How to Wash a Comforter to Prevent Dust Mites and Keep It Soft

Written by on August 17, 2023

comforter on top of washing machine


With mattress pads, sheets, comforters, pillow shams and duvet covers, washing bedding can get complicated! Find out how to wash a comforter the right way—and how often.

It’s good practice to wash your bed sheets weekly—but what about your comforter? It isn’t as close to your body as your sheets or pillowcases, but it still can collect dust mites, stains and dead skin cells over time. Similar to washing pillows, though, you might not know where to start.

We’re sharing everything you need to know about how to wash a comforter (including the more fussy down-filled version) because there’s nothing quite as comforting as slipping into cool, clean bedding at the end of a long day.

How Often Should You Wash Your Comforter?

Generally, you should wash a comforter filled with cotton, polyester or a down alternative about every month. If you have pets that sleep in your bed or you suffer from allergies, you might want to increase the frequency. If your comforter is protected by a separate duvet cover (common for down comforters) it only needs to be washed about twice a year, but be sure to watch the duvet cover every week or two.

How to Wash a Comforter

Tools You’ll Need

  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover (if needed)
  • Large capacity or commercial washer and dryer
  • Tennis balls or wool dryer balls


Step 1: Shake

Shake out your comforter to get rid of any loose dirt or crumbs and to evenly distribute the filling before washing.

Step 2: Spot treat

For any visible stains, apply stain remover. OxiClean Max Force Foam Laundry Pre-Treater is highly-reviewed and safe to use on your bedding. Apply to stains and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Machine wash

Be sure your washer is large enough to handle a fluffy comforter (at least 5 cubic feet) so the comforter has room to agitate while it washes. Place the comforter loosely in the washer. Then set the wash cycle to bulky, bedding or delicate wash, depending on what settings are available on your particular washing machine. Wash on cold or warm water and use a fragrance-free detergent, which is gentle on fabric and your skin.

Step 4: Dry

Like the washer, your dryer also needs to be sufficiently sized to allow the comforter to tumble-dry; it should be at least 7 cubic feet. Place the comforter in the dryer, spreading it out as much as possible. If smashed into a tight wad, it will not dry evenly. Add two to three tennis balls or wool dryer balls. These will help fluff the comforter while it dries and prevent the filling from bunching together and making it lumpy. Set the heat on low.

If your dryer isn’t large enough, hang dry the comforter indoors or outside.

How to Wash a Down Comforter

A down comforter is filled with fluffy feathers, literally duck or geese feathers. To prolong the life of a down comforter, it should be protected with a duvet cover and shouldn’t be washed as often as other types of comforters; usually twice a year is sufficient.

Fortunately, many down comforters are safe to machine wash and can be put in the dryer too—but check the care label for any recommended settings. You can follow the same steps for washing a regular comforter (unless the care label notes that it should be professionally laundered). Between washings, spot clean by applying a gentle detergent directly to the stain and then rinse with a damp cloth.

Tips for Proper Care and Maintenance

  • When drying, sometimes it’s a good idea to stop the dryer midway through the cycle and give the comforter a good shake, then place it back in the dryer to finish the drying process. This helps prevent any damp spots getting trapped in the folds.
  • Store comforters loosely folded on a shelf or inside a cotton bag in a breathable space to prevent musky smells and mildew.
  • To re-fluff a comforter without washing it, run it through the dryer on a heatless air-fluff cycle.
  • If your washer and dryer are not large enough for your comforter, take it to a professional cleaner. A down comforter should be professionally laundered, not dry cleaned. Harsh dry-cleaning chemicals can damage the down.


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