Down pillows and comforters are a joy to own and use.
Summer is the time to make sure they are clean and in perfect shape for another winter's comfort.
With normal use, a down pillow will need cleaning only once a year. To protect the shell from stains, keep it in a washable zippered pillow protector. These can usually be found in linen departments.
Before either dry cleaning or washing a down pillow, be sure to repair any open seams or loose stitching. To make a temporary repair to a rip or opened seam, use pressure-sensitive cloth tape. To mend it permanently, use a fine needle and fine thread. Abut the two edges and close with tiny stitches, then hand-stitch a fabric patch over the mend.
If you would like your pillows dry-cleaned, find a reputable cleaner who is experienced with down products. Air a dry-cleaned pillow well before sleeping on it.
If you prefer to wash your pillows, do them two at a time. To wash them in a home washer, follow these steps:
* Use the gentle cycle, warm water and a mild detergent. Use half the amount of detergent you would for a normal load.
* Agitate the water and soap until well mixed. Stop the machine, immerse the pillows, then continue the cycle.
* To aid rotation, add a pair of clean sneakers without laces.
* Repeat the rinse cycle until the water runs clear.
To dry the pillows, set the dryer on the low setting. Include the sneakers--they will help fluff the down.
Over time, a down pillow will lose its ability to trap air. To revive it, try this:
* Put the pillow in the dryer with a sneaker or tennis ball; set the dryer on low and tumble for 10 minutes.
* If that fails, you can add more down. Shake the filling to one end of the shell, then open part of the opposite seam and insert the neck of another pillow or a bag of down. Add the down a bit at a time. Sew up the opening with a fine needle and small stitches.
The best shell fabric for a down comforter is tightly woven cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. These let the down breathe and trap air properly, yet have a high enough thread count so that the down cannot work its way out. To protect the shell from dirt and stains, you can either buy a washable cover or make one. One way to make one is to sew two sheets together on three sides and close the fourth with a zipper, snaps or Velcro.
Clean and repair a down comforter as you would down pillows.
Distributed by AP Newsfeatures.