First and foremost, we must be clear that St. Geneve does not recommend machine washing any down duvet, regardless of brand. If you choose to follow this guide, please remember that The Mattress & Sleep Company and St. Geneve are unfortunately unable to help should the duvet become damaged or unusable for any reason.
We have written this guide specifically for St. Geneve down filled duvets although realistically our advice applies to any true European baffle-box down duvet. (Not sure if yours is a genuine baffle box? If you can see visible stitching between the chambers of fill, then this is not a genuine baffle box design).
With the grim warning stuff out of the way, let’s look at a few things. To start with, the main reason why machine washing a down duvet is not normally recommended is simply because if done incorrectly, there is a very good chance of down leakage and/or complete separation of the baffles. The second major issue is really with the drying process. If down isn’t dried properly, it’s not going to loft up like new, it may clump up and it may retain an odour. The purpose of this guide is to go over how to avoid these situations should you choose to wash your duvet.
Down Washing – Tools of the Trade
Having the right tools is really important. Unfortunately a down duvet simply should not be washed in a top load machine with an agitator. The risk of damage is just too great. For our testing purposes, I’ve been using a fairly high end Samsung washer & dryer pair, with large capacities. The duvet I’m testing is my personal St. Geneve Salzburg duvet in a king size summer weight. The duvet is around 4 years old at of the time of this wash test.
The washing machine used for this guide is a Samsung WF455ARGSGR 5.2 cu.ft front load washer. This is one of the larger capacity units on the market and my king summer weight duvet nearly filled the drum. I would imagine classic or winter weight super king duvets are likely just too large to fit in a home washing machine. Anything smaller such as a twin or queen should not be an issue in most HE front load washing machines.
My dryer is the Samsung DV455EVGSGR 7.5 cu.ft model. Once the duvet had been washed, it easily fit in the bottom of the machine and once dry, nearly filled the complete area of the machine.
The Down Washing Process
I’m using our wonderful Le Blanc Downwash for a detergent. It’s crucial that any down filled products are only cleaned with a detergent specifically designed for down. Regular detergents will dry out the fibres and make them brittle and will often ruin the loft of the down. For this test I poured about an ounce of detergent into the dispenser at the top of the machine, which is about the same amount I use to wash one down pillow. This is likely enough detergent when you consider that a down pillow contains about as much filling as a duvet, and high efficiency front load machines of course do not need a lot of soap in the first place.
The settings I used were my machine’s Delicates/Hand Wash setting, which sets the water temperature to Cold, and the Spin setting at Low spin.
In my particular case I noticed the duvet wouldn’t spin in the machine. What I ended up doing was stopping the wash cycle and simply re-starting it again. This allowed for some extra water to be dumped into the machine, and by doing so the top side of the duvet was finally saturated with enough water to allow it to spin with the drum. You may or may not have to do this same thing depending on your machine.
When the washing process is done, you’ll want to check the duvet for moisture content. I found that my duvet didn’t have excess moisture in it, so I went straight on to the drying process. If, however you notice the duvet seems rather saturated with water, you may wish to take a couple of large beach towels and roll the duvet in the towels to take out some of the excess moisture. An alternative would be to run your duvet through an extra spin cycle, if your machine has this setting.
Drying Your Down Duvet Correctly
This is actually the easy part. All you have to keep in mind is that we want to get the moisture out of the down as quickly as we can. This helps the down to loft up better, and prevents having to repeat the entire wash & dry cycle again. On my machine, I used the Time Dry setting and simply set it for 1h 30m. I used the High Heat setting. This may seem unusual but again, the goal is to get that moisture out of the duvet quickly.
Perhaps an hour into your drying cycle, you’ll want to open the door and check on the progress. If your duvet still feels at all damp, or the down is clumpy, it’s still not dry. Keep going until the down is no longer clumping and you’re sure the moisture is all out. In my case, the total drying time was 1h 50m as I had to throw the duvet back in for an extra 20 minutes to get it dry to my satisfaction.
If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you could certainly use a lower heat setting on your machine. I personally believe that most any dryer these days offers very little in the way of temperature control. Low or high heat seem to be shockingly similar on most machines!
So Fresh So Clean
Done correctly, you’ll notice your duvet is looking nearly brand new again. It’ll have lost a bit of the sheen of the new cotton ticking, but any yellowing from perspiration will likely all have easily gone away. The duvet will also seem a little thicker than it was, as down does matte a little bit with time. This wash & dry process essentially resets the down to the new lofty feel.
If the duvet is clumpy or has a bad odour, this means that unfortunately the process either may not have been followed or you may have to tweak the process for your situation. Don’t despair, neither of these issues are at all permanent. A successful wash & dry cycle will solve both problems.
If you need to tweak the process my suggestions would be to increase the water temperature to warm, use a bit more detergent, or increase the amount of spin. The drying process should remain the same – high heat yet accompanied by careful monitoring of the drying process, being sure not to over dry.
Again, please keep in mind this guide is only the view of one individual. We cannot guarantee success. Always follow the care label when unsure or concerned about damaging any textile product.