While a comforter doesn’t need to be washed as often as other bedding, like sheets, it still needs the occasional cleaning. Carolyn Forte, Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab, recommends washing your comforter once or twice a season, depending on how heavily it’s used.
When it comes to laundering your comforter, you may find yourself wondering how to wash such a large item without ruining it or losing its loft and fluffiness in the wash. Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute, we have cleaning and fabric experts that wash bedding year-round. Whether it’s for testing laundry detergents and washing machines or for finding the best comforters, we do hundreds of cleaning and laundering tests every year. Below, we’ve put together an easy step-by-step guide on everything you need to know about how to wash a comforter.
Products you’ll need:
- Laundry detergent: Our pros recommend Tide’s Hygienic Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent.
- Spot remover: In our tests, Shout’s Advanced Action Gel worked really well, even on set-in stains.
- Dryer balls: To make sure your comforter dries completely, we like Smart Sheep’s reusable dryer balls.
How to wash a comforter:
Step 1. Take note of the care label.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check whether the comforter is machine washable or dry clean only. If the instructions say dry clean only, it’s best to take it to a professional dry cleaner.
Step 2: If the comforter is machine washable, check the size of your washing machine.
We recommend using the largest capacity washer and dryer you can so the comforter has enough room to move around freely in the machines. We also recommend a front-loading washing machine or top loader without an agitator so the comforter doesn’t get stuck in one position, or worse caught on or under the agitator which may cause the fabric to tear.
Step 3: Pre-treat any stains on your comforter, before you put the comforter in the wash.
Work the laundry pre-treater into the stain, allow it to set for five minutes, then load the comforter into the washer. Most stains can be treated with Shout’s Advanced Action Gel, our Lab has found.
Step 4: Wash the comforter according to the care label instructions.
If there are none, choose cool or warm water and select the gentle or delicate cycle. Our Cleaning Lab Executive Director also suggests choosing the Bulky Bedding or Bulky Items cycle if your washer has that option. “This cycle is designed for items like comforters and sleeping bags. It usually adds more water and has a longer soak time to better penetrate and clean dense or filled items. It may also have a slower spin speed to keep from flattening bulky items,” Forte says. In addition, add an extra rinse cycle to make sure all residues are rinsed away.
Step 5: Check for stains before putting the comforter in the dryer.
If stains are still present, pre-treat and wash again. Keep repeating until all stains are fully removed before putting it in the dryer which can permanently set stains in the fabric.
Step 6: Toss in dryer balls and fluff.
When drying a comforter, it’s a good idea to use dryer balls to help prevent clumping and fluff the comforter while drying. Select a low temperature setting and periodically, pause the dryer throughout the cycle to shake out the comforter and turn it around for more even drying. For a down-filled comforter, feel around for any wet down clumps and try to break them up with your fingers before putting the comforter back into the dryer. You may have to restart the dryer cycle a few times depending on the size of your comforter to get it completely dry.
Step 7: Check for wet spots.
At the end of the cycle, check that the comforter is fully dry. If there are damp spots repeat the dry cycle or lay flat to finish drying.
Other tips on caring for your comforter:
- Buy wisely. Check the manufacturer’s washing recommendations before you buy. Keep in mind for comforters that require only dry cleaning, you’ll need to take trips to the dry cleaner and may have to pay extra to have it cleaned, depending on its size. Also, even if the comforter is machine washable, you may have to launder it in a commercial washer and dryer if your at-home machines aren’t big enough for the comforter to move around freely. And, if the label recommends only spot cleaning, consider choosing a different comforter; you want to be able to give it a good, deep cleaning when necessary.
- Opt for a duvet cover or comforter protector. If you don’t want to wash your comforter too often, a duvet cover will help extend its life by protecting it from dirt and spills. And it’s easier to wash than an entire comforter.
- Don’t overuse detergent. You want to use enough detergent to get the comforter clean, but not so much that the suds are not rinsed away completely. Don’t use more than the detergent label recommends for the size of the load.
- Store it clean. Before storing the comforter away for the season make sure to wash and thoroughly dry it to remove all traces of dirt and stains.
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