How to Wash and Clean Heavy Winter Bedding

The right way to wash comforters, blankets, quilts, and flannel sheets

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Nothing feels better on a cold winter night than a warm, cozy bed. But winter bedding often needs a bit more special care than lighter weight summer sheets and bedding to keep it soft and snuggly. 

Big Bedding Needs Big Washers & Dryers

Unless you have purchased commercial-sized appliances, most household washers and dryers aren't adequately sized to accommodate something as large as a thick, winter weight queen or king-size comforter or quilt. If you do decide to wash at home, you should use a front load washer or high-efficiency top load washer without a center agitator to accommodate the bulk of the fabric. For better and faster cleaning results and with less strain on your home appliances, pack up your heavy, big linens and head to a coin laundry. Commercial-grade washers and dryers can handle up to 75 pounds of laundry. 

Check the care labels on your bedding for cleaning instructions. If the bedding is washable, a coin laundry is much less expensive than taking the items to a dry cleaner. When you're ready to wash, take advantage of the large folding tables to spread out the comforter and check it for specific stains. Use a solvent -based stain remover like Zout or Shout or Spray 'n Wash. If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent like Tide or Persil (these are leading high-performance brands that contain the necessary enzymes to break apart the stain molecules). Apply the stain remover and work it in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before adding the comforter to the washer.

Use either cold or warm water and set the washer for the largest load capacity. Measure the detergent carefully so you don't overdose and leave excess detergent in the comforter fibers that don't get rinsed away. Be sure to wash the comforter alone to reduce lint from flannel sheets or towels.

The comforter should be tumbled on low heat to help wrinkles release. Check frequently so that you don't over dry but to make sure that it is completely dry before placing back on the bed. If you fold or roll it after removing it from the dryer there should be no ironing required.

At laundry service.
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The Low Down on Cleaning Down

Contrary to popular belief, most down comforters and feather pillows can be washed at home or at a coin laundry. Be sure to read the care instructions and always use a mild detergent. When drying, put some wool dryer balls or clean tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff the down and keep it from clumping.

To keep down pillows and comforters looking and smelling their best, but sure to use a duvet and pillow covers which can be washed weekly or as needed. These are much easier to wash than a down-filled item.

Putting on a duvet cover can be daunting. But you can use this simple method that makes it an easy one person job.

Cleaning a Pillow for My Head

If you don't have down pillows, but rather foam or polyester fill pillows, you can still wash those at home to keep them smelling fresh all winter long.

Skip the Fabric Softener

Some textiles, such as down comforters, have a tendency to absorb liquid fabric softener unevenly causing spotting. Use a fabric-softening and static reduction sheet in the dryer instead. Fabric-softening sheets leave a thin film on the exterior of textiles that prevents static electricity. It also makes the material feel softer.

Washable Wool Blankets?

Most wool blankets can be laundered. Use cold water, a gentle cycle and air dry or tumble on air only in an electric dryer. Add a few towels to the dryer to help absorb moisture and cut down on the drying time.

Electric Blankets

Even blankets that have a power source for heating can be cleaned at home if done carefully. Learn how.

Flannel Is More Than a Shirt

Wash and dry flannel sheets separately, as they like to deposit lint on other items. Dry on lower temperature settings and never over-dry which can cause wrinkles to set and colors to fade.

Foam Mattress Pads

A little padding can make a mattress much more comfortable. Learn how to clean thin foam mattresses or pads.