Should You Wash a Comforter Before Using It?


For some of us, sleeping on new bedding is actually exciting. We look forward to tossing out the old, throwing on the new, and sliding into that hotel-feeling freshness. It almost feels like being on vacation.

But every time you buy new sheets or a comforter, you question whether you should take the time to wash it before using it. After all, is it really necessary? If you are trying to decide what to do first with your brand-new bedding, yes – you should definitely wash a comforter before using it.

Because the manufacturing of textiles, such as comforters, isn’t strongly regulated, you want to be sure to clean any remaining chemicals, scents, allergens, and other residues that you may not know are in the fibers. Cleaning can give you the peace of mind that your new comforter is clean.

Let’s have a look at the main reasons why washing your comforter before use is a smart decision, and how to do it properly.

Deal with the Scent

There is a wide range of explainable reasons why your new comforter will have a distinct smell when you first bring it home, and unlike a new car, you don’t want that scent to linger.

The main reason could be due to the plastic packaging. Depending on how long the comforter sat in its packaging before you purchased it, the chemicals (and their odor) in the plastic will have had the chance to seep into the material. This is important to know because the substances themselves can be potentially hazardous.

Washing it before use also gives you the opportunity to make it smell like your own. The chances are, even if the comforter doesn’t have the chemical or plastic aroma, it certainly won’t smell like freshly cleaned linen. Your best bet for a comfortable first night is to wash it thoroughly to ensure that the smell of your home is the only thing that you sleep with.

If you decide not to wash it, the least that you should do is let the comforter air out for 24-48 hours. By airing it out, you can give the plastic smell the chance to wear away before you sleep with it in your bed.

Problems with Pest Control

It’s a reality that we would rather not think about but must consider. When it comes to the factories and storage warehouses that our products come from, we simply do not know how clean a warehouse is, nor what sanitary regulations may or may not be followed.

It isn’t uncommon to hear of rats and other critters leaving behind feces or even making a home inside consumer goods. A comforter is a perfect place for something like this to happen. Because of possible contamination, it’s a good idea to stay safe and rid the comforter of any potential threats.

One consequence of not washing if there is contamination from rodents or insects is that it will likely transfer onto your other sheets, the mattress and pillows making future cleaning more difficult.

Remove Possible Allergens

Just like you will want to remove the scent from any chemicals that have come into contact with the comforter before it reached you, you also want to be sure that any allergens are removed.

For example, formaldehyde is a common chemical that is used in textile processing to help prevent wrinkles or creases. In small amounts, this chemical doesn’t typically present any issues. However, in more significant amounts or for those with allergies, formaldehyde can cause skin irritation or respiratory complications. (Source)

Even if something as serious as formaldehyde isn’t present, the possibility of dust getting into the comforter during storage is very likely. For those with allergies, a thorough cleaning before use can help prevent allergy symptoms such as sore throat, itchy eyes, or sneezing.

There Are Unknown Store Policies

Even if you don’t think that the chemicals or scents will affect you, or you aren’t concerned about possible pest infestation, do you know the company policies from where you bought it?

If you have ever returned an item after using it, you must consider that the company has repackaged and sold that item to someone else. While it’s another thing that we don’t like to think of, many of the products that we buy could be something that someone else decided that they didn’t want after they had already used it.

So, has it been used and returned? If so, what procedures does the store or company go through before re-selling the product? With something like a comforter that you will sleep with every night, it’s best to ensure that any previous uses have been cleaned to your satisfaction.

Its Easy to Spot Imperfections

No company is perfect, and defects are bound to happen from time to time. Loose threading, early wear and tear, or otherwise poor quality of your comforter can be found when washing it. If you decide to wait until a month after you have purchased the bedding, you may run out of time for exchanges or returns.

How to Wash Your Comforter Before Using It

Once you decide that washing the comforter is the route for you, you’ll want to follow a few easy steps to get it ready for use.

  • Read the label – Most importantly, it is crucial to wash your comforter according to the directions on the label. If the care instructions suggest that you dry-clean only, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Know your machine – While the majority of comforters will fit in a standard washing machine, bulky ones or smaller machines may have difficulty with a thorough cleaning. You want to be sure that the comforter fits with plenty of extra space to give the filler room to move freely. If it doesn’t fit into your machine, a local laundromat is an excellent option for industrial-sized washing machines.
  • Choose the right temperature – If instructed on the label, use cold or warm water. However, if you want to kill dust mites that are common in bedding, use hot water. Setting the washing machine to a delicate cycle will help protect the outer material.
  • Use a mild detergent – Be sure to use a liquid detergent that is safe for delicate fabrics. If possible, use a natural cleanser that isn’t too harsh and won’t destroy the material. I highly recommend using Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent Pods (link to Amazon) as the best mild detergent used for washing blankets, comforters, and other delicate items in general.
  • Add an extra rinse – Doing an additional quick rinse without detergent will ensure that no residue from the soap is leftover in the stuffing.
  • Use tennis balls – Almost everyone will agree that a fluffy comforter helps the bed feel so much cozier. Tennis balls will gently plump the filling during a tumble dry. I also recently started using XIEHE Dryer Balls from Amazon, and have had great results keeping my comforters fluffy.

As an alternative option, you can always have it dry-cleaned. A professional wash will save time and effort while still ensuring a thorough clean. At least for the first wash.

Comforter Conclusion

When it comes to new sheets and comforters, many of us can understand feeling slightly lazy and simply wanting it to go straight onto the bed. For the most part, we want to trust that a sealed package from a company will be safe to use right away. However, since you sleep with it each night, you shouldn’t take the risk with unknown factors. When it comes to your health and what you cannot see, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Tiara Croft

Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

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