The word duvet comes from the French word for down, the material used inside pillows, quilts, and comforters. Down is the extremely fine, soft under coating of waterfowl, and while it grows from the duck or goose’s quill shaft, the quills are not part of the actual down.
Since the duvet is the first and largest part of the bed that one sees, it should be maintained regularly to hold its down and not be degraded by oils that collect with use. Always use a duvet comforter to protect the down.
Extending the life of the down comforter is another bonus to using a duvet cover. By doing so, the comforter will need to be professionally cleaned only every three to five years.
Duvet covers are available in several different fabrics, including cotton and silk. These two materials are ideal because of their light weight and ease in laundering. Because the down inside a comforter or bedspread is by nature warm and also allows a free flow of air exchange, you’ll want the duvet cover in as light as fabric as possible. Some even prefer to use the duvet cover as the top sheet on their bedding, or as a featherbed to sleep on.
The laundering of duvet covers is relatively easy. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as per wash/rinse temperature, using a mild detergent and drying according to directions. You can add 8-10 drops of lavender essential oil to the rinse cycle water to scent the cover if you wish.
The actual down comforter, however, requires a different method of laundering altogether. A small sized comforter can most often times be laundered right at home using your own washing machine, or in a bathtub as they did traditionally in Europe for centuries. However, some manufacturers do not recommend using an agitator-type machine. If the instructions on your duvet recommend a professional cleaning, then do not wash it. If not, then a small sized comforter can be washed at home with a delicate down wash detergent. (Fabric softener should not be used as this can deteriorate the down.) Add 1/2 cup of baking soda along with your mild “for delicates” detergent to boost cleaning power. It helps soften the wash water, and the detergents work better in softer water. After following the directions for washing, it is best to use at least two or three rinse cycles to allow the down a thorough rinsing. Leaving a soap residue affects the fluff and prevents air from circulating throughout the down to bolster it again.
As for drying, it is recommended to use the lightest or coolest cycle available when laundering a down product. Throwing a couple of tennis balls in the dryer with the comforter will keep the down fluffed and help it dry more evenly. When the comforter feels dry to the touch, it is still very likely a bit damp inside the covering. Hang the comforter or bedspread on a line in a cool, shady place for at least twenty-four hours before placing it back on the bed. This will allow the down to fully dry and once again become fluffed.
STORAGE TIPS: When storing or traveling with a down-filled comforter, always use a cotton cover. Do not use plastic bags, which keeps the down from breathing freely and may cause an odor in the down itself.
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