How to clean a duvet: fresh bedding in 7 simple steps

Complete your spring clean with our simple guide to how to clean a duvet

How to clean a duvet: woman in bed poking her head out from under the duvet
(Image credit: Snowy Vin at Unsplash)

Duvets may be bulky, but most are quite simple to wash. Read on for our guide for how to clean a duvet, easily and effectively.

According to experts, we spend 35% of our lives in bed. And even though we regularly wash and change our sheets and bedding, we often neglect our trusted duvet. In fact, the duvet is the perfect breeding ground for dust mites and plenty of other forms of bacteria collected during our sleep. While it seems like such a bothersome chore to clean a bulky item, it’s actually not as tricky as it might seem. Maintaining your duvet correctly also prolongs its lifespan (great news if you've invested in one of the best duvets around). 

If you're doing a proper spring clean, why not clean your mattress while you’re at it? Have a read of our how to clean a mattress for some great tips. Or if you want to upgrade your bed completely, head to our best mattress guide for our top picks. 

But if you just want to refresh your duvet, follow our simple steps to make it nice and hygienic.

How often should you wash a duvet?

You should wash your duvet once every six months, or once a year at the longest. Even if you're washing your sheets regularly, your duvet will harbour dust mites and bacteria, so it's important to include that in your cleaning cycle too. If you suffer from allergies, you might want to consider washing it every few months (here's some tips on choosing the best duvet for allergies). 

1. Remove the duvet cover

This may seem fairly obvious, but it isn’t wise to cut corners by washing the duvet inside the cover. Duvets often have special care requirements and so wash separately to get a more effective clean.

2. Repair any weak spots and treat strains

Duvets can be prone to wear and tear over years, so it’s best to sew any teared seams before washing, to avoid further damage in the washing machine. It’s also advisable to isolate any stains on duvets to ensure a thorough clean. Shake any loose feathers away before treating with a good stain remover (or use baking soda).

3. Check the care label carefully

Different types of duvet need their own care so it’s important you read the labels. Firstly, find out whether your duvet is machine washable or if it needs dry cleaning. Many duvets can be washed in the washing machine, but the particulars will vary from product to product, will largely depending on the kind of duvet stuffing you have.

You want to go by the official instructions on the care label (or check the manufacturer brand's website), but there are certain rules of thumb you can expect. Feather and down duvets are best washed at a delicate setting on a low temperature with no spin cycle. This is to avoid flattening the feathers and ending up with a flat duvet! Most synthetic duvets also require a warm gentle cycle of no more than 30 degrees because of the delicate threading. You can usually use a normal spin cycle with these. If the care label permits it, washing at 60C is the only reliable way to get rid of dust mites, although washing at lower temps can help dissolve the droppings that cause most allergy-sufferers' symptoms. 

4. Don't overstuff your washing machine 

Before you stuff your duvet into your machine, ensure it will fit nicely. Most 7kg capacity machines can usually accommodate a 10-tog double. The best way to load it in is to fold it in half, slowly spreading out the weight. The duvet needs sufficient space to tumble around the drum. If there isn't enough room in your washing machine, take the duvet to a launderette where there are bigger machines. You don’t want to risk damaging your washing machine, which will be more costly!

How to clean a duvet: washing machine

(Image credit: Rodnae Productions on Pexels)

5. Use the right washing powder 

Harsh washing detergents can strip the down filling of its natural oils and fibers so use a natural powder or a non-biological detergent (without enzymes). Only use a small amount of washing powder, and it’s advisable to run through two rinse cycles to make sure all the soapy suds have been removed. Also, avoid using a fabric conditioner for down duvets as this will seep into the fabric and make it less fluffy. 

6. Dry thoroughly before you put back onto bed

If you have a tumble-dryer, the duvet can be dried on a low heat (again, check the label to make doubly-sure it's suitable for your particular duvet though). A tip is to use dryer balls inside the machine to help 'beat’ the duvet to prevent clumps forming. If you don't have dryer balls, remove the duvet every 30 minutes to shake out during the cycle. Continue this until your duvet is completely dry.

On the other hand, feather and down duvets are not suitable for tumble drying so can be hung out to air dry. Bear in mind, duvets take a longer time to dry depending on size, so make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back onto the bed.

7. Never iron a duvet

Even if it looks terribly creased, never iron a duvet. The high heat from the iron will damage the fabric and filling inside which will ruin your beloved duvet. Once the cover is on nobody will ever notice, plus it’s one less thing to iron!

Cynthia Lawrence is a freelance lifestyle journalist and digital editor for national publications. She also has a rather unhealthy obsession for Homes & Interiors, and loves a good bargain.