How to Clean and Care for a Heavy Comforter

Someone folding a comforter

​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Winter comforters and heavy blankets 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 heavy comforter or quilt. If you do decide to wash this kind of bedding at home, use a front or top load washer (without a center agitator) to accommodate the bulk of the fabric.

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

How Often to Clean a Heavy Comforter

Thick comforters don't usually require frequent washings—cleaning once a year before storing for the off-season should suffice. Check the care labels on your bedding for cleaning instructions. If the comforter is washable but too large for your washer, using a coin-operated laundromat once a year is much less expensive than taking the item to a dry cleaner. While commercial-grade machines can handle up to 75 pounds of laundry, wash and dry your comforter alone to reduce twisting, prevent excessive lint, and completely dry the material.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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

Materials

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

Instructions

Bottles of laundry care products
The Spruce / Ana Cadena
How to Wash a Heavy Comforter
Detergent Heavy-duty liquid 
Water Temperature Cold or warm 
Cycle Type Regular
Drying Cycle Type Low heat
Special Treatments Wash alone
Iron Settings  Usually not needed
  1. Pre-Treat Stains

    Spread out the comforter on your bed or 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 contains 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 putting the comforter in the washer.

    Someone pre-treating stains on a comforter
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Select the Water Temperature and Washer Cycle

    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's fibers.

    Warning

    Liquid fabric softener can cause spotting on comforters and blankets. You can skip using softener if you add 1 cup distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle, or try a fabric-softening and static reduction sheet in the dryer instead.

    Someone adjusting the washer settings
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  3. Shake and Dry

    Do your best to give the comforter a good shake to help remove wrinkles before placing it in the dryer. The comforter should be tumbled on low heat. Remove once it's completely dry.

    Airing white comforters outside on sunny days will help brighten their appearance and remove odors. Colorful bedding can also benefit from fresh air, but keep it in the shade to avoid fading.

    Someone shaking a comforter after it comes out of the dryer
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Fold

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

    Someone folding a comforter
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

Storing Heavy Comforters and Blankets

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 in another climate-controlled area of your home. Avoid storing your bedding in the basement or attic, where temperature and humidity can fluctuate. Before packing bedding away, wash it 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.

Repairs

If your comforter or blanket has a small rip or hole, it can usually be repaired by hand. Sometimes, patching by a professional tailor is necessary if the tear is significant. If you'd like to continue using your repaired piece but don't like the way it looks, purchase a duvet cover to mask the patching.

Treating Stains on a Comforter

If you notice that you missed a stain—or a stain didn't come out after washing your comforter—try a spot cleaning method. Remove blood, other bodily fluids, or food stains with a small amount of a paste made from baking soda and water. Rub the paste only on the spot, and use a damp, clean white cloth to blot up the baking soda. Use a dry cloth to blot up the moisture, and then use a blow dryer on the spot. If baking soda doesn't work, try the same method using equal amounts of white vinegar and water.

Tips for Washing a Heavy Comforter

Down: Most down comforters and feather pillows can be washed at home or at a laundromat. Be sure to read the care instructions and follow these tips:

  • Always use a mild detergent.
  • Dry on low temperature.
  • Use wool dryer balls to help fluff the down and keep it from clumping.


Wool: 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. Use the following tips for best results:

  • Select cold water.
  • Use a gentle cycle.
  • Air-dry (no heat) in a tumble dryer.
  • Add a few towels (in a similar color to avoid color transfer) to the dryer to help absorb moisture and cut down on the drying time.