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How to wash a duvet — and how often to do it

Here's how to make sure that oh-so-snuggly duvet stays fresh and clean.
/ Source: TODAY

Washing your duvet can seem like a monumental chore. Can you even wash a feather duvet? Will that beast even fit in your washer and, if it does, will it take a month for it to actually dry?

Here's the good news: A duvet cover should be washed once a month, but duvets themselves can go an impressive five to 10 years without needing to be cleaned.

But chances are you invested a good amount of time and money choosing the right duvet, so why not make sure it stays clean and fresh so you can keep using it for years to come?

"There have been a couple situations where we definitely needed to launder our duvets, but for the most part, if you have a cover on it, you can easily freshen up your duvet before you need to all-out wash it," Becky Rapinchuk, author of "Clean Mama's Guide to a Healthy Home," told TODAY Home.

"If you need to freshen up your duvet or comforter, simply put it in the dryer on low heat with three wool dryer balls or three clean tennis balls," said Rapinchuk. "I will stop it every 10 minutes or so to redistribute the duvet or comforter and then repeat for a total of 30-40 minutes. This fluffs up the duvet or comforter and redistributes the filling for a freshened-up bed. If you want to kill germs but not wash it, put the dryer on high heat and keep an eye on it, rotating every 5-10 minutes and dry for 30 minutes."

But what about those times when a quick refresh just won't cut it? Rapinchuk says that the best bet is to follow the goose down duvet's washing instructions on the label, though she herself sometimes goes rogue in favor of a DIY method.

"There have been times when I have disregarded the directions because it was more expensive to have something professionally laundered then it was to replace it," she said. "I took the chance and laundered it myself and saved the duvet for the cost of the water and detergent. Of course, launder at your own risk."

While professional cleaning is usually recommended to clean the entire duvet, alternative cleaning instructions may also be listed on the care label. If DIY options are offered, it’s important to understand it is a time-consuming process and you’ll need an oversize/commercial washer and dryer to do the job.

How to wash a duvet comforter

  1. Stitch together any loose or open seams and holes to prevent a washer full of feathers later on.
  2. Pre-treat stains or use a gentle, stain-removing detergent.
  3. Wash in an oversize/commercial capacity washer, using a gentle setting, warm water and mild detergent.
  4. Because the filling is dense, rinse twice to remove excess detergent.
  5. Dry in an extra-large capacity dryer according to recommendations on care label, usually on low or air/fluff cycle. This is the time-consuming part because it’s difficult to dry the fillings inside the duvet. You’ll need to periodically stop the dryer and hand fluff feathers/down/fiberfill to help it dry move evenly. The duvet may take hours to dry completely.
  6. To ensure that the down/feathers/fiberfill are completely dry, hang the duvet to air dry for an additional 24 hours. (Drying the duvet outside takes even more time and could result in mold/mildew forming on the damp feathers/down.)

No doubt about it, that takes a lot of work and time. To make sure you only need to tackle this task every 10 years, follow these tips.

  • Always keep the duvet covered.
  • Shake and fluff the duvet when you make the bed to evenly distribute the fill.
  • Hang the duvet outside four times a year to air out (preferably on a sunny, dry, breezy day).

If you have just a small stain, consider spot cleaning.

How to spot clean your duvet

If you're wondering how to wash a duvet without a washing machine, spot cleaning is the way to go.

  1. Move the down/feather/fiberfill away from the area you wish to clean.
  2. Gently rub a mild soap solution or spot remover into the stain.
  3. Rinse well with water, being careful not to wet any of the filling.
  4. Dry the area using a hair dryer.

Using interviews with specialists, online reviews and personal experience, TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! TODAY does have affiliate relationships with various online retailers. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

This article was originally published on Jan. 20, 2016.