How to wash a duvet or down comforter – and how often should you clean it

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

How to wash a duvet - John Lewis synthetic duvet
(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Wondering how to wash a duvet? We've got you with this in-depth guide.

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. Now you know that lovely info, maybe you'd rather just consult our best duvet guide so you don't have nightmares.

Martha Stewart agrees, 'Your duvet, that fluffy bed covering that keeps you warm on chilly nights, can have a long and happy life if you take care of it properly. That's why laundering a duvet and its soft, comfy insert is a job that needs to be handled correctly. After all, your duvet is far more than just something to snuggle under for warmth—it's also a decorative accessory that contributes to your bed's status as the room's focal point.'

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.

spring bedding

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How to wash a duvet or down comforter in a washing machine

Your first instinct when thinking about how to wash a duvet is to pop it in 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. 

Is it possible to wash your down comforter in the washer? Well, you absolutely can but we recommend using a front loading washing machine, like the ones you'd find at a laundromat.

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? Here's how to wash your duvet in the washer.

  • 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/comforter? 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.

Bedroom bed leaf print green pink crittal style window bedding wall art pillow duvet

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

How to wash a duvet or down comforter 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 laundromat 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. 

Without further ado, here's how to wash your duvet or down comforter without using a washer.

  • 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 often should you wash a duvet or down comforter?

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.

Martha Stewart suggests, 'Besides a cover, a duvet comes with the all-important insert, which can be filled with feathers, wool, fibers that are sustainably grown, or synthetic fibers. Though some inserts can be machine-washed, it'll last longer if you get it professionally laundered once or twice a year.'

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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.  

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.