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Cleaning A Down Pillow

A stack of soft fluffy down pillows.
Pillows made from down feathers from birds like geese and ducks are very popular for their softness and warmth but can be difficult to safely clean. This is a guide about cleaning a down pillow.
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By 0 found this helpful
August 31, 2010

I kept the down pillows from my Mom and Dad's home, after they passed. I took them to the cleaners, who cleaned the feathers, and put them in new ticking of my choice of pattern. I now put them in the dryer on a hot setting for awhile to fluff and freshen. We love them. No allergy problems!

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By jeanstreetr from Combined Locks, WI

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
August 11, 2010

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.

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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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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.

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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 http://webby.com/humor

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 26, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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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By 0 found this helpful
August 24, 2010

I'm cleaning out my mom's attic and found about 5-6 down pillows. The attic is closed up and hot and these pillows have been up there and unused for 15 or more years. Some feel really nice, none really look dirty.

I can see by the casing that a few were pillows made by my grandma that she handstuffed with beautiful, white, soft goose down maybe 40 years ago. My sister says to throw them out that they're too old and could have bugs or be filled with bacteria. Could that be? I would really love to try to wash these pillows and use them for my beds.

Are they too far gone to wash and use again? Could they be filled with bacteria, bugs or who knows what? I'd sure hate to waste them. Good down pillows are expensive.

By Ripley from Chicago, IL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 25, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Of course they can be washed. Grandma's never threw anything out. I sew mine into a pillow case and wash on delicate, but choose a windy day so that I can hang them outside. You can finish in the dryer on low setting or just fluff.

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August 25, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I wash all my down articles. I use a warm setting on the washer with the usual amount of detergent. I also use fabric softener. It takes several times thru the dryer to get them dry, but they are like new when they are dry. You can get new pillow ticks and transfer the down to the new ticks when it is wet, then dry as usual. Good luck.

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October 2, 2011

How do I go about cleaning a down throw pillow?

By Maryeileen from Brooklyn, OH

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October 4, 20110 found this helpful

I'm thinking that a pillow would be too thick to throw in the washing machine and dryer. It will probably have to go to the cleaners. But by the time you pay their cost, it may be cheaper to replace it. I've washed down comforters and even a feather bed, but it took a long time to dry - especially the feather bed. The down comfortors are not as thick as a pillow so they dried fine.

From what I understand about the cleaners - they take the pillow apart, wash the feathers and either replace the cover or wash the cover separately and reassemble.

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October 10, 20110 found this helpful

It's a throw pillow, not a bed pillow, so I might try to wash it on the delicate cycle.

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Archives

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August 11, 20100 found this helpful

How do you clean feather pillows?

By Edward54 from Altoona PA

Answers:

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

They sell a special down cleaner at REI in Seattle. It's made for cleaning high-end sleeping bags. You clean the sleeping bags in your bath tub. I had an old boyfriend who did this with great success. You don't want a harsh cleanerand never dry clean! If all else fails, use baby shampoo in the tub.

Read this for more details:


rei.com (04/24/2009)

By Cyinda

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

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. (04/26/2009)

By fatboyslimsmom

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 24, 20090 found this helpful

How do you freshen feather pillows? I wash my children's pillows in the washing machine, but I can't do that with feather pillows.

Jen from Central Florida

Answers:

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

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 (03/07/2009)

By DearWebby

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

Have you tried using the washer/dryer? I washed/dried my feather down comforter. My dog had slept on it, and it smelled enough that I was willing to risk it. When I took it out of the the cold wash; something looked wrong. I figured: I am already knee deep, I will just finish the job. I put it in the dryer, low heat. I untwisted it a few times in between the drying. When the dryer stopped It was like new! I laid it flat on the bed right away. Bright white, fluffy down comforter.

If your pillow is older and you are worried about fabric ripping: put 2 extra pillowcases on it, going against each other. (03/07/2009)

By Starchild in VT

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

I have been washing down items in the washer for 20 years and nothing happens to them. I pretty much do the same as other viewers replied; that is wash in the washer and dry in the dryer with tennis balls or clean shoes. Make sure you dry completely or the feathers will bunch together, rot, and smell. There is no way to get rid of that. (03/08/2009)

By justhelpingout

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

March 6, 20090 found this helpful

I have quite a few pillows with down pillows which need to be cleaned. No idea how to do that. Please give me some advice. And Thanks in advance.

AskLiz

Answers:

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

I take my down comforter to the dry cleaner, they do a great job and it is not expensive.

(04/24/2005)

By Ingrid

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

Try putting them one at a time into your clothes dryer with two damp (but wrung out) face cloths, a dryer sheet and 4- 6 clean tennis balls. New ones are better, but you definitely do not want one that has been lying around and is discolored, it will stain your pillow. The face cloths and dryer sheet will freshen your pillow, and the tennis balls will fluff it right back up.

(04/24/2005)

By Karen

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

While dry cleaning is fine and less hassle, you can save money by washing them in your washing machine, then drying them in the dryer with a tennis shoe or some tennis balls which break up the clumps of feathers and helps to fluff them up. Just be sure that the seams on the pillows are secure or you may get a feather snowstorm when you open the dryer! (04/27/2005)

By Claudia

Cleaning Down Filled Pillows

I wouldn't recommend putting any pillow filled with organic matter (ie- feathers) into the washing machine. Because if even one feather retains moisture after a spin through the dryer, you now have a beautiful breeding ground for bacteria. Remember the conditions for bacterial growth: 1)moisture, 2) food (like feathers or down), and 3) heat (which is added as soon as you sleep on your newly laundered pillows). If your pillows absolutely must be cleaned, instead of freshened, then I would definitely go with the dry cleaner. The fluid they use is not water, and so would not contribute to microbial growth under your (sleeping) nose. (04/27/2005)

By Karen

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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