How to Wash a Comforter or Duvet

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When was the last time you washed your duvet or comforter? These steps get it clean and odor-free without causing lumps.

Clean and dried duvet sitting on top of washing machine in a laundry room

You already know your bedding collects dust, dust mites, and other allergens. Did you know it can soak up your sweat, body oils, and other things, too? Over time, these things can make your comforter or duvet smell bad and feel flat. If you don’t use a duvet cover and launder it often, you’ll eventually notice your bed cover feels greasy. None of that mess makes for a pleasant night’s sleep.

Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to wash a duvet or comforter — even those filled with down. Below, you’ll learn how to launder your bed cover with or without a washing machine and how to dry it properly, so it doesn’t develop lumps or go flat. You’ll get rid of stains, odors, allergens, body oils, dirt, and grime, too.

How to Launder a Duvet or Comforter

The easiest way to clean your duvet or comforter is in a large capacity washing machine. If there’s not a hand’s width of space at the top after you’ve added your duvet, or if you have to shove it inside to close the door, then the machine is not big enough to launder it properly. In that case, head to a local laundromat or follow the instructions further down to wash it by hand.

Materials Required

  • An old toothbrush or cleaning rags
  • A measuring cup and a bowl
  • Stain removers (Shout, Zout, or Oxiclean)
  • Washer or deep bathtub
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • A dryer
  • 3-6 clean tennis balls or wool dryer balls (optional)

Time Required

Laundering a comforter or duvet in a machine will take at least two wash and two drying cycles. How long that takes depends on the machine you’ll use. Set aside 4 hours to wash and dry each bed cover for home machines. You may only need half as long if you plan to use a commercial machine at a laundromat.

Step 1: Treat Stains and Check for Tears

Using an enzyme-based laundry stain remover like Shout or Zout gets out most spots from things like spilled food or drinks and pet accidents. To remove blood stains, dissolve 2 tablespoons of Oxiclean in 1 cup of cold water and dab the spot with a rag, turning the cloth so you’re always working with a clean area.

Then, before adding the duvet or comforter to the washing machine, check it thoroughly for holes or loose threads. Even small gaps in the seam can become a big problem when you’re washing and drying your comforter, so repair any problems you find before you proceed.

Step 2: Washing Your Duvet or Comforter in the Machine

It’s important to use a liquid laundry detergent when washing a duvet or comforter in a machine since powdered detergents may not fully dissolve and can leave a residue that is difficult to remove. Select the delicate cycle with the longest duration. Set the temperature to a warm water wash and cold rinse for synthetic fiber fillings and down alternatives. Heat damages down comforters and those with natural fiber filings, so use cold water to both wash and rinse them.

Once the cycle ends, remove your duvet or comforter from the machine and adjust it — careful, it will be heavy! Put the comforter back in the machine and run a second wash, but do not add any detergent this time. This second cycle removes any remaining dirt and soapy residue that could lead to mildew or keep your comforter from fluffing fully in the dryer.

Step 3: Drying and Fluffing

When wet, your comforter is heavy but also very delicate. Wringing or twisting it at this stage will compress and flatten the damp filling. Heat can also damage it, so choose the low heat drying cycle and only dry one cover at a time. You can add a few clean tennis balls to the load to fluff your comforter as it dries, but don’t add anything else like a towel or other clothing that could cause friction and damage your bedspread. To ensure even drying, stop the machine every 20 minutes to remove and adjust your duvet then resume drying.

How to Wash Your Duvet by Hand

The bathtub is the easiest way to wash a comforter or duvet without a washing machine. Fill the tub with 2 inches of cold water and swirl in 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent. Add your comforter to the tub and run the water as needed until it’s submerged.

Gently press down on the fabric with your palms, one at a time, to help agitate the material. Do this for several minutes then let it sit for 10 minutes and soak. Drain the tub and refill it with fresh water, repeat the palm agitation and drain again. Continue until you can fill the tub without creating suds, then repeat a final time. Let the duvet drain in your tub for an hour. Don’t try to speed up the draining process by wringing or pressing down on your duvet, or you may cause the filling to clump. After an hour, transfer it to the dryer.

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Tips to Keep Your Comforter Clean

Washing and drying a comforter or duvet can easily take an entire afternoon or even longer if you’re washing it by hand. So it just makes sense to do what you can to keep your bedspread clean as long as possible. Use laundry stain removers to spot treat spills immediately, and shake your comforter from each end and side while making your bed to help redistribute the filling.

One way to keep your comforter clean is by using a cover that zips or buttons closed. Remove and launder the cover at least once a month or weekly if you have pets or are prone to allergies. Wash the inserted duvet or comforter at least once a year or any time you’ve been ill. If you prefer not to use a cover, you’ll need to launder your comforter or duvet every season to keep allergens and odors under control.

To fluff and freshen your comforter, tumble it in the dryer for 10 minutes using the no-heat setting. This will also help shake out any dust or pet hair. Alternatively, you can lay it on a comforter rack in a sunny spot. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant that will also help eliminate germs and moisture while deodorizing your comforter too.

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