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How to clean a comforter

How to clean a comforter: Two men change their bed, lifting the comforter ready for cleaning
(Image credit: Getty)

Learning how to clean a comforter properly is something all of us need to do, as it can make a huge difference to keeping pesky dust mites and bed bugs at bay, not to mention dealing with all that dead skin and sweat build-up. Even the best comforters need cleaning from time to time, but the material it's made from will determine how hard or easy it is to clean. 

If your comforter has a synthetic filling, it should be fairly easy to machine wash and many can be tumble dried too. However, one of the main concerns with machine cleaning a comforter is that the filling will stick together, leaving it feeling lumpy. 

Other comforters with natural fills, such as wool or feather, can also be cleaned, but these need a little extra care. We take a look at the ins and outs of how to clean your comforter. In this guide on how to clean a comforter, we walk you through the process step by step, and look at how to clean different materials too.

For other ways to enjoy fresh and healthy sleep, check out our guide to the top mattresses online, as well as the best bed toppers for maximum comfort.

How to clean a comforter: Why it's important

Anything that sits next to your skin as you sleep should be washed regularly, whether that’s your pajamas, bedsheets or your favorite pillow for sleeping. Not only will this fabric quickly get dirty from your sweat and natural oils, it provides a place for allergens to settle, as well as for dust mites to breed.

How to clean a comforter: A woman with dark hair lays on her stomach on a cream colored comforter, arms outstretched

(Image credit: Getty/Robert Daly)

These little critters love nothing more than feasting on dead skin, before leaving droppings (twice their size!) that will only worsen your allergies. One of the best ways to keep nasties at bay is by washing your bedsheets, duvet cover and pillowcases once a week. You could also invest in a breathable, hypoallergenic bed, as covered in our best cooling mattress guide.

If you aren't using your comforter with a duvet cover, place a bedsheet between you and the comforter, then wash this sheet once a week. You will then only need to wash your comforter every six to 12 months. If you are using the comforter next to your skin, it will need to be washed weekly.

How to clean a comforter in five easy steps

Washing a comforter is a household chore that many of us tend to put off. After all, who wants to deal with washing a large cumbersome item that may or may not survive a cycle in the machine? However, it may not be as tricky as it seems, as long as you always read the label, and follow the instructions precisely.

Generally, it will be easier to wash a comforter with a synthetic fill, and these can often be machine dried too. Here are some steps you can follow to help you clean your synthetic-fill comforter:

Step 1: Read the label. This will tell you what your comforter is filled with and the best way to wash it. Not all comforters need to be dry cleaned

Step 2: Treat stubborn stains first. You can spot clean accidental spillages before you send it off for dry-cleaning or place it in the machine.

Step 3: Make sure loose threads are snipped or tears are fixed before washing, in case they get further damaged.

Step 4: Make sure your washing machine is big enough. There should be some spare room for the comforter to move around inside the machine. If you struggle to fit it in, then consider taking your comforter to a laundromat.

Step 5: Go gently! This applies to the washing machine cycle as well as the detergent. The cycle should be cold or gentle, while the detergent should be natural or mild.

If you decided your current comforter has seen better days, here are three of our favorites to consider instead...

For cleaning appliance inspiration, also check out our guide to the best front load washers, and the best dryers with large capacity drums.

How to clean a comforter: A man with short brown hair pulls laundry from a washer dryer

(Image credit: Getty/Westend61)

How to wash a comforter without it getting lumpy

One of the risks of washing your comforter in the machine is that the filling could clump together, meaning your comforter will come out lumpy and uneven. If you go for a lower-grade fill, then this is more likely to happen. 

However, there are plenty of affordable comforters with decent-quality filling that shouldn’t bunch upon washing. You can also follow these steps to help prevent clumps:

Step 1: Make sure your washing machine is big enough – the bigger the machine the more room the comforter has to move around. We'd recommend a good top load washer with lashings of space.

Step 2: Use a front-loading washing machine if possible. The twisting action of a top-loader is more likely to cause your comforter to clump. If you have a top loader, consider taking your comforter to the laundromat instead.

Step 3: Select an extra spin cycle to make as much water is squeezed out as possible. After washing, shake out your comforter to make sure the filling stays even.

Step 4: If you want to dry the comforter in a tumble dryer, make sure it is large enough, and use a low heat setting, with a couple of dryer balls (or tennis balls). Check every so often to make sure the comforter isn’t getting too hot.

Step 5: Make sure the comforter is completely dry before storing.

How to clean a comforter: A lady with short blonde hair smiles while laying on a bed clutching her comforter

(Image credit: Getty/LWA)

How to clean a down comforter or duvet

If you prefer the cosiness of an all-natural down duvet, it’s worth knowing they may need to be cleaned in a different way to their synthetic counterparts. As ever, read the label first and follow the instructions exactly. The following is also advised:

Step 1: Limit washing your down comforter or duvet to once a year. Using a duvet cover or placing a sheet between you and the comforter will keep your bed fresher for longer.

Step 2: If your comforter can be machine washed, make sure the machine is large enough and that your comforter can fit with plenty of room without being folded or creased. 

Step 3: Adding tennis balls placed in socks provides gentle friction so that sweat, oil and dirt can be more easily removed from the fabric.

Step 4: Use gentle washing detergent only, along with a gentle cycle on the machine. Make sure the comforter is properly rinsed - soap can cause down to clump.

Step 5: If you dry your comforter in a machine, use the lowest setting. You can also put the tennis balls (in socks) in with the comforter, as this will ensure the feathers stay fluffy. Check every 30 minutes to make sure your comforter isn’t getting too hot.

Step 6: Make sure it is thoroughly dry before using it or storing it away.

While you're at it, why not spruce up the rest of your bed with our tips on how to clean pillows for fresher sleep, and how to clean a mattress properly. 

How to clean a comforter without a washer

If your comforter is too big for your machine, or it needs to be spot cleaned by hand,  there are still ways you can keep your comforter fresh and hygienic.

Spot cleaning is best for any obvious spills, but if you want to freshen up the entire comforter, gently submerge it in the bath tub, making sure you use only mild detergent and cold water. 

A man fluffs up the comforter on his bed after cleaning it

(Image credit: Getty)

Do not wring or distort the comforter in any way, but gently press on it, before letting it sit for ten minutes in the water.

You should then drain the bath, gently pressing out as much excess water as you can from the comforter. When this is done, fill the bath again with cold water to rinse the fabric, press and drain as before. Repeat these steps until the water runs clear and is free of suds.

How to dry a comforter at home

Drying a comforter isn’t always practical and takes a little bit of planning. But after washing, the comforter must be completely dry before you store it or place a duvet cover over it, otherwise it will be prone to mold and other nasties.

While some comforters can be dried in a tumble dryer, this should always be done on a low heat setting, and check every 30 minutes or so in case the comforter feels too hot. Placing tennis balls in the dryer also helps with the drying process and keeps the fill from clumping. If there’s room, you can also place a towel in with the comforter to speed things up.

If you do not have a machine for drying (check out our recommendations for good washer dryer combos), you can dry your comforter naturally outdoors. In fact, sunlight is a great way to kill off any lingering dust mites and make sure your comforter is properly aired and dried.

To overhaul your bed for less, check out our round-ups of the latest Purple mattress sales and promo codes, the biggest Saatva mattress sales and discounts, and this month's Casper mattress sales and promo codes.