How to wash a duvet

It’s not just the cover you need to clean. Find out how to wash a duvet and make sure your bedding is hygienic

John Lewis synthetic duvet
(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Putting the sheet, duvet cover and pillowcases in the washing machine is the easy part of getting bed linens clean. But there’s the duvet inside the cover to think about as well, and you might be wondering just how to wash a duvet. After all, this element of your bedding is bulky and comes with a variety of fillings that seem challenging to clean.

Getting to grips with the job is a must, though. When we sleep we lose half a pint of fluid each night and, in the course of a year, we shed a pound of dead skin cells, according to the Sleep Charity – and there’s only the cover to protect the duvet beneath from this onslaught. 

That‘s not all, of course. There’s plenty more on the list of things that mean you definitely will want to clean a duvet in addition to its cover. Think tea or coffee spills, bodily fluids, and the fact that many of us let pets on to the bed, adding their own contribution to the (unhygienic) party.

The bottom line? It’s vital to know how to wash your duvet, so you can keep all of your bedding hygienic and fresh. And for the inside track, all you need to do is scroll down.

Once you're done with the duvet, it's time to learn how to clean a washing machine

How to wash a duvet in a washing machine

Your first instinct is probably to put your duvet into the washing machine. It’s a good one, too, but there are a few things to bear in mind before you stuff the duvet into the drum and push the button.

First of all, check the duvet’s care label. Does it say it can be washed? If not, you’ll need to follow the instructions – likely to recommend taking it to a professional dry cleaner – to avoid unfortunate results. Duvets with synthetic fillings are often washable in a home washing machine, while those containing feather or down more frequently require dry cleaning. 

If the label does say that your duvet is machine washable, the next question is whether the washing machine’s drum is large enough to fit it. It’s important that the duvet can move around freely during the washing cycle. A washing machine with a 7kg drum capacity should be able to accommodate a double duvet but be aware that the tog rating also counts. If yours is a warm, high tog duvet, it may not be able to go into your home machine. The best course of action? Check your washing machine’s instructions.

All go for cleaning the duvet in the washing machine? Follow the instructions on the care label including when it comes to the temperature of the washing cycle. Use as high a temperature as the label recommends: at 60ºC dust mites are killed and this is particularly crucial for asthma and allergy sufferers.

For a synthetic filling, use your usual detergent or as stipulated by the care label. Got a feather or down duvet? Go for a non-bio detergent.

When the washing cycle has finished, make sure you shake the duvet out so the filling is distributed evenly. After that you’ll need to leave the duvet to dry thoroughly and completely before you put it back into a cover and on to the bed. You might be able to put it into the tumble dryer as an alternative, but always follow the instructions on the care label.

How to wash a duvet without a washing machine

If your duvet is too large for your home washing machine but is machine-washable, you can take it to a launderette with larger capacity machines. Some dry cleaners also offer a duvet-washing service along with dry cleaning for those duvets that can’t go into the machine.

What about other alternatives? Wondering how to wash a duvet in the bath? It’s not our recommended method, but it is possible. There’s a big BUT here, though. If your duvet’s care label says dry clean only, don’t try this method. 

You’ll need to fill the tub to around half way with warm water, then add detergent and agitate the water to mix it in. Remember to check the care label for the type of detergent that’s recommended for your duvet. Put the duvet into the water, then work the soapy water into it, making sure you’ve tackled every area. Some people recommend using (clean) feet to do this to avoid awkward bending over the bath. 

When you’re done, release the soapy water from the bath, and then rinse the duvet in clean water. You’ll need to repeat this until there’s no detergent remaining. After that, gently squeeze the water out, shake to distribute the filling evenly, and hang the duvet until it’s completely dry. 

How to wash a duvet naturally

We’d always recommend using a laundry detergent for cleaning your duvet and not creating your own recipe at home. But you can definitely use a natural detergent to get your bedding hygienic. Natural laundry detergents include plant-based ingredients, but the best still deliver the cleaning results you expect. As well as being eco-friendly, you could find they avoid the skin irritation other products may cause.  

How often should you wash a duvet?

Your duvet doesn’t need washing as regularly as your bed linen because it is protected by the cover. However, you should do it at least on an annual basis, and every six months is probably better especially for a duvet owner who has asthma or allergies.