How to clean & store your down comforter.
Even though there is still snow on the ground here in Minnesota, warmer temperatures are starting to peek around the corner. For many of us, that means it’s time to put away the down comforter in favor of a lightweight alternative. But that pesky care tag that reads “dry clean only”, is that really true? To that, we say “hold our laundry soap”. Read on to see how you can wash and store your down comforter at home, without a trip to the dry cleaner’s (or the harmful chemicals).
WHY WE CLEAN IT
Can you name one person who likes musty, smelly bedding? We can’t either. With proper cleaning before storage, you’ll be sure to have a fresh-smelling comforter come fall. Cleaning not only reduces the growth of mold and mildew, it also extends the life of the down filling. Dirt and body oils can degrade down filaments over time. Since the warmth of the blanket depends on the loft of the down, cleaning ensures many more toasty winters.
HOW TO DO IT
Machine wash in a high-capacity front-loading washing machine using lukewarm water on the gentle cycle. To keep fragile down fibers intact, use a specialized down wash instead of a traditional detergent. You can usually find these at outdoor retailers, and as a bonus they are great for your down jackets as well.
After washing, gently break up some of the bigger clumps of filling by hand before loading into the dryer. Add something to further break up the clumps as it dries—we like wool dryer balls, but a set of tennis shoes will also work--and tumble dry on low or no heat setting. If, after 2-3 cycles, your comforter is still damp, you can line dry or lay it out flat. This last step is crucially important because any leftover moisture will encourage mold growth.
WHERE TO STORE IT
Now that your comforter is completely dry and fresh as a daisy, it’s time to put it away for a long summer’s nap. You can save the attic space for holiday decorations and resident ghosts, since the last place you want to store a down comforter is somewhere with temperature or moisture extremes. Instead of the attic, basement, or garage, find a spot on a closet shelf (not on the floor) that is big enough to hold the comforter when it is loosely folded.
WHAT TO STORE IT IN
To keep your comforter protected from insects and dust, it’s best to store it in a protective covering. The best option is a cotton or muslin storage sack, which allows the material to breathe but keeps contaminants out. You can also use a cotton and plastic storage cube, but a full plastic container won’t do as it prevents moisture from escaping. Make sure to find one that fits your loosely folded comforter without compressing it, to preserve the loft of the down.
Ta-da! Now that your down comforter is clean and safely stored, you can enjoy summer knowing that when that first crisp fall night rolls around, it will be waiting for you.