It’s not always easy to wash down duvets and feather duvets correctly, as there are a number of issues to consider. With the right care, however, a down duvet can be used virtually forever; high-quality comforters, particularly, can be used for several decades.
A high-quality down duvet consists of up to 90% down. Good down comforters are not only extremely durable, but can also absorb moisture very well and will keep you snug and warm even on the coldest winter nights. In this article, we explain how to wash your down comforter and why the proper care of a down comforter is so important.
What exactly is a down duvet and how does it work?
The term „down“ refers to the lower plumage of various bird species. Unlike feathers, down has no hard quill and is therefore incredibly soft. Down usually comes from ducks or geese; the most expensive down comes from the eider duck, which is native to Iceland.
In structure, down clusters resembles snowflakes. Down clusters are radially arranged and negatively charged. This creates empty space within the individual down clusters and between the various down clusters. These air cushions in turn create down’s incredible insulation capacity. In addition, down can easily absorb moisture through the air cushions and then release it to the outside.
How is down sourced?
When buying a down comforter, you should pay attention to how the down was obtained and which country it comes from. Duck down comes exclusively from slaughtered animals, but goose down can come from live animals. Live plucking is now banned in Europe.
If you want to buy a down comforter, you should check if it has the DownPass label. The DownPass is a certificate that confirms that the down comes from animals that have been raised in an ethically-correct manner. All products with a DownPass certificate have a test number, so that the product and the entire supply chain can be traced.
Why is it so important to wash a down duvet correctly?
To maintain the down’s elasticity, it must be washed and aired correctly. If the down sticks together, not only does the down comforter feel lumpy, but the comforter’s insulating power is reduced. If there is less of an air cushion between the down clusters, this means that you’ll be less protected from the cold. While you can wash geese or duck down comforters yourself at home, it's better to take eiderdown comforters to the cleaners, as they are quite delicate.
Down blankets are usually sold as comforters. The difference between a comforter or duvet and a quilt is that a certain amount of down is placed in separate compartments in the latter. With a quilt, the filling material is distributed over the entire width and is fixed by stitching. This has the advantage that the filling of duvets does not clump together as a whole and is easier to shake apart.
How often should I wash my down duvet?
Down comforters are actually able to keep themselves fairly clean by themselves. So, it’s not really necessary to wash a down duvet with water as often as you would another type of blanket. Since the body releases a lot of sweat during the night and comforters absorb it, they should be aired out regularly to prevent dust mites from accumulating in the bedding. Of course, this does not only apply to blankets, but also to pillows and even to the mattress, if you want to keep your bed as mite-free as possible.
After airing it out, the down comforter should be shaken vigorously, because only then will it retain its volume and fluffiness. It's best to air and shake the comforter out daily in the fresh air, though not in direct sunlight.
You should wash your down comforter in the washing machine at least every two years. Before you do this, though, you should make sure that your down comforter does not have more than 400 grams of filling. It’s best to wash heavy down duvets not washed in the washing machine, but rather in the bathtub or even at the dry cleaner’s. If you do it in the bathtub, you should first soak the duvet with some mild detergent or wool detergent for one hour in warm water at 40 degrees. Afterwards, you should dry it in the dryer. Make sure that the detergent has been completely rinsed off from the down comforter. This can require at least six rinse cycles.
Can I wash my down duvet in the washing machine?
Your washing machine should be able to handle at least 5 to 7.5 kilograms so that the down duvet can be washed thoroughly. A tumble dryer is also essential. Comforters should always be washed separately from the rest of the laundry, as doing otherwise might damage the materials. As a rule, down comforters should be washed at 40 to 60 degrees with either the wool or delicates program.
In any case, read the washing instructions or the manufacturer's label on the duvet before washing it. The instructions may vary for some comforters.
Washing down comforters: What’s the best detergent to use?
Down consists of keratin, a kind of protein fibre. Heavy-duty detergents usually contain molecules that break down proteins to remove stains from textiles better and faster. Down, however, can easily be damaged with this type of heavy-duty detergent. If you want to wash your down comforter yourself, you should never use heavy-duty detergents, as these are too aggressive and can destroy the down.
Fabric softeners can also cause the down to stick together and make the comforter lumpy. It's therefore advisable to also avoid using fabric softeners on your down duvet.
Instead of a strong detergent, you can use either a mild detergent or special wool/down detergent. The basic building material for wool and down is the same, namely keratin. Wool detergents contain re-fattening substances and can thus strengthen the keratin structure and make your down filing even more durable.
Drying down comforters: Where should I hang my down comforter after washing it?
If you want to wash a down comforter yourself, you need a dryer, as already mentioned. Comforters are able to absorb an incredible amount of moisture and therefore dry extremely slowly. If the moisture remains in the comforter for too long, this can lead to germs and mold developing. A down comforter should therefore be dried properly as soon as possible.
The down comforter should be dried in the dryer for 45 minutes at a medium temperature. Shake the comforter well afterwards, as some water might still remain in the down. Then put the comforter back in the dryer for another 20 minutes.
It’s always a good idea to put a few tennis balls in the dryer with the down duvet, as the tennis balls loosen up the down that has clumped together, which helps the comforter dry faster. After the second drying, you should repeat the process until the blanket is 100% dry.
It's also important to note that down duvets should not be dried outside after washing. The comforter generally won’t dry quickly enough, so mold may form inside. Also avoid direct sunlight. The sun can heat up a blanket too much (even up to 70 degrees) and this will destroy the natural fatty portions of the down. If the fats are destroyed, the down becomes brittle and can break.
Down comforters at Zizzz
At Zizzz, we carry duck down comforters and goose down comforters. All our products with down have been awarded the DownPass certificate. Our duck down products are made in the Black Forest region of Germany and our goose down products are made right here in Switzerland.
Besides duvets, you can of course find down pillows in our webshop. We are convinced that natural and renewable materials are better for you and the environment than synthetic products.