How to wash your down duvet or pillow

We spend one-third of our lives in bed, without giving much thought to the maintenance of our duvets and pillows. How are they actually faring, and wouldn’t they benefit from a little “touch-up”?

Every night, we give off more than ½ litre of fluid, some by exhalation but most in the form of perspiration. Part of it is absorbed by the bed linen and then by the duvet and pillow, eventually causing the down in their fill to lump together. The duvet gets heavier, its insulating power deteriorates, stains form on the shell, and in the end, you have no other choice than to turn on the washing machine. Many people are nervous about washing their down products, but there is nothing “scary” about that – just keep in mind that it takes time – this is not something you can do in a jiffy.

The Ten Commandments on Washing and Drying

You are supposed to wash your duvet and pillow just like you wash your clothes – only not even nearly as often. We recommend about twice a year or as needed.

We always refer to the washing instructions for the particular product. Note that silk products, for example, need to be treated differently. But when it comes to most cotton products, there are ten things you need to know before you get going:

  1. Plan the washing on a day when you will be at home anyway, perhaps for your annual spring-cleaning. The washing and drying will take up most of the day
  2. Both your duvet and your pillow need a washing machine and a tumble dryer with a capacity of at least 7 kg for an ordinary duvet and 5 kg for a pillow
  3. Always wash your duvet and pillow at 60 degrees to make sure they are properly clean
  4. Always wash them separately, one at a time. You could perhaps do it on two different days
  5. Use enzyme-free laundry detergent. We recommend using our Ringsted Dun down detergent, which is also asthma-friendly and non-allergenic
  6. Washing time itself is the same as for a regular 60-degree wash, but drying will be longer
  7. We recommend that you take the duvet or pillow out of the tumble dryer once in a while to shake and air it up. This will help the fill get redistributed, and the machine will be able to take a breather. Do this approximately once every half an hour during the four hours that are the minimum drying time until your duvet or pillow is properly dry
  8. If your machine switches off once the surface of the duvet or pillow is dry (which is, after all, what is required for drying regular clothes), you can “trick” the dryer to continue working using a wet towel. This will extend the drying time until the fill is dry – also in the very middle of the pillow
  9. Are your pillow and duvet dry now? If you think that they are dry, let them cool off and air a bit on a guard rail or a drying rack before you “pack” them into your bed linen and make your bed
  10. If you do not have a washing machine and a dryer who can do the job – nor an opportunity or time, do not hesitate: most dry cleaners will be able to lend you a hand. As a rule, they have both the equipment and expertise for this

Does washing damage the duvet?

As a rule, the shell is made in a strong, down-proof fabric that is 100 % cotton, so it is easily washable.  And it goes without saying that down and feathers can tolerate water – the birds they come from, geese and ducks, spend more time in water than on land!

However, products with eiderdown or silk must always be cleaned professionally, as it requires careful wet cleaning.

The most important rule when it comes to washing of down: Make sure that the fill is dry!

A little trick: Weigh the duvet before you put it into the washing machine. Note down the weight. When you think the duvet has stayed long enough in the dryer, weigh it again. If the duvet weighs more than before, it is not ready yet.

Also keep in mind that the washing detergent should be enzyme-free as enzymes cause damage to the pillow’s protective lanolin layer. Ringsted Dun has created a special detergent for washing of down. Follow the dosing instructions for the detergent and the washing instructions on the pillow’s/duvet’s care label.

So do not be afraid of washing – just don’t do it too often. It goes without saying that a weekly wash will eventually will wear holes into the shell and make the down lose its elasticity.