How to Wash and Clean Stains from Down Comforter

We've all been in a situation where we need to clean a down comforter because it has a nasty little stain on it. The down stains come from a variety of sources like sweat, spills, and more. Don't fret because cleaning down can be done, but you need to be careful. This technique is also good for down sleeping bags and down jackets of high quality.

Stain on a down comforter

Be warned off the bat that you don't want to just throw a dirty down comforter into the washer and dryer like you would other common bed spreads. Down is typically made of tiny goose feathers and these require special attention, so that you don't damage them when cleaning down. Here is what we would recommend to clean down in a simple and effective manner. 

Cleaning Stains from Down Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Treat the stain with a pre-wash spray like Spray-n-wash or a light covering of standard detergent
  2. If using a light covering of detergent, don't use much; roughly a teaspoon depending on the size of the stain on the down
  3. Use specialized cleaner for down. I would recommend those produced by the company nixwax
  4. Be sure to use a front-loading washer to clean stains from down comforters. Do Not use a top loading washer with an agitator because this will damage the item
  5. Hang dry after washing for 6-12 hours with good air circulation
  6. Declump the down with your fingers. Some of the down will clump into damp collections. You need to break apart the down manually.
  7. Continue to air dry and declump the down until dry

Avoid Top Loading Washing Machines for Down Jackets and Down Sleeping Bags Too

This techinque should be a reliable way to clean stains from down comforters without damaging them. Many people make the mistake of putting a down comforter into a top loading washer with an agitator, which can tear the down comforter or break down the interior separator pockets that keep the various sections of down separated withing the comforter. 

I remember actually having to go to a local laundromat to do this because I didn't have access to a front loading washing machine.

Air Dry Down Comforters and Down Jackets

The other common mistake that people make is not air drying. Putting a down comforter or sleeping bag directly into a dryer can severly damage the items by degrading the down. In fact, the down will lose some of it's insulating and warming ability if it is damaged in a dryer. This is very important to avoid if you are washing a high quality item that is used in the back country for survival like a down sleeping bag or jacket for climbing and skiing expeditions.