Are Your Down Linens Ready for Winter?

Fall is the season to get your down linens ready for the upcoming winter. You can hire a dry cleaner to prep your down-filled linens. Often, you can wash them if the label says it is okay. The secret to success is to dry the bed linens thoroughly after washing them.

This September day is perfect for getting my down linens ready for winter. I washed the comforter at the end of Spring and need to fluff it.

This September day is perfect for getting my down comforter ready for winter. I washed it at the end of Spring and need to fluff it. (c) Terrie Brockmann

Do all linens need washing?

Inspect your linens before washing them. Generally, if your down comforter has a duvet cover, you may not need to clean it yearly. If you do not have a removable cover on your comforter, you should wash the comforter yearly. 


Will any washing machine work?

Only use front-loading washers to wash your down linens. The tumbling action is gentler than the agitation in top-loading washing machines. This is why linen experts do not advise people to use top-loading washing machines. Even on the gentle cycle, the agitation causes the down to clump together. Often, it will tear the comforter cover.


Should I take it to a Laundromat?

Most household size washers are not big enough to agitate a comforter. If you go to a Laundromat, use the front-loading washers. The large capacity ones generally can handle the comforter without crushing the down.


What if I don’t want to use the Laundromat?

Your bathtub is an alternative to the Laundromat. You need to be careful when using this method. It is easy to apply too much detergent and not rinse the linens sufficiently in the bathtub. Use plenty of lukewarm water and a tiny amount of mild detergent.

Wash the linens by “dancing” them in the water. Use the same up-and-down and side-to-side motion to rinse them thoroughly. Change the water and repeat the rinsing. Your final rinse should have clear and soap-free water.


Is drying the linens important?

Down-filled linens can mold if you do not dry them thoroughly. Unlike washing the linens, you can use the top-loading washing machine to help dry the linens. Place the wet item in the washer and choose the “spin and drain” cycle. Do not use the “rinse” cycle. That cycle can damage your linens.

If your home dryer is large enough to handle the large bed linens, tumble them on low heat for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Check the linens every half hour because they tend to roll into a ball when tumbling in the dryer. The down-filled linens dry quicker if you place some clean, dry towels in the dryer with the wet items. Change to drier towels every half hour.

Draping a comforter over a clothesline is a good way to freshen it.

Draping a comforter over a clothesline is a good way to freshen it. (c) Terrie Brockmann

If you have an outdoor clothesline, hang your comforter outdoors and let nature dry it. A windy day is more effective. With comforters, you may need to hang them out on two or three days to dry them completely. I often dry them outdoors for the full day and finish them in the dryer.


Do not use plastic bags to pack the linens into plastic bags for at least 48 hours after drying them. This ensures that the down is completely dry. Storing linens in plastic can cause mold growth.


What if my linens are clean?

Sometimes, to get your down linens ready you only need to air them out. They are clean but a little stale. I hang my linens on the outdoor clothesline on a sunny, windy day. The breezy air fluffs the down and the fresh air removes the staleness. Or you can fluff your linens in the dryer. Add a lavender sachet on a low heat setting if you want scented linens.


How do I store my down-filled linens?

Do not use plastic bags to pack the linens into plastic bags for at least 48 hours. The down needs to be completely dry. Store them wrapped in a sheet if you must cover them. Plastic doesn’t breathe and holds in the slightest amount of moisture.


What about my feather pillows?

Feather pillows need special attention because they become dirtier more often.  Natural hair oils, hair styling materials, and other dirt filter through pillowcases and soil the pillows. Experts advise that you wash your feather pillows every few months. I have a removable pillow cover under my pillowcase to protect my pillows.


Why get your down linens ready for winter?

All bed linens harbor dead skin cells and dust mites. Frequently, these cause allergies. Do you have a runny nose in the night or in the morning? Sinus problems, headaches, or other symptoms may be a sign that you need to wash your pillows. This is true for synthetic materials as well as down-filled ones.


Take advantage of Autumn’s warm, breezy days and drape your down-filled linens outdoors. Even if you do not wash them, you can revive them with the fresh air. Fall is the perfect time to get your winter linens ready for cold nights.



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