The Cleaning Lady

Washing down coats and comforters

Dear Cleaning Lady:

How do you wash and dry a down jacket or comforter without the down filling getting all clumped? I washed and dried my favorite parka at home and it’s never been the same. Can it be re-fluffed?


Joanna G.

Dear Joanna G.,

Fear not, your down parka can be as good as new if you follow these steps when washing and drying down items:

1.) Use the least amount of laundry detergent you can, and the mildest type you have on hand (Ivory Snow is a good one).

2.) Throw a few tennis balls or a set of white canvas tennis sneakers without laces (hey they need a washing too probably, right?) in the wash to help pound out the comforter as it washes.

3.) Use the Hand Wash and Extra Rinse Settings on your washer for this cycle. If you don’t have the Extra Rinse option, run the rinse cycle again after the first cycle is done. The objective is to make sure all detergent is rinsed from the item (side note: if you are washing a down comforter, make sure it comfortably fits in your washer. If you have to stuff it in there, go to the laundromat or dry cleaner. It’s not worth risking breaking your machine, plus, the comforter won’t get clean).

4.) When drying, do not use fabric softener sheets. Add two (clean!) tennis balls to the dryer which will beat down the item and prevent the clumping that you had before. (Again, see side note from above – make sure your dryer can accommodate the item).

5.) Set the dryer to the “Delicate” setting or lowest heat. It will take a while to dry, but be patient.

6.) If you are drying a comforter, you may need to complete drying by hanging it and letting it air dry until it’s completely dry.

6 Responses to “Washing down coats and comforters”

  1. Marguerite says:

    When drying a jacket or comforter, put two clean tennis balls in the dryer with the item. This will fluff your jacket or comforter.

  2. MaryAnne says:

    I received some hard rubber rings as a gift many years ago that were made for putting in the dryer with down items. I have seen similar products in bath specialty stores. You could also get a really cheap pair of small tennis shoes and dedicate them for drying/fluffing your down. I don’t put fabric softener in with my towels because it makes them less absorbant, but using my fluffer rings softens them up so I have the best of both worlds.

  3. Pat says:

    You can put a clean tennis shoe in the dryer and it will fluff up any thing with down.

  4. Carla says:

    Do not let your down jackets or comforters air dry as suggested. They will get moldy before they are completely dry. Just be sure the item iis in a large enough dryer that it can tumble freely. Take it out after every drying cycle and move it around. Patience required.

  5. DBTodd says:

    We have been washing down items for years and found the “old tennis shoe” trick works the very best! Mild detergent and patience is the trick.

  6. Richa says:

    I just re read the Hunger Games this week (since I read it a few years ago, before the big hype) since I plan on seineg the movie and forgot a lot of important info. They are great books. Yes, depressing, but the meaning underneath is what it’s all about. Don’t give up on em! :)And I love your sons fashion statement! Best pic.Lauren

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