Can down feather pillows be washed & dried?

Updated March 21, 2017

Dry-cleaning feather pillows and other down bedding is preferred over laundering them at home. However, feather pillows can be washed and dried at home when proper precautions are taken to avoid damage to these delicate items.

The Right Washing Machine

When washing feather pillows, use a front-loading washing machine, urges Good Housekeeping's Kathleen Huddy. Washers with a central agitator can damage down items.

Washing Down Pillows

Wash no more than two feather pillows at a time. Use a gentle detergent and set the washer on the delicate cycle with an extra rinse, advises Good Housekeeping's "Hints from Heloise."

Drying Down Pillows

Tumble-dry feather pillows in a dryer on low heat. It's a good idea to put a clean tennis ball or clean canvas sneaker in with the pillows to fluff them during the drying process.

Other Helpful Tips

Make sure that feather pillows are completely dry before use. A pillow that's damp can result in mildewy down. If pillows have a musty smell after drying, place them in a sunny area for a couple of hours.


Make sure that there are no tears in the pillows' ticking (or along the seams) prior to washing and drying them. Most feather pillows are made of cotton ticking, so they may shrink during the home-laundering process.

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About the Author

Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.