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Cleaning Down Comforters

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Where to wash bulky items like sleeping bags and blankets

June 2004

Where can I wash/clean/launder big, bulky household items such as sleeping bags, blankets, mattress pads etc.? Which laundromats allow them and have big enough machines that do a good job cleaning without destroying the items? What price should I expect to pay?

[As background info, I had tried having a few of those items laundered at a cleaners' business which had done a great job on smaller clothing items before, but unfortunately for those big items the stains stayed in (despite instructions to spot-clean, and a repeat cycle) and new tears appeared instead, so now I would like to try the DIY route...] Watching the clothes go 'round


We're in Oakland and the laundromat on Park Blvd. in Glenview has bulky item washers that do just fine. I believe they're about $3. Esther
There's a dry cleaners/laundry next to Stone Mountain and Daughters fabric store on Shattuck. It's a tiny place, and it's where I take all my comforters to be laundered (regular wash and dry - not dry cleaned). They charge $12 for king, $10 for double. Can do same day if you drop it off early enough (they open at 8 am). Sure beats sitting in a laundromat for 2 hours! Ellen
Launderland in El Cerrito, just past Potrero on San Pablo. I don't know how much it costs for the huge machines; expect at least $3 would be my guess. I know they have quite a few huge machines made for the type of items you mentioned. anon

Recommend a place to clean a down comforter?

Nov 2003

Can anyone recommend a place to clean a down comforter? L


I have always used ''Dreams'' at 921 Howard St. in San Francisco because I used to live in the City and they did a great job for $40- no weird chemical odors like from some dry cleaning places. I am curious to know who people use in the East Bay, as many dry cleaners don't accept down comforters due to the potential for ''feather explosions''. Dreams also does repair, custom work, resizing/stuffing, and can create custom (expensive!) duvets. Their phone #: 415-543-1800. lou
Klean Down & Fiber, 6015 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 654-8373. They're down specialists, and do a great job cleaning comforters, sleeping bags, jackets, etc.
Down comforters are totally machine washable and actually thrive in a warm dryer. We have a standard washer/dryer and have washed our two down comforters monthly for the last 3 years. Both are still doing great.

Dry clean a down comforter for less than $60?

Feb 2003

I have a queen size dawn comforter that needs to be clean. I looked up in the past recommendations at some dry cleaning services, and apparently it will cost me more than $60 to have it dry cleaned. Can you recommend a good place to take it, that will cost less than that? Thanks.


I throw our comforter in the washing machine and dryer! Just use a warm cycle for both--they come out great. Just my 2 cents... anon
Just take it to the laundrymat. Wash it like anything else cotton (or whatever the cover material is)and dry it like normal. It will look like a drowned rat when it comes out of the wash but will return to normal when it gets fluffy dry. Down is a natural animal feather that won't get ruined by water. You can wash it at home but they do not get as clean because they are so big. Wash my comforters all the time
I have used All American Cleaners on Shattuck near Bushrod Park, 654-8373, ever since they were recommended to me by REI years ago. They wash instead of dry clean which is actually better for down and they really know what they are doing. I have them do anything down or fibrefill, wool blankets, quilts, etc. and everything comes home soft and fresh. The place looks really funky (there's not even a legible sign out front) but don't be put off. I've always thought their prices were fair but there's no way around it- cleaning something big like a comforter costs some $. cfl
You can clean down comforters in the washing machine- use Woolite or special ''down washes''. The hardest part is drying- it must be machine dried thoroughly to get the loft (and warmth) back. If your comforter is large and thick, it may not fit well in the dryer (we do a queen size in our regular dryer though, but it's a lighter weight one) and some recommend taking it to the local laundromat and using their huge dryers. Also to break up the soggy clumps of down you need something to agitate in the dryer- clean tennis balls work well (makes a little noise until the comforter is halfway dried and can cushion the sound though!). It's a bit of trouble but worth saving $60. Don't wash OR dryclean too frequently, not good for the down. Kate
I never dry clean our down comforters. Rather, I throw them in the wash, and dry them in the dryer with a few tennis balls thrown in to prevent the feathers from sticking together while drying. Easy, and cheap! We have very nice comforters, and I have never once had them dry cleaned. mary
You can wash down comforters by hand with mild soap (I put them in my bathtub, and use shampoo.) Then I put them in the washing machine for the spin cycle ONLY to get most of the water out. Finally they go in the dryer on low. It takes a little time, but then so do two trips to the dry cleaner. Not to mention it's better for the environment, much cleaper, and your comforter doesn't smell like dry cleaning chemicals. Karen
What I do to avoid the expense of dry cleaning down comforters is take them to a laundrymat that has the large washers and wash them with mild detergents in a gentle cycle - preferably on a sunny day so you can hang them outside to dry. Mmmm - so clean and crisp from the fresh air. Cost: about $4.00. Alison
I recently had the same experience--and that day Macy's was selling down comforters for less than I was quoted to dryclean mine! Instead of tossing mine out the window I ended up taking it to a laundromat and washing it in the big industrial machine with a mild detergent. I dried it in the big gas dryer with a few (clean!) tennis shoes to bang around inside and break up any down clumps. This seems to have worked just fine. The comforter is clean and got perfectly dry, and the down does not appear to have redistributed unevenly. You do have to take it out and let it cool, then pop it back in the dryer again several times to make sure it's dry (because when hot it seems dry, but moisture eventually comes to the surface). This is not a good long-term solution, though; after that I learned my lesson and started using a comforter cover. With the cover on I should only have to clean it every 5 years or so. It also helps keep body oils away from the down. Brave enough to ignore the label
I have always cleaned my down comforters of any size at a commercial laundromat in a large front loading washer with regular detergent. Dry them with a clean canvas sneaker tossed in the dryer to break up any lumps of down. I also clean my pillows this way. While in Berkeley I have used the laundromat on lower Solano near the post office. The fellow who works there is very nice and a time or two I have had him do the drying phase as I did not have the time to wait for it. Laura
To the person asking about drycleaning a down comforter. I spent several years selling high quality down comforters and we advised people that you could wash them. I have had good luck doing so with my 15 year old queen size. What you need to do is wash the quilt in a good sized washing machine (if yours is small it's worth taking to a laundromat.) Use mild detergent, water for a large load and warm not hot water. Dry the quilt in the dryer on low or medium heat (I use permanent press) with a couple of tennis shoes. This will redistribute the down and give loft back to the quilt. If you have any further questions please feel free to e-mail. Karen, mother of Andre, age 2
We have washed our comforter and other down items in our own washing machine with a concentrated liquid soap designed for this. Then just lots of drying time to get it back up to fluffiness. No problems! Harmony is the vendor - biodegradable, enviro products, etc. I could not find it right now on their web site but we order all our soaps, toilet paper, etc. from them over the phone every couple months. http://www.gaiam.com Margi
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