Air Dry: Although this is the slowest option, if you have the available space and time, you may choose to air-dry your comforter rather than using a dryer. Be aware, a few manufacturers recommend that their comforters are dried in a dryer. Always check your Fabric Care Label before starting. Here's how to air dry your comforter:

  • Carefully extend the comforter flat and ensure that there are no folds in the material.
  • Drape it over chairs or other items that will allow the air to flow on both sides of the comforter.
  • Check periodically. If you find one side is drying faster than the other, it's a good idea to turn it over.  
  • Using a single clothes line or rope is not advised since it may distort the fabric shape. If you prefer to use a clothes line, hang it over 2 or preferably 3 lines to help distribute the fabric weight.
  • Allow the comforter to fully dry before removing. 
  • We recommend waiting a few days before placing your comforter in a duvet cover or folding it for storing. 

Dryer: Drying your comforter in a dryer usually speeds up to process, but it can still take several hours and may require more attention than air drying.  The first thing you need to do is decide if your home dryer is large enough to handle the task. Here's how to dry your comforter with a machine dryer: 

  • Your comforter should have plenty of space within the dryer drum. Never force it into a machine that is too small. If does not fit into your dryer, you can place it in a garbage bag to transport it to the laundromat. 
  • Check and follow the Fabric Care Label instructions to determine the dryer settings. In most cases, they recommend using a low temperature and a gentle dry cycle. 
  • Dryer balls (or tennis balls will work in a pinch) will help fluff the comforter while it's tumbling. Although, you still should check your comforter periodically.
  • Wait a night or two before returning your clean comforter back inside a duvet cover or folding it for storage. There's frequently a small amount of moisture within the filling, and by giving  it a few nights to "breathe" it should fully dry. 

Check your comforter every 60-minutes at home and every 30-minutes at the laundromat. Down, and some other fillings, tend to form clumps and need to be "fluffed" and smoothed out.