Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

Is it possible to effectively clean down and feather pillows using a carpet cleaning machine (not a true steam cleaner)? I have a top loading washer and cannot get these pillows to sink, so they do not get effectively washed in there. I refuse to go to a laundromat to use a front loading washer. I read a report on how other people's bacteria and germs are left behind in those washers, which then get picked up on your clothes. Yuck! I also want to avoid dry cleaning the pillows.


I was considering using the handheld attachment on our Bissell Proheat carpet cleaner to do this. I would use a mixture of water in vinegar instead of the solution one might use for carpets. Just wondering if anyone had attempted this, or has any idea whether it's a plausible idea or not?

By lostmymittens from Midwest

March 7, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Most sporting goods stores have down soap made specifically for washing sleeping bags and down filled clothes. It works just fine for down pillows too. It is a mild antiseptic soap that does not remove the natural oils from the feathers. If you use regular detergents, the down becomes brittle.

Dry at low heat with small balls or kid's sneakers in cloth baggies. Ideal are the royal blue velvet baggies with a gold draw string, that Crown Royal Whiskey bottles come in. It is popular with fishermen, but you can easily make one with some left-over velvet. The feather bag for REAL goose down is usually a very thin but super tight duck weave, not a rip-stop weave, and is often quite fragile. Velvet does not hurt even the thinnest inner bags.

For sleeping bags or duvets it is best if you go to a big laundromat and use the biggest machine that they have. I spent a few winters in tents in the arctic, sleeping well in cozy down sleeping bags, and I learned to never allow harsh dry cleaning liquid or regular detergent to ruin good down. At -55 in an unheated tent you can sure tell the difference quickly!

Have FUN! DearWebby

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April 26, 20090 found this helpful
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You could try hanging them outside on a good sunny day, all day long, then running through the dryer on LOW with a tennis ball or one of those laundry balls sold at stores. Just run for about 10 minutes, the refluff the feathers. If it is actually dirty, I would use an upholstery cleaner to surface clean the fabric, then hang outside. The feathers could end up with a permanent stink if you try to wash them at home.

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August 14, 20100 found this helpful
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Washing feather/down pillows should be undertaken carefully as they are delicate and the feathers can clump. I put mine in the bathtub with warm water and a little detergent, swill them about with my hands or walk up and down on them with clean bare feet. Don't leave them to soak. Then, if you have a garden, dry them flat on the grass in the fresh air or on a towel on the floor with all the windows open.

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September 4, 20100 found this helpful
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I wash my feather and down pillows in a top loading washer all the time. Just don't fill with so much water that it floats the pillows up and out of the washer. Use maybe half a tub full water, some liquid detergent and a bit of bleach. Push the pillows down gently as the tub fills with water, close the lid and as it agitates the pillows will start sinking and get water logged and clean. The spin cycle will leave them looking flat but just put them in the dryer with 2 clean tennis balls and they'll come out all fluffy. Don't overdry. When they're pretty dry hang them at the very edge of the short side with a couple of clothes pins or pants or skirt hangers with clips and let them air dry. They'll smell really fresh and look brand new.

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August 13, 20100 found this helpful

Just wash and dry them. Not a problem. I've washed and dried my down comfortor and pillows many times. My friend manages a dry cleaners and that's what they do if something comes in with a wet spot (cat has peed or something.) It costs a fortune to dry clean when not needed. I was on vacation and my old cat didn't like that I was gone so peed on my down comforter, pillows everything. I got home and took it all to the laundromat with the bigger washers. All came out just fine. I started drying them there then brought them home to finish.

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Anonymous Flag
August 13, 20100 found this helpful

Using a carpet cleaning machine is not going to deep clean inside the pillow. I am not trying to be mean but you're limiting yourself by not using a laundromat because the hot water that is used in their machines are much hotter than the average persons home machine. How many germs can there truly be when soap and 180 degree water being used in a washer to clean clothes still harbor germs? Basically none to worry about unless the people who washed their clothes before you had an entire load of only dirty diapers or underpants! If you're that worried about bacteria from someone else's previous load why don't you just run a hot water bleach cycle (as much as I hate bleach for health and environmental reasons) first and then wash your down pillows?

Another alternative is to pay oodles of money to have them dry cleaned but unless it's an even more expensive 'Green' dry cleaners you're going to have lots of nasty chemicals to lay your head on at night and breathing in those chemicals :-(

Have you tried to weigh down your down pillows in your own top loader until the down is soaked enough to sink and then run the wash cycle after being completely saturated? That's what I do with my feather pillows.

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August 14, 20100 found this helpful

I always use my top loading washer to clean my down comforter and pillows. If you let the washer go through the entire cycle the pillows will flatten out and start to accept the water and detergent. Be sure and dry them with a package of tennis balls, this fluffs them back up while drying. Good luck. :)

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August 14, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with Deeli. If there was anything particularly germy about laundromats, half the country would be riddled with disease! A lot of those warnings you read about germs in things, rat droppings on Coke cans and so on, sheer nonsense!

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December 30, 20120 found this helpful

(sent via email)

This is a bad answer to cleaning feather pillows. I washed mine in a washing machine, the cases opened up and filled my machine with the feathers, had to get a new wash machine.


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