How to Clean and Care for a Heavy Comforter

Bedroom
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Winter comforters often need more specialized care than lighter weight summer sheets and bedding. Most household washers and dryers aren't adequately sized to accommodate something as large as a winter weight comforter or quilt. If you do decide to wash your heavy bedding at home, you should use a front or top load washer (without a center agitator) to accommodate the bulk of the fabric.

For better results with less strain on your home appliances, pack up your winter linens and head to a laundromat. Thick comforters don't require frequent washings—cleaning once a year before storing should suffice.

How to Wash Heavy Winter Comforters
Detergent Heavy-duty liquid 
Water Temperature Cold or warm 
Cycle Type Regular
Drying Cycle Type Low heat
Special Treatments Wash large comforters alone
Iron Settings  Usually not needed

Project Metrics

Check the care labels on your bedding for cleaning instructions. If the comforter is washable and too large for your washer, a coin laundry is much less expensive than taking the items to a dry cleaner. While commercial-grade washers and dryers can handle up to 75 pounds of laundry, wash your comforter alone to reduce twisting and excess lint.

Working Time: One hour

Total Time: Three hours

Skill Level: Intermediate

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Heavy-duty liquid detergent
  • Solvent-based stain remover

Tools

  • Large capacity washer or Commercial-grade washer and dryer
  • Large table (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash

    Use either cold or warm water, set the washer for the largest load capacity, and select the delicate or gentle cycle. Use slightly less than the suggested detergent amount—too much soap is difficult to remove and can leave excess suds in the comforter fibers.

  2. Dry

    The comforter should be tumbled on low heat to help wrinkles release. Remove once the blanket is completely dry.

  3. Fold

If you fold or roll the bedding after removing it from the dryer, there should be no ironing required.

Use a Washable Cover for Easier Care

Using a duvet or comforter cover will make laundry day much more simple. The cover for a down comforter or pillows can be removed and washed weekly or as needed.

Rolled comforter
Olga Nikiforova​ / Getty Images  

Storing Heavy Comforters and Blankets

You can store heavy comforters and blankets in cotton or muslin bags or plastic storage containers. If possible, stow them underneath your bed, in a closet or another climate-controlled area of your house. Avoid storing your bedding in the basement or attic as temperature and humidity can fluctuate in these areas. Wash the bedding before packing it away to remove any oils and dirt that may cause discoloration. Be sure it's completely dry before storing to prevent mold and mildew from forming.

Treating Stains on Comforters

Spread out the comforter on your bed or folding table and check it for stains. Use a solvent-based stain remover like Zout or Shout to treat the stains. If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, you can try using a heavy-duty liquid detergent like Tide or Persil which contain enough enzymes to break apart stain molecules so they can be flushed away.

Apply the stain remover and work it in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to remain on the stain for at least 15 minutes before adding the comforter to the washer.

Repairs

If your comforter or blanket has a small rip or hole, usually it can be fixed by hand-stitching with a complimentary thread. Sometimes patching is necessary if the tear is significant. If you don't know how to hand-sew or patch, a professional tailor can assist you with any mending. If you'd like to continue using your repaired blanket but don't like the way it looks, purchase a duvet cover to mask the patching.

Wool and Down Bedding

Most down comforters and feather pillows can be washed at home or a laundromat. Be sure to read the care instructions and always use a mild detergent. Dry on low and include some wool dryer balls to help fluff the down and keep it from clumping.

As long as you refrain from using hot water in the washer or a high heat cycle in the dryer, most wool blankets can be laundered. Select cold water, a gentle cycle, and air dry in an electric dryer. Add a few towels (in a similar color) to the dryer to help absorb moisture and cut down on the drying time.

At laundry service.
M_a_y_a / Getty Images

Tips for Washing Winter Bedding

  • Electric blankets can be cleaned but require special care to prevent damage to the heating element.
  • Flannel sheets should be washed and dried separately to prevent them from depositing lint on other items. Dry on lower temperature settings and never over-dry which can cause wrinkles to set and colors to fade.
  • Liquid fabric softener can cause spotting on comforters and blankets. You can skip using softener if you add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle or try a fabric-softening and static reduction sheet in the dryer instead.
  • Airing white comforters outside on sunny days will help brighten their appearance and help remove odors. Colorful bedding can also benefit from fresh air, but keep it in the shade to avoid fading.