My Down Comforter Smells

Updated February 21, 2017

Down comforters are a type of comforter that is filled with down feathers in place of polyester, wool or cotton fillings. Down comforters have been used for many years to keep people warm in their beds, especially in colder climates. A down comforter may smell depending on how it was manufactured, the quality of down used in the comforter and the way the comforter has been taken care of.

Down Quality

The down used in down comforters varies greatly in quality, depending on the country it originated from, the quality of the fowl that it was harvested from and the procedures used for gathering, harvesting and cleaning the down. Countries, such as China, which produces a large amount of commercially used down, do not have the same quality standards in place for down production. Poor quality down from birds that may not have been kept in good, clean condition may have a strange or bad smell to it.

Down Harvesting

Improper cleaning techniques during the harvesting and preparation of the down prior to the manufacture of the comforter can cause a down comforter to smell strangely or badly. Feathers have to be washed and sanitised prior to use. If the washing and sanitising is not as efficient as it should be, your comforter may have an unpleasant odour to it. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to thoroughly investigate the quality of down items before buying.


Down comforters are fragile, as far as bedding goes. Frequent washing can damage a down comforter, so it is generally recommended to keep down comforters covered with protective duvets, which can be removed and washed whenever necessary without requiring the entire comforter to be washed. If a down comforter is washed and not dried properly, the feathers inside of it can mildew or mould, causing bad smells and potentially dangerous contaminants. It is important to make sure your down comforter gets completely and thoroughly dried after washing.

Other Causes

Virtually everything has some kind of smell to it. Smells on a brand new comforter could be caused by the location where it was stored, what it was stored in or protectants and treatments that were used on it during the manufacturing process. Over time, comforters are exposed to human bodies, pets, smells inside homes (cigarettes, air fresheners, perfume, moth balls, etc.) that the fabric and feathers can absorb over time. If your down comforter smells, you may want to have it dry cleaned and then give it some time to sit outside and air out to try to reduce the smell.

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About the Author

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.