Deep cleaning feathers
November 4, 2008 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Cleaning feather/down - I have several feather or down filled things (pillows, cushions, ski jacket, etc.) that over years have have various liquids spilled *into* them. Liquids like juice, pet urine, beer, gasoline, sweat, etc. (not all on the same item!). My point is these are not surface dirt things - this is stuff that seeps through the cover and into the feathers. I looking for a way to clean the feathers themselves. Is there a fluid that I can soak - say a cushion - in and it will clean the feathers inside? Or a vapor of some kind ? Or will just soapy water do the job if I can be sure to drying the insides properly? All and any advice please, especially on the pet urine soiled item - it'll have to go if I can't clean it 'deeply'. TIA
posted by Xhris to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've washed down items in a regular washing machine using warm or cool water with a small amount of detergent, and then dried them in a low-temperature dryer at the laundromat. Nothing bad has happened except once the detergent foamed up dramatically because I used too much. It all gets clean. I've done this to a jacket, sleeping bag, and comforters. Drying thoroughly can take awhile.
posted by PatoPata at 10:27 AM on November 4, 2008

As Pato says, I've washed my many down comforters in a regular washing machine, with extra-long soaking. Not often, mind you, but once a year or so. They take forever to dry well, and you need to re-fluff the hell out of them because they get clumpy, but they definitely get back to "good as new" after a little judicious violence.

The instructions may say ridiculous things like "water may harm the down" but good gracious... what kind of non-waterproof bird are we talking about, here?
posted by rokusan at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2008

Thirding just throwing them into a washing machine. No harm, no fowl. (wah, wah, wahhhh).
posted by kimdog at 10:46 AM on November 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have "down soap", though I'm unsure if it's necessary (Revivex Down Cleaner is the brand, I bought it from Feathered Friends here in Seattle, which also has down cleaning instructions, though they're a little different from what I do). Only use a front-loading washing machine, as the agitator can tear large down items. To dry, I put the item in a dryer turned to "air only" (no heat) along with a tennis ball, which bounces around and breaks apart clumps. It takes an incredibly long time.
posted by j.edwards at 10:56 AM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I usually take mine to the laundrymat and pay for one of those large front loaders. A little bit of soap like woolite and it is done. If I need to pre-treat (urine or other uck) I use the orange oxy nature's miracle before placing it in the washer. I bring tennis balls for the dryer so it fluffs as it dries.
posted by jadepearl at 11:10 AM on November 4, 2008

Yes, I've thrown down coats and comfortors into the washing machine and have used 3 (clean and unused) tennis balls in a low heat dryer to "fluff" them for me. Always works out just fine.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:12 AM on November 4, 2008

Sorry, also wanted to add that it has worked out even better taking them to the dry cleaners, even though I know that wasn't the question, just that they got out stains I couldn't, as usual.
posted by cestmoi15 at 12:10 PM on November 4, 2008

Adding that Nature's Miracle is a good product for dealing w/ pet urine, and they make a laundry additive.
posted by dontoine at 12:44 PM on November 4, 2008

Any store that sells camping stuff will sell special cleaner for down.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2008

...To add a tweak or two to the excellent suggestions already made...For heavy-duty stains in the down I use about half the usual amount regular detergent, add a disinfectant like Simple Green, (1/2 cup or so) and a cup or so of Oxyclean (for the set-in stains on fabric), let the load agitate for several minutes, then stop the machine and leave it to soak for several hours (tough, if you're at a laundromat!). Restart, and when the machine finishes cycle, run it through an extra rinse. Setting the machine for a large or super-sized load, and not overloading the machine, allows the items a lot of movement and the cleaners and water do their job best. Be sure to over-dry, never under-dry.
posted by mumstheword at 3:33 PM on November 4, 2008

you can also spot clean down with soapy water or enzyme cleaner, but if it really has been "over the years" the dirty feathers inside will have shifted and you'll need to dry clean or wash the whole thing. If you wash, the tennis ball method cestmoi15 mentions is very good for re-fluffing the feathers as you dry them.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:45 PM on November 4, 2008

Top-notch professional service removes the feathers and washes covers and feathers separately, the put it all back together.
posted by Goofyy at 8:55 AM on November 5, 2008

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