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Cleaning Old Down Pillows Left in Storage

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

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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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August 25, 20100 found this helpful

Bugs and/or bacteria would be killed with a trip through a dryer cycle. I''d start with that.

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August 26, 20100 found this helpful

I once had an expensive down feather comforter, after 12 months I took it from its bag in the closet, when the grandsons slept over, It gave my 2 year old grandson the worst [and first] bout of asthma, since that time he has always suffered with asthma, he is now 11 years old. Of course I disposed of it, they breed dust mites on a large scale. I hope you don't have this affect.

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August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Be very careful about putting old pillows in the wash machine. I would first put the pillows in an old pillow case and either sew or pin the pillow cases shut. (tightly!) If the covering is rotten on the pillows, you could have a real mess in your wash machine! I have washed many old pillows in my wash machine and haven't had any problems, but I just wanted to warn you!

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