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Soft down pillows, comforters, or mattress covers can give you years of pleasure if the proper care is taken with them. To begin, you should always protect your down item with an outer shell. The best shell fabric for down is a good quality, tightly woven cotton or a cotton polyester blend. These fabrics will allow the down to breathe and trap air properly while they provide a fine enough thread count that the down cannot work out. You can make your own washable covers for comforters by using two sheets that have been sewn on three sides with a zipper in the fourth side. For pillows, you can use pillowcases with a zipper in the end. These washable covers will protect your down item from stains and dirt. If you choose to have your comforter or pillows cleaned, always check to see if they need repairs beforehand. Stitch any open or loose seams before you begin. Down comforters can be cleaned by hand washing or using an oversize commercial washer and dryer. Always consult the label on your down item before washing to be sure it is safe.

When washing a down comforter in a washing machine, always use the gentle cycle, warm water, and about one half the normal detergent. Do not put the comforter in the washer until the machine has filled and been allowed to agitate for a moment to mix in the soap. Then stop the machine and immerse the comforter; then allow the cycle to continue. Repeat the rinse cycle twice or until the water runs completely clear. When drying, set the temperature to low and allow it to tumble until dry. This could take up to four hours, so check from time to time to be sure the comforter is not getting too warm. Loosen any clumps of down with your fingers. Anytime your have problems with washing rotation or uneven drying with a down item, you can add a pair of sneakers without laces to the wash or dry cycle. This will balance the rotation when washing and help distribute the down evenly when drying.

Down pillows need to be cleaned about once a year with normal use. If you decide to have your pillows or comforter cleaned, always find a reputable cleaner who has had experience with down items. You will need to air your pillows after getting them back from the cleaners. Down pillows can be cleaned at home using your washer and dryer. They should be washed two at a time in the same manner as the down comforter. After a time, most down pillows will lose their ability to trap air. When this happens, you will need to revive your pillows. To do this you can put them in the dryer with sneakers or tennis balls and allow them to tumble on low for approximately ten minutes. If this does not revive your pillow, you will need to add more down. To do this, you will need to purchase a standard bag of loose down. Partially open a seam on one end of the pillow and hand feed the down into the opening. Then stitch the pillow closed and place it back into its protective cover. Down mattress covers, in most cases, are too large to fit in even commercial machines. Because of this, they should be taken to a dry cleaners. Always remember when taking down items to the cleaners to remove the protective covers and wash them at home. Be sure to air your down items that are cleaned for several hours before using them on your bed.