How to Clean Bulky Winter Bedding

Your winter bedroom hibernation might feel cozy, but washing up is not quite as appealing. Bulky items rarely fit in a standard machine, and fabrics containing wool tend to shrink when mistreated. Nevertheless, cozy can be clean, too.


Feather pillows and duvets can be thrown into the washing machine as long as you use a little mild detergent. Hot and cold water are too corrosive for these fillers, and leftover detergent can be just as harsh. Use a lukewarm wash and add an extra rinse cycle for good measure.


Woven blankets need to be brushed before washing to prevent stains and dulling. Hand washing with a specialized shampoo is best, but do so often. Wool tends to degrade when soiled. To retain your bedding’s shape, dry your wool flat on a towel before depilling with a razor. When winter’s long gone, protect your bedding from insects by storing it in cedar.

Electric Blankets

Mattress pads and the like are designed to be washed. Generally, cords and controls can be removed—a step that should never be skipped. Pretreat stains and wash with cool or warm water. Electric blankets can be heavy, so balance the washer’s load with towels. If your machine is too small, simply handwash pads in the bath, but avoid hot water, which will cause shrinking. Keep these devices away from your dry cleaner because commercial machines tend to damage wiring.

Foam Pads

Foam pillows and mattress pads can be vacuumed to dislodge dirt and mites. If your topper is small enough for your bathtub, give it a gentle hand wash with a mild detergent and oxygen-based bleach.

Bulky bedding needs large front load washers, but commercial grade machines handle weight better. Conventional dry cleaners are often too harsh on fabrics, so it’s best to take a trip to your local laundromat.

A quality mattress can give you all the comfort and temperature control you need on cold desert nights. Read our tips on cleaning mattresses.

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