Cleaning 101: How to Wash a Doona (or Quilt) the Right Way

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You just finished cleaning your sheets and tucked yourself in for bed, but something still stinks and it’s probably your doona. 

Doonas (or quilt, for our American friends) can be a great addition to any bedroom, but they need to be washed correctly in order to maintain their quality and keep you warm and cozy. In this post, we will teach you how to wash a doona the right way. 

tips to clean doona

Can You Wash Doonas? And How Often?​

Just like your sheets and clothes, your doona also needs to be regularly washed to get rid of the combination of dead skin, sweat, bacteria, and even dust mites that build up over time and can cause allergic reactions.

Before washing your doona, you should always check the care label. Most doonas are made of natural fibres like feather, down, cotton or wool and can be machine washed, but some doonas made with delicate fabrics like silk or velvet should be only dry cleaned.

While it’s clear that cleaning your doona should be part of your laundry routine, consider these factors when considering how often you’re doing so:

  • USE: if you regularly have direct contact with your doona while you sleep and do not use a flat sheet, duvet, or a combination of the two, your doona will be more exposed to the elements and therefore should be washed more frequently – about once every two to three months. Those with pets who regularly lounge or sleep on your bed, should also increase the frequency- about once a month.
  • EXPOSURE: if you tend to sweat excessively while you sleep, you should consider washing your doona every three to four weeks. However, if you have an accident or have recently gotten over an illness, it’s important to launder it right away.
  • MAXIMUM: The absolute maximum you should go between washes is once every six months

The material also factors into how frequently it should be washed, but suggestions vary. When in doubt, read the care instructions.

Care Instructions: Read The Label

Every doona and quilt, like most home goods, has care instructions that will assist you in your cleaning. These instructions are important to keeping both your doona and sometimes your machines in excellent shape for years to come.

If your doona’s instructions indicate “dry clean only,” it’s recommended to stop your attempts at a home cleaning there and proceed immediately to your closest dry cleaners. It’s possible that other care methods could result in damaging your doona and you should proceed with caution.

Some care instructions may indicate the type of washer required to get the job done. If the tag states “front-load washer only,” it’s indicative that a top-load washer could sustain damage to the agitator during the washing process. Part of this is likely due to how incredibly heavy doonas become when wet.

Repair

Depending on how long you’ve had your doona, it might be a little worse-for-wear and in dire need of additional TLC.

If any seams have come loose, or if there are any tears in the fabric when it gets washed, it could cause the stuffing to come out and damage your machine (if using one for cleaning).

If the wear is small and can be done at home, there are a variety of options to do so. However, if the damage is too extensive, it might be time to go shopping for a new doona.

How to Wash Your Doona - Step by Step Instructions

Spot Clean & Fight Stains

If it’s been a while and your doona has seen better days with fewer stains, it might be a good idea to spot-clean those tough spots before washing. Use the below methods to fight any stains:

  • Blood: apply a mild laundry detergent to the area and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing in cold water. Hydrogen peroxide can be applied at the beginning or end to help further lift the stain.
  • Coffee: combine distilled vinegar with water and dish soap and apply liberally to the area.
  • Lipstick: use the back of a butter knife to gently scrape any excess off the material. Dab the area with isopropyl alcohol and rinse with cold water.

TIP: Before spot-cleaning, it’s recommended to move any filling out of the way of the spot-cleaner, so the material doesn’t get wet before washing.

Tips to wash doona infographics

Hand-washing

While hand-washing wouldn’t be my first recommendation, it is possible to wash a doona by hand if there aren’t the means to do it by machine. It is a time-consuming process, but if done well, will result in a refreshingly clean doona that’s ready for you by lights out.

  1. Find a large container or use your bathtub as a washing basin. 
    TIP: If using a bathtub, first rid the tub of any soap scum or other grime that could further dirty your doona during the cleaning process.
  2. Place your doona in the tub and fill it with cold water.
  3. Add a mild detergent to the water and use your hands to gently work the detergent into your doona.
    TIP: If you have sensitive skin like me, wear rubber gloves that will protect your hands from the detergent.
  4. Allow your doona to soak for 30 minutes.
  5. Drain your tub and rinse your doona out in clean, cold water. Repeat as necessary until the water runs clear.
    TIP: Before drying your doona, roll up your doona in the tub to squeeze out excess water. 

How To Machine Wash a Doona

It’s crucial to ensure you use a suitable machine to get the job done. Doonas get bulky when wet, so use a large capacity washing machine. A front-load washing machine with a weight capacity of 7 to 8 kg is ideal for washing most doonas at home. 

Top load washing machines with a central agitator can damage the fabric of your doona, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.

  1. [Optional] If your doona is very dirty, you can pre-soak it in cool water with some gentle detergent for 30 minutes.
  2. Wash the doona on a gentle cycle (800 to 1000 RPM and temperature no more than 40c or 104 F). Do not use hot water, as this can shrink the doona and cause the colours to bleed.
  3. Make sure not to overload your washing machine. A good rule of thumb is to only wash one doona at a time.
  4. Use a mild detergent (without any bleach)
  5. [Optional] If your machine has an extra rinse option, use it to rinse the doona at least twice to remove any soap residue.
  6. To dry your doona, you can either line dry it or tumble dry on a low heat setting. If you are line drying, make sure to smooth out any wrinkles as the doona dries.
  7. When your doona is finished washing, do not let it sit in the washing machine for too long, as this can cause it to smell musty.

Consider Your Doonas’s Materials

The materials of your doona will also determine the method of washing.

  • Feather and down-fill: wash in cold or warm water with mild detergent on a delicate cycle.
    TIP: Use less detergent and add an extra rinse cycle to ensure all soap has been removed.
  • Poly-fill: wash in cold or warm water with mild detergent on a delicate cycle.
    TIP: Avoid hot water as it can cause stains to set or the fabric to shrink or wrinkle. Also avoid using fabric softeners as it can block the weave in the fabric and reduces its fire-retardant properties.
  • Wool: wash in cold water with wool-specific detergent on a delicate cycle. Skip any slow spin-cycles and set your machine to a medium/high cycle to remove excess water.
    TIP: Wool doonas can lose their shape during the washing process if the space is too cramped. Wool doonas should only be air-dried.

Drying Methods

With or without a machine, drying your doona also requires special care.

Flat/Line Dry:

If it’s bright sunny weather, doonas can take up to two days to completely dry. If you’re patient and have the time, this is the best method as it doesn’t strain the fabric.

  1. Redistribute the filling of your doona.
  2. Lay doona on a flat surface, or hang on a line.
  3. Allow it to dry completely (you may need to flip your doona throughout the drying process to allow both sides and the filling to completely dry).

TIP: Expedite the process if inside by using a fan.

Machine Dry: 
Depending on your dryer, it can take anywhere from two hours to eight hours to dry your doona. Be sure to check the care label first as some fabrics can’t be tumble dried.

  1. Redistribute the filling of your doona.
  2. Place in your dryer with dryer balls or tennis balls in socks to help fluff.
  3. Every 20 minutes, remove the doona and adjust the filling as necessary.
  4. Dry completely at a low-heat setting (52°C or 125 F).

TIP: While redistributing the filling, if any sections are clumping together, it’s indicative that a portion of the filling is still wet and needs to dry longer.

Give It A Refresh

You can keep your doona clean between washes by using a steamer to stave off the germs and reduce the wrinkles in the fabric. It’s important to not use any sort of direct heat, like with ironing, on a down doona as it can cause the feathers and filling to melt.

If you want to maintain the clean-fresh scent of laundry day between washes, there is a way to do so. A pillow spray or fabric mist can be used after the steam-clean to keep your doona smelling fresh. If you happen to use essential oils, it’s not recommended to use them in the steamer itself as the oils are not water-soluble, so they won’t turn into steam. This can clog and damage the steamer.

FAQs

Yes, you can wash feather doonas, but you need to be careful. Feathers are delicate and can easily be damaged. The best way to wash a feather doona is by hand in lukewarm water using a mild detergent. Be sure to rinse the doona thoroughly and let it air dry completely before using it again.

No, you should avoid ironing your doona. The heat from the iron can damage the doona’s filling.

There are a few different ways you can remove wrinkles from a doona. One option is to use a steamer. Another is to fill a spray bottle with water and lightly mist the wrinkled doona. 

Place the doona in a dryer in the lowest heat setting. If the doona is down, you can add a couple of dryer balls or clean tennis balls to help fluff it up. Whichever method you choose, be sure to check the care label first to make sure it won’t damage the doona.

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve cleaned your doona, you can be rest assured your rest won’t be disrupted by any smells or troublesome thoughts about dust mites.

Taylor Malottki

Taylor Malottki

Taylor Malottki is a light sleeper and struggled with getting consistent sleep. Her sleep pattern has varied over the years and for a long time going to bed late and waking early became routine. While she is still a light sleeper, she has started utilizing mindfulness meditation techniques, melatonin supplements, and limiting her caffeine intake to a single coffee in the mornings. She still indulges in a soda habit that so many struggle to kick, but she opts for caffeine-free and sugar-free sodas that help her get her carbonation fix. When she’s not sleeping, Taylor spends her days working as an insurance underwriter and freelance content-creator. Find her on LinkedIn.

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