Your bedding should be comfortable, cozy, breathable, and hygienic. Though investing in high-quality pieces is one part of the equation, it's up to you to keep things clean — and clean everything, including the comforter, regularly.
Since comforters are relatively bulky, they can be much trickier to clean than sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers. Still, it's important to launder your comforter a few times a year to remove dust, dirt, body oils and other residues.
This guide will go over step-by-step instructions on how to wash a comforter, how to dry a comforter and general care tips like when it’s time to replace it. Let's get started.
How to Clean a Comforter the Right Way
Laundering sheets and other bedding basics is a relatively easy process which you can check out in our blog, How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding. Properly cleaning a comforter can be a bit more complex. If you're not sure where to start, don’t worry. Keep reading to learn how to wash a comforter, without the struggle.
What You'll Need
When washing and drying a comforter or duvet insert, you'll need:
Mild laundry detergent (preferably a natural formula)
Stain remover, such as OxiClean
Wool dryer balls
Ideally, use a large-capacity washing machine and dryer, each with sizable drums that can accommodate the bulk of your quilted bedspread.
How to Wash a Comforter
Step-by-step instructions on how to wash a comforter in a washing machine:
1. Remove the Duvet Cover
First, remove the duvet cover. The cover should always be washed separately from the comforter. It should also be cleaned much more often (once a week is ideal).
2. Add Laundry Detergent
Next, add laundry detergent to the washer drum. Do this before placing the comforter inside, as it helps the soap dissolve better than just pouring it on top.
You'll also want to add OxiClean (or your stain remover of choice) directly into the drum with the laundry detergent or if your washer has one, in the designated slot.
3. Load the Comforter
After adding the soap, load your comforter into the washer. As noted, a large-capacity washing machine is ideal, as smaller drums may not be able to adequately agitate and spin the duvet.
In certain cases, a thick king-size comforter can cause a washing machine to error out. This may leave you with a sopping-wet, half-washed comforter that's not ready to be tumble-dried. With this in mind, sometimes it’s a good idea to wash a large, heavy comforter in an industrial-size machine at your local laundromat.
4. Select the Proper Cycle and Water Temperature
With the soap and comforter in the washer, close the lid and choose the proper settings. Look at the tag or the company's website to check the brand's recommended care instructions. You’ll find exactly what cycle and water temperature to choose.
Normal or Gentle
When in doubt, a normal or gentle cycle should work. Your washing machine might have a "bulky" setting, which is best for a king-size comforter.
As for the water temperature, cold/cold or warm/cold is typically best. Cold water will be the gentlest on the fabrics, but warm water is generally better for sanitizing and deep cleaning.
Your washer may also allow you to choose the spin speed. A medium or high speed is best for comforters, as it helps get most of the water out of the thick, quilted design (you don't want to put a sopping-wet comforter in your dryer). Bear in mind that faster spinning can compromise the stitching — but this is one reason a high-quality comforter with reinforced seams is a worthwhile investment.
5. Wash and Inspect
With the soap in, the comforter loaded and the settings selected, the last thing to do is start the wash. When it's done washing, examine how wet your comforter is. If it appears to still be soaked with water, an additional spin-only cycle will fix that.
How to Dry a Comforter
When your comforter is done washing, it's ready for the next stage: drying. Find step-by-step instructions on drying a comforter in a dryer below.
1. Empty the Lint Filter,
Before drying any load of laundry, be sure to empty the lint filter. This should be done between loads, every time, no matter how little lint is to ensure dryer efficiency.
2. Load the Comforter
Next, place your comforter in the dryer drum. Try to spread it out loosely and evenly rather than wadded up in a ball.
3. Add Wool Dryer Balls
Add up to three wool dryer balls to the drum. This will help prevent the comforter from wadding up, allowing more air to pass through the material helping it to dry quicker, fluffier, and softer.
Do Dryer Balls Really Work? Read our blog for the facts.
4. Select the Cycle and Temperature
Close the dryer door, then select your cycle and temperature settings. Your dryer might have a "bedding" setting, but if not, choose a "heavy" or "bulky" cycle.
Tumble-drying on low heat is the general rule of thumb for most loads of laundry, as minimizing the heat helps protect your fabrics. Note, since comforters take a long time to dry, using the lowest heat setting means you may need to run your dryer more than once to fully dry the comforter. You might want to consider adding bursts of medium heat, and as mentioned, using wool dryer balls to greatly speed things up.
5. Press Start and Monitor
Start your dryer and let it run for about a half-hour. Then check to see how dry your comforter is and untwist it if needed. Run it for another half-hour or so, and repeat until it's totally dry.
Generally speaking, comforters take twice as long (around 1 hour more) to dry as other loads of laundry. To help the drying process along, empty the lint filter each time you check on the blanket. Adding bursts of medium heat can also help, as previously mentioned.
6. Consider Air-Drying the Rest of the Way
When your comforter is 50% to 80% dry, you can remove it from the dryer and let it air-dry the rest of the way in a well-ventilated area. Just note that you'll need a clean space large enough for it to hang or spread out. Still, it might still take several more hours to dry completely so make sure you have plenty of time before you plan to sleep with it.
Tips for Proper Comforter Care
Now that you know how to wash a comforter, follow these care tips to keep it in the best shape for as long as possible.
Follow the Brand's Care Instructions
When cleaning bedding, it's best to follow the brand's care instructions. Washing a down comforter can be slightly different from washing a duvet insert filled with cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. The information should be on the tag or the product listing on the company's website.
Spot Treat If Needed
Before tossing your comforter in the washing machine, spot-treat stains if needed. You can use a stain remover like OxiClean or mild laundry detergent, coating the spot and letting it sit for at least 20 minutes prior to washing.
Clean Your Comforter Regularly
Knowing how often to wash a comforter is part of the equation. You don't have to clean it nearly as often as your other bedding, but every two or three months will help eliminate buildup of dust, dander, sweat, and odors.
Wash Your Duvet Cover Often
Consider Occasional Tumble-Drying Without Washing
If you like a fluffy comforter, think about occasionally tumble-drying yours without washing it first. This will not only help separate the fill material and make it more voluminous but also remove dust, which will end up in the lint filter.
How to Know When to Replace a Comforter
Signs your comforter needs replacing:
There are visible stains that don't come out in the wash
Your comforter has a lingering odor
The fill is unevenly distributed
You're unable to fluff it back up
You wake up with a sore throat, dry mouth or irritated eyes
See our guide on How Often to Replace Sheets, Pillows and Other Bed Linens for more insight.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Wash a Comforter
Find answers to frequently asked questions about how to wash a comforter below.
How often should you wash your comforter?
You should wash your comforter at least a few times per year — every two to four months should suffice. That said, your sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover should be laundered much more often, about once a week.
Will washing my comforter ruin it?
Washing a comforter shouldn't ruin it. But keep in mind that knowing how to clean a down comforter might be different from knowing how to launder a down-alternative duvet insert. Always follow the brand's care instructions, as some call for spot-cleaning or dry-cleaning only.
See our Down Comforter 101 guide for more tips and insight.
How do you wash a large comforter?
When washing a large bedspread, such as a king-size comforter, you'll need a large-capacity washing machine. Even with a big enough drum, you'll want to wash the comforter on its own to give it as much room as possible to agitate and spin.
Can I put my comforter in the dryer?
Yes, you can put a comforter in the dryer if the care instructions say it's dryer-friendly. Tumble-drying on low heat is usually recommended, though it may take multiple cycles to dry completely.
How long does it take for a comforter to dry?
A comforter can take anywhere from one to three hours to dry in a standard dryer. The exact time will depend on the heat setting, the size of your comforter, the size of your dryer drum, and whether you use wool dryer balls.
Should I air-dry my comforter?
Air-drying a comforter can help protect the materials from potential damage and save energy. However, if you hang it up or lay it flat right out of the washer, it might take a full day (or more) to dry entirely. Consider tumble-drying it for up to an hour, then letting it air-dry the rest of the way.
High-Quality Comforters and Duvet Covers From Parachute
In the market for a new bed cover? Explore the high-quality down and down-alternative duvet inserts and duvet covers from Parachute today!