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After years of working closely with head housekeepers in some of the most luxurious hotels around the world, we have accumulated tried and true tips for keeping a bed clean for a great night’s sleep. The question is not whether to launder, but how to launder a mattress and bedding properly. Spring is the perfect time to freshen and refresh your bedding.

Sheets and Pillowcases are Pretty Straightforward

For the most part, quality sheets such as Down Etc’s 100% cotton Tuxedo Paisley and Swirl Floral Jacquard collections can be washed according to label instructions in your home washing machine and many washing machines have settings specifically for sheets.  It is best to wash your sheets in a load by themselves. The fabric content of your sheets makes a difference: cotton may shrink in hot water, colors can bleed when washed with whites, and delicate fabrics like sateen can be damaged if not washed on a gentle setting. Generally speaking, the label will tell you how to proceed. Sheets should not be washed with other fabrics, particularly terry toweling as terry can be rough on sheets and will likely have a different drying time.

Down Comforters Require a Bit More Effort

Although Down Etc’s Goose Down Comforters can be more expensive than other types of comforters, with proper care, they can last you a lifetime, meaning they will actually save you money over other products that don't exhibit the same durability and require replacement more frequently. Of course, you will have to learn how to clean your comforters appropriately if you want to ensure continued benefits for years to come. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy a clean, warm, and durable product for quite a while.

Fluffing the Fill

The down in your comforter is best able to fulfill its function of keeping you warm when it is properly fluffed, but it can sink and settle over time. So, part of your care routine should be fluffing it every so often. If you keep your comforter on your bed, it is easy enough to fluff by giving it a simple shake. But if you store it in a linen closet during warmer months, you will not only want to air it out but also allow several hours for it to expand after being compressed. Make sure to store your down comforter in a breathable bag rather than an airtight one. This will lessen the chance that moisture in your comforter could lead to mildew.


Any comforter can become soiled with use. And whether you are dealing with general dinginess or your comforter has been stained by spilled food, filthy pets, or other substances, it's not a bad idea to pretreat before you wash to ensure that your comforter comes out spotless. You can accomplish this by soaking stains in a mild detergent like Woolite or using standard stain treatments before washing. Bleach can be used on white comforters, but if you do not want to discolor the fabric, you should use a bleach pen that allows you to isolate the area where the stain has set in. Bleach over time damages feathers and the ticking fabric your comforter is covered in. Read the care label on your comforter before washing it to guarantee you maximize the manufacturer’s guidelines. To be sure that half of your fill does not end up in your washer or dryer, it is best to check all the seams and the comforter in general for any damage or thinning spots before you clean it. This way you can make any necessary repairs (reinforcing seams, adding patches, etc.) before you wash. By doing your due diligence, you will avoid a catastrophic mess in your laundry room.

Depending on the size of your comforter, you may want to consider taking it to a laundromat, where commercial machines can handle the load better than your small consumer machine. If you do not have a front-loading washing machine, you will certainly want to take your comforter to the laundromat. Either way, you will want to check the settings. To avoid damaging your comforter, make sure to choose a gentle cycle and select an extra rinse and spin to get all the suds out before you dry. When choosing your detergent, select a product that is free of dyes and fragrances. Instead, choose one that has enzymes that lock onto stains to remove them. You can also choose to dry clean your comforter, but it is not necessary.

If you are nervous about taking proper care of your down (or other) comforter, your washing machine isn't big enough to handle the load, or your comforter simply isn't all that soiled, you should think about taking it in for dry cleaning or simply using a home dry cleaning kit as an alternative to traditional cleaning methods.


The fastest way to damage your down comforter is to allow moisture to take root, leading to mildew that can be smelly and potentially harmful to your health. You might think this step is as simple as throwing everything in the dryer, but you need to be careful when it comes to drying your bedding. While the average comforter could be done in just one cycle, down must be dried on a low heat setting (so as not to burn the delicate down) and it could take several hours to get completely dry. You cannot allow any moisture to remain because it can lead to mildew, so drying is an important aspect of the cleaning process. We suggest adding dryer balls or a pair of clean tennis shoes to the dryer to help keep the down evenly distributed. Another option is to hang your comforter out to dry. And a good way to tell when it is done, even if you cannot feel any more dampness, is to give it a sniff. Wet down can smell a little bit like a wet pet, so you will know when it is dry.

down comforters

Your Pillow Is Where You Lay Your Head

The choice and care of your pillow is important. Select high quality sleeping pillows such as Down Etc’s All White Goose Down Pillow or 50% Down/50% Feather Pillow for durability. Look for details such as German piping, which creates a nice edge and strengthens seams. Always use pillow encasements. These will protect your pillows from the inevitable contaminants resulting from regular use. It is far easier to remove a protector for washing than it is to wash the pillow.  When protectors become soiled, you should remove them from the pillows and wash them inside out so that any feathers inside are washed and removed in the dryer. If your protectors have zippers, close these before washing to avoid ripping.

Down sleeping pillows can be washed if your washer and dryer will accommodate their bulk. You should wash your down pillows following the same instructions for washing your down comforter. However, whether you wash them regularly or not, pillows can quickly become soiled from use and environmental contaminants, making them lumpy or causing them to lose the loft that provides proper support for your head and neck. At the very least, you'll want to replace them annually. Check for fabric stains that will not go away as these spots can weaken the fabric and ultimately lead to tearing. Loose seams and feathers that are escaping are signs of pillows in need of replacement. Never overload the washer or dryer. Pillows when wet take on weight and can stress the machine.

Decorative pillows should also be cleaned regularly, but caution is needed here. It’s probably best to dry clean these. If you remove the cover, you can check on the contents of the pillow itself. Polyester and other synthetics might not wash well and tend to clump. Down can be washed, but never while inside the cover. Fabrics embellished with embroidery or beading should not be washed, but dry cleaned only. If you have pulled the outside tag off your pillow and cannot remember the care required, be safe and dry clean.

The Mattress Is At the Base of It All

If you are like most people, you have probably never cleaned your mattress, or even considered it. The benchmark for mattress replacement is about 8-10 years. You have probably heard that flipping the mattress annually (provided it is not a pillow-top or other product that cannot be flipped), is recommended for even wearing. What you may not know is that there is more you can do to maintain the condition of your mattress.

We strongly suggest the use of a mattress encasement to protect your investment in a new mattress from contaminants, including bed bugs. We highly recommend our OnGuard® encasements, which fully protect the mattress and make any bed bugs that attempt to reach the mattress easier to see.  Use of an encasement on an existing mattress will also help in the elimination of a bed bug problem in that it will trap any existing bed bugs, which will then starve and die. 

Next, you should protect the mattress with a mattress pad. If you have children or pets, we recommend a waterproof mattress pad. Down Etc’s LilyPads® mattress pads are not only waterproof but also motionless and silky soft, providing a perfect base for your bottom sheet. You can choose a mattress pad with elastic anchor bands or a fitted skirt to keep it in its proper place. The mattress pad should be laundered at least every other linen change or more often if it becomes soiled. If you have pets who like to lie on the bed and the mattress pads and sheets are in the laundry, lay a towel or sheet over the bed to avoid them shedding directly on your mattress.

In addition, we suggest you vacuum your mattress regularly when you change your sheets or wash your mattress pad. After vacuuming, you can spot clean with appropriate products and sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the mattress to absorb oils, odors, and any wetness from spot cleaning. Let the baking soda sit for an hour or so while your linens are washing and then vacuum it up before you remake your bed. This should keep your mattress clean and smelling fresh for years.

Around the Bed

Do not forget to clean the headboard, bed rails, and area underneath the bed frequently in order to keep your sleeping area free of dust, dander, and other allergens. This can be accomplished very easily with the right vacuum hose attachments and a dust cloth for hard surfaces. If you keep books, flowers, or creams and lotions on your bedside table, shake things out and vacuum and dust before stripping the bed so that the dust does not fall on your bare mattress or fresh bedding. 

Keeping It Green

For households that value environmental protection, as well as those that are dealing with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, green cleaning options exist. Your linens are easy enough as there are plenty of non-toxic detergents on the market. You can even find eco-friendly dry-cleaning services in many areas. If allergies are a problem, a HEPA filter vacuum should help you suck up even the most minuscule contaminants lurking in the creases of your mattress. Do not forget, you can start with organic bedding, including sheets and pillows, to reduce allergens right off the bat. With proper effort and information, your bed and bedding can remain nearly as clean, safe, and comfortable as the day you bought it.

Spring is the perfect time to air out and freshen your bedding.

Updated Links July 28, 2022

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