How to Wash a Down Blanket
A down blanket or a down comforter needs special handling when it's being cleaned. Always refer to the cleaning instructions that came with the blanket before trying to do it yourself.
Down is a natural product that relies on the content of natural oils for its resilience and effectiveness. If you're going to wash a down-filled item you should ensure that you either use water only, or a detergent specially formulated for down.
Size of Machine
To machine wash a down item you need to have a machine that is large enough to contain it, plus enough water to do a thorough washing job. For most down items a domestic washing machine is not big enough. Using too small a machine will ensure that your down blanket is not thoroughly washed, and that it will need to be done again very soon afterwards.
The spin speed of most machines is too high and will crush down and destroy the fluffiness that it's prized for. It's best to avoid spinning the down blanket. Allow it to drain as much as possible. Trying to get a down blanket distributed evenly through a spinner is also quite difficult. If the down blanket has gathered in a particular part of the spinner, it is likely that the spinner will be very badly balanced and not be able to operate efficiently.
A large size electric dryer on ‘warm’ will cope with a down blanket. To help the blanket to dry and keep the down evenly distributed, regularly stop the machine and shake the blanket out and pummel it a little. This can also be done by including some smooth heavy objects in the machine. A couple of nets, each containing six to twelve tennis balls, are ideal. Individual tennis balls tend to settle into the blanket and move around with it. Even with these objects in the machine you still need to check regularly that the blanket has not become wrapped around them.
Always give the blanket plenty of air after removing it from the dryer. If possible, lay the blanket over a large shrub or a hedge so that the largest area possible is open to receiving direct sunlight and natural breeze. This will warm the blanket, allow more of the down to recover its shape and condition, and enable the natural capillary action within the down to bring the last moisture to the surface to be dried way.
The best way to look after down items is to prevent them getting dirty in the first place. Clean down item covers more frequently and choose them for their efficiency at keeping the item clean. Down works best in its natural state, so try to keep it in that state as long as possible.