Cleaning Down Pillows at Home without Toxic Chemicals

I’ve cleaned my own feather and down pillows as well as a 100% down sleeping bag using the following method:

First, wash the pillows (no more than two at a time) in the washing machine using cold or lukewarm water, gentle cycle, with a mild liquid cleaning soap (not detergent) such as Woolite® EXTRA Delicates Care. It’s OK to substitute a “green” liquid laundry soap (not detergent), but the Woolite® works great. The idea is to avoid removing the natural oils from the down.

Fill the machine two-thirds full with water before adding the liquid soap, so that it’s completely diluted, and then add the pillows. If the machine has an extra rinse cycle, select it. Then, to ensure that all soap residue is completely removed, run a second complete wash/rinse cycle with no soap. Spin dry. If the machine has a fast spin cycle, select it.

Set dryer to the lowest heat setting. Place two pillows in the dryer along with three brand new clean tennis balls. (The tennis balls will break up any clumps and fluff the down during drying.) Many supermarkets sell packs of 3-4 rubber dryer balls (in the laundry aisle) with little nubs all over them that serve the same purpose. Run the pillows in the dryer for as much time and as many drying cycles as necessary until bone dry, and the down and feathers have absolutely no detectable odor from dampness.

That’s it . . . the pillows come out of the dryer so plump and fluffy that’s it’s a struggle to get them back into the pillow cases!

Although this method is non-toxic, it is not exactly energy-efficient due to increased use of water in the extra rinse cycles and gas/electricity in the extra dryer cycles. Still, it’s a much more appealing solution than sending pillows to the dry cleaner where toxic chemical residues could be left behind.

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