There's nothing better than crawling into bed underneath a fresh, clean, fluffy comforter. Although your comforter doesn't directly touch your skin as much as the sheets or pillowcases, it still needs to be washed fairly frequently (especially if someone in the household has been ill).
Want to know how to wash your comforter properly so that it lasts for years? Here are some of our best tips.
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How Often Should You Wash a Comforter?
The intervals between washing your bedding vary depending on the items. Generally, the bed sheets and pillowcases, which are in direct contact with your body, should be washed every one to two weeks to remove body oils and sweat as well as allergens and dust mites. The pillows may be washed every three months.
Blankets, bedspreads, and comforters, however, should only be washed monthly. If you're using a duvet cover, wash it at least monthly and the inner blanket or comforter every three to six months.
Determine the Washing Machine Size
While a lightweight bedspread or duvet cover should fit into any standard washing machine, a king-size comforter needs a larger-capacity unit to ensure it can be safely washed without damaging the fabric, filling, or washer. Nelly Martinez, Whirlpool senior brand manager, tells Hunker, "Your comforter only gets clean when there's enough room for it to agitate and tumble. When it's time to wash, place the comforter into your washer carefully. If your top-load washer has an agitator, place it loosely around the wash tub and try to keep the load balanced."
If your washer and dryer simply aren't big enough, you could consider taking the comforter to a dry cleaner or a laundromat, where larger-capacity machines are available. "Large-capacity machines are best for washing comforters, as smaller washers and dryers aren't equipped to handle bulky items and materials like comforters. A large-capacity washer needed for comforters have at least a 5.0 cubic ft. capacity, and large-capacity dryers have at least a 7.0 cubic ft. capacity," Martinez says.
Check the Care Label
Before you wash, check the label. Usually located on the bottom edge of the comforter, the label provides specific information, including the comforter size and materials. It will give general cleaning instructions, such as "machine wash warm — tumble dry" or "dry clean only." It may also include specific directions like "do not bleach" or "do not iron." These instructions may be indicated by symbols depending on the manufacturer and the state or country's regulations.
A down comforter needs special attention, such as specific down comforter detergent, a gentle cycle, and a very low heat setting. If you have a down comforter, please be sure to follow the care instructions on the label or take it to a professional dry cleaner.
Use the Recommended Temperature Settings
When washing the comforter, use the recommended water temperature and washing machine setting that's listed on the care label. If the label is missing, use cold water and the delicate or slow settings on the washing machine and the delicate setting on the dryer to avoid damaging, fading, or shrinking the fabric. Some washing machines have a bulk setting specifically for large items like your comforter.
To wash the comforter:
- Put the oxygen bleach or laundry booster and laundry detergent into the washing machine or dispenser.
- Insert the comforter, distributing it evenly around the agitator.
- Set the temperature and agitation level according to the care label. Use the bulk setting and an extra rinse cycle (if available on the washer).
- Start the washing machine.
- Run another rinse and spin cycle if the second rinse setting is not available.
- Add 1/2 cup of baking soda or vinegar to the final rinse. Vinegar should go in the fabric softener dispenser or be added to the rinse water after it has filled the washer.
- Check to ensure stains have been removed before putting the comforter in the dryer. If stains are still visible, repeat the stain removal process.
While you may prefer to add fabric softener to the final rinse, double-check the label and consider using other eco-friendly methods to soften the material, such as baking soda or vinegar in the final rinse, as the scented products may affect sensitive and asthmatic members of the family. Fabric softeners can also cause buildup on fabrics over time.
Avoid Dryer Sheets
After washing the comforter, you can dry it on a clothesline outside or use your dryer. A line-dried comforter may benefit from a quick tumble in the dryer on the "air dry," "delicate," or "fluff" setting to soften the fabric. While dryer sheets are popular, Martinez says, "It's likely best to skip fabric softener when it comes to drying a comforter to care for the material of the comforter, but check the care tag to be sure." Instead, consider adding several tennis balls or wool dryer balls to help fluff the comforter and other clothing while tumbling in the dryer.
Here's how to properly dry your comforter:
Take the comforter out of the washer and put it in the dryer.
- Set the dryer at the recommended setting, usually delicate, low, or medium heat.
- Set a timer and stop the dryer every half hour to pull the comforter at least halfway out and fluff it manually before reinserting it and restarting the drying cycle. This helps prevent lumps and bumps in the comforter filling.
- If the comforter isn't completely dry at the end of the cycle, hang it on a rack or clothesline, lay it flat, or put it back in the dryer to tumble for another 30- to 60-minute cycle.
How to Patch Holes in a Comforter
If you pull your comforter out from your duvet cover and notice it has a few holes, these are simple enough to fix. Here's how:
- Lay the comforter flat with the hole facing up.
- Trim any loose threads around the hole.
- Cut out a patch that's 1 inch larger than the hole.
- Cut out fusible webbing to be the same size as the patch.
- Place the fusible webbing over the hole and then place the patch on top (right side up) and press according to the adhesive directions.
- Hand stitch around the edges of the patch with a matching-color thread if desired.
- Allow the fabric to cool before washing the comforter.
Pretreat Stains Properly
If you have any stains that you notice on your comforter, be sure to treat them before you put it in a wash cycle, as it can be more difficult to get them out after washing and drying. Enzyme treatments and/or oxygen bleach may be used to remove blood or other stains. Ink stains from ballpoint pens may require an additional step for removal from the comforter as well as the sheets and blankets.
Here's how to remove ink stains on fabrics that can be bleached with chlorine bleach products:
- Pretreat ink stains with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Soak the stain with the hand sanitizer and rub it into the stain.
- Wait a few minutes.
- Pretreat with your favorite stain remover or if the fabric is white, rub a bleach-type stain remover pen over the stain.
- Soak for five to 10 minutes and then wash the comforter.
When the care label on the comforter and/or other bedding says "do not bleach," oxygen bleach may be used to remove stains and smells. Here's how to remove stains with oxygen bleach:
- Run cold water over the stained area.
- Soak with an enzyme cleaner first to remove organic matter and blood stains if desired.
- Rinse with cold water.
- Mix 1 gallon of warm water with 1 scoop of OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover or another oxygen bleach product in a bucket or laundry sink.
- Submerge the stained area for six hours. If the stains are extensive, increase the amount of oxygen bleach accordingly and soak the entire comforter in the washer.
- Drain the stain-removing solution.
- Wash the comforter.