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Your comforter is gross—here's how to wash it

Washing your comforter or duvet is easier than you think!

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Even if you change your sheets every week or two, you probably don't give much attention to your comforter. That's a huge mistake: It collects the same dirt, sweat, and dead skin that other sheets and pillows do—and if you have a pet that likes to lie on the bed when you're not home, things can get even nastier.

If you haven't washed your comforter in a month, it's time. You should also wash it before you put it away for summer, as clothes moths are attracted to dirty laundry. The good news is that you can probably wash it at home. Here's how.

What you need to wash your comforter at home:

• Washing machine
• Gentle detergent
• Comforter
• 2 tennis balls

Prep Time Needed: None
Total Time Needed: Approximately 40 minutes, depending on the washer, plus time for drying
Difficulty: Easy

Step-by-Step

  1. Read the care label prior to starting. Most down and down-alternative comforters can be washed at home with a gentle detergent. Some comforter labels specify "dry clean only," in which case you should follow the instructions or risk damaging your bedding. There may also be specific temperature settings for washers and dryers, which should be followed accordingly.
  2. Prior to actually washing your comforter, make sure it has no loose threads or holes. If there are small tears, make sure to patch them first with a needle and thread. This additional step will prevent these small holes from becoming larger during washing.
  3. Load your comforter into your washing machine, making sure it fits with room to be distributed evenly. Your comforter needs adequate room to get thoroughly clean, so if your home washing machine is too small, you should to take it to the laundromat and use a large, front-load washer.
  4. Set the washing machine to the delicate setting and select the water temperature to cool water, unless otherwise indicated on the care label. If you have a problem with dust mites, use hot water. (Heat over 130°F can kill dust mites).
  5. Place a small amount of gentle detergent into the washer. Make sure to choose a detergent that is safe for delicate materials. Not using a huge amount of detergent will prevent oversudsing in the machine, and also reduces stripping the feathers of down comforters.
  6. Add 2 tennis balls to the wash to help balance the load and ensure effective cleaning.

Now, it's time to dry. Even if your dryer has a dedicated "comforter" or "bedding" setting, don't count on it: Most comforters are too big to dry fully without someone manually de-tangling them during a wash.

What you need to dry your comforter at home:

• Dryer
• Comforter
• 2 tennis balls or dryer balls

Prep Time Needed: none
Total Time Needed: Approximately 40 minutes depending on the dryer
Difficulty: Easy

Step-by-Step

  1. Place the comforter in the dryer with the two tennis balls or dryer balls. These additions help keep the fill evenly distributed, so you don't end up with a lumpy comforter.

  2. If your dryer doesn't have a dedicated setting for bedding or comforters, set it to low-heat. It might take more than an hour for the comforter to dry thoroughly. Since this is the case, make sure to regularly fluff the comforter during the drying process. Every 20 minutes, pull the comforter out of the dryer and fluff it. This helps redistribute the fill and encourages thorough and even drying.

Ideally, comforters should be replaced every 3-6 years. If your comforter has lost it's fluff after washing and drying, it might be time to find a replacement.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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