Washing products containing down

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.

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. However, duvets with a silk shell should be sent to the dry-cleaner. 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! Nevertheless, we always recommend that eider down duvets be dry-cleaned, but the reason for this is, in particular, that there may be differences in the way the shell and the fill should be treated and that it would also be particularly frustrating if the fill does not dry properly. And this is the most important rule when it comes to washing of down: Make sure that the fill is dry!

Wash the down duvet in a washing machine (for at least 7 kg) at 60 °C. Spin-dry well and then tumble-dry at 80 to 90 °C with a couple of tennis balls. Note that it may often take more than 4 hours until the fill is completely dry. Just like wool, feathers and down can absorb moisture without feeling wet, and if the down is taken out too early, the duvet will start going mouldy. Take the duvet out of the dryer and shake it once every half an hour while drying in order to turn and redistribute the fill. This will also help you identify when the duvet is finally dry before it starts overheating.

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.

Down pillows are washed in regular washing machines (for at least 5 kg), but watch out – pillows are certainly smaller than duvets, but they often have just as much fill. And again, set aside time for washing and drying. Some moisture-operated dryers (without time settings) may stop immediately because the surface of the pillow is dry, but if you add a moist tea towel, the dryer will continue to run until the tea towel – and thereby also the pillow – is thoroughly dry.

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.