How to clean a featherbed?

Ok, I’ve searched on google, but I get lots of hits for cleaning products rather than instructions on cleaning a featherbed.

What is the best way for me to clean a featherbed? Can I take to the laundromat and put it in one of the big washers, then dry it (this is what I do with the down comforter when it needs to be washed), or should I go about this in some other way?

It’s time to wash it, and I have the time this week, so I’d like to get it done. :slight_smile:

I looked on Google as well, and came up with pretty much the same thing.
For what its worth, I have washed down jackets and sleeping bags before and they came out all right- just put some tennis balls in the dryer so you don’t get lumps.

Take some help along with you, that sucker is going to be heavy when it comes out of the wash. Oh, and wash it on a delicate cycle if you can, otherwise you will end up with little quills sticking you.

Thanks, Lyllyan.

While there’s no help to be had, I’ll go to the place with the little carts so I don’t have to haul it around too far inside the laundromat. And I’ll do as I do with the comforter and wash/dry my sneakers along with it (I don’t own any tennis balls).



What is the best way to clean a down comforter?

If I want to wash my pillows myself, how would I do it?

To summarize from safest to insane…

  1. Throw it out and get a new one.

  2. Send it to the manufacturer for cleaning (if they provide such a service [BTW, are there cleaning instructions on the tag on the mattress?])

  3. Professionally cleaned: Chemically might get the best no-shrink cleaning, but leave it smelly. Waterly might be naturally best, and fresh smelling, but shrink the fabric cover.

  4. Do it yourself at a laundromat with commercial machines. Gentle cycle. Soap, not detergent. Tennis balls in the dryer. Note that even these machines might be too small to handle a feather mattress.

  5. Do it at home and ruin the mattress and machines.

In all cases, make sure the mattress is dry, dry, dry.


  1. Start plucking a new one.

Seeing as how moriah’s first suggestion was not possible (no $ for a new one), I went with the laundromat route. And since the tag has been removed…there were no cleaning instructions to review :wink:
Anyway, for anyone who was wondering: the big industrial size washing machines will handle a full/queen featherbed. The dryers there will also fit it, but they don’t dry so well, or at least not as well with mine. My problem was with the middle baffles - my featherbed has four baffles, running the length of the featherbed like so: llll. The outer ones were completely dry after nearly 90 minutes in the dryer, the inner ones kept getting sort of folded into the middle of the bundle and were still fairly damp. So, I brought it home and spread it out on the living room floor, turning it once an hour - I set up a fan to blow across it to see if that helped, and it did, somewhat. Then I moved it into the bedroom, set it on top of the bed where there is the ceiling fan, the rotating fan and the window fan to keep air moving and continued to turn it hourly.

As the final step, I just spent 45 minutes working on the middle baffles with a hair dryer- I’m waiting for it to completely cool so I can make sure it’s totally dry. If so, the sheets go on! If not, more time with the hair dryer.

Thanks for your help as well, moriah!


I’ve been washing my featherbed, down comforters and pillows for 15 years now with perfect success. VERY easy - don’t be intimidated.

First, let me say that I am an antique dealer specializing in textiles. I have sold many old satin down comforters from the 40s/50s. They are very desireable. I was at first scared to try washing these so I would have them drycleaned. Well, one had the most AWFUL smell - I took it to be drycleaned - they ‘cleaned’ it and it STILL smelled awful - worse - because it now smelled like drycleaning chemicals too. So I figured I had nothing to lose and popped it in the bathtub - YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE FILTH THAT CAME OUT OF THAT THING!!! I had to change sewage colored water several times before it started to truly get clean. It finally came out GORGEOUS and SO lofty it practically floated off the bed. The Moral of this being that DRY CLEANING DOESN"T CLEAN DOWN - or anything that has much thickness - A Total waste of money.

Now - to clean yourself couldn’t be simpler -
Use the extractor machines at the laundramat - a normal size extractor will clean a double size featherbed, but for better cleaning, use the large extractor if available.

Use _ SHAMPOO - not soap, not detergent - just some nice cheap Suave shampoo will do - or any shampoos that don’t have conditioners in them. Down, feathers, silk - are all made of the protein keritin (sp) just like our hair. Use about 2-3 oz for a double featherbed - and use Warm water – NOT hot or cold.

When clean - dump it in the laundramat dryer on hot for the first 20 mintes or so - then check it - you can’t put tennis balls in that sort of dryer because it gets too hot. After the first twenty minutes, take it out and START FLUFFING - you will need to gently knead or pull some of the clumped feathers apart - they will feel lumpy and hard - but don’t worry - as they dry they’ll fluff right up. Just keep putting it back in the dryer and taking it out for fluffing - it DOES take a while, and is GREAT exercise - but the results over expensive and useless cleaning methods makes it worth the effort. When it goes back on the bed you will KNOW it is clean - and you won’t believe how fluffy and comfy. I’ve done this countless times and never had a failure.

Lsura - Glad it turned out OK, but if you had kept stopping the dryer and rearranging the down - plus the kneading part I mention above, the inner layers would get dry too. If you can hang it overnight with circulation to dry rather than drying it flat on your bed that would be better. Also, you’re right to make sure it is ABSOLUTELY dry before you sleep on it. OTherwise, the residual dampness combined with your body heat could make the feathers to permanently loose their fluff