How do you clean goose feather pillows? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have 6 goose feather pillows that are starting to smell musty. Any way to clean them without the toxic chemicals of dry cleaning? Harmony

-- Harmony (, January 17, 2002


I've always just put mine in the sunshine for several hours and they smell really fresh. You'd want to turn them sometime during the day, of course. I have a really neat book called Natural Cleaning for your Home that has some great recipes for non-toxic cleaning solutions. It's by Casey Kellar, by the way. Good luck!

-- Karen Braun (, January 17, 2002.

You can very gently handwash with a very mild soap or detergent (usually backpacking stores it for the sleeping bags) in the bathtub. I would also recommend putting a small window screen underneath so that you can lift them up flat and let them drain evenly for a while before you put them in the dryer on low heat/gentle cycle with a tennis ball or small shoe to help fluff them up (they take a while to dry, but keep checking them). And always (though you probably do this already) put them in a zippered slipcase before you put the pillowcase on. If the fabric weave of the pillow itself is loose (you are losing feathers here and there), you may want to put the feathers into a new pillow.

Just a note, usually dry cleaners will wash them, not dry clean. If you do have a backpacking outfit nearby (like REI), they might wash them at a reasonable price--never hurts to ask. Hope this helps.

-- GT (, January 17, 2002.

Would respectfully disagree with you, Karen, on the Casey Kellar book. It's basically recipes like you'd find in Heloise's and other books, dressed up in pretty pictures. Some of the recipes even use chemicals like ammonia, which is hardly non-toxic.

A better book would be Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan (the recipes are even safe for children to use), or Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond.

Now that I think about it, you could probably wash the pillows in a mild baby shampoo, for that matter.

-- GT (, January 17, 2002.

Down can be washed in a front loading washer with woolite; I use the same natural liquid soap that I use for all of my laundry. I also tumble dry on the lowest heat setting (it takes about two hours to dry a parka). For pillows, I also add chlorine bleach.

-- Kevin (, January 17, 2002.

to help control dust mites, put the pillows in the freezer every now and then.

-- carol (, January 17, 2002.

I live by a different set of cleaning rules...rule number 1: NEVER WASH ANYTHING CONTAINING FEATHERS!!!...the feather has a natural oil on it that protcts it and keeps it from breaking. If you remove this coating ( ie...soap..dry cleaning...shampoo...ect..) they will loose their FLUFF. I advocate sunning. This is the best way to freshen, and disenfect them, while expanding their life at the head of your bed.

-- Kristean Thompson (, January 17, 2002.

Wow, I was geting a weird has my memory slipped feeling, I agree with Kristean, I also was taught to never get feathers wet, as it causes lumping. Which I have seen happen. I surface wash with a damp rag, for light soiling, and open the 'bag' remove the feathers to a box with a screen on top to sun them and wash/dry the 'bag' and replace the feathers into the 'bag'. It only needs to be done maybe every 3 to 5 years,

-- Thumper (, January 18, 2002.

I have to share this. Many years ago, I washed two feather pillows in the automatic washer. Well, I put them in the dryer on low for a long time. When I opened the door, there was a solid wall of feathers. Oy vey, one case had come open. What a mess! DH had to take the machine apart and clean feathers out of every part of the thing. Never again!

-- Ardie /WI (, January 18, 2002.

I had feather pillows made from my great grandmother's mattress. I never washed. sunshine and the freezer treatment - just left outside in freezing weather before I had one in the house. put into a new ticking every few yrs. I don't know how long they can be kept but when mine [the feathers] were about 80 yrs old they seemed to be deteriating so badly, they became garden mulch. I miss my feather pillows.

-- carol (, January 18, 2002.

I think the newer down soaps on the market preserve the oils in the feathers (I mean, we wash wool, don't we?) you could maybe add a teaspoon of oil or hair conditioner (as you might also with wool), and I don't think freezing and sunshine are going to do a whole lot for, say, drool on pillows (yeccch!).

You can probably wash the newer down pillows in frontloaders on gentle no problem (might be worth a laundromat trip if you don't have one). Putting older ones each in a rubber-banded pillowcase (like you would with stuffed animals would protect against a feather disaster in the washer and dryer. Just a thought.

-- GT (, January 18, 2002.

Please don't ever wash any protein based fabric (wool, silk, mohair, etc.) or feathers in Woolite. When it first came out, it was formulated for hand laundering these things. Several years ago, the formula was changed for washing synthetics as that was more common and an enzyme was added to remove perspiration and blood. This enzyme will cause protein fibers and such to deteriorate as well. I've seen this bit of information in my fiber arts magazines and it was documented.

We have down jackets and vests and the down cleaners are very mild and effective, even in the washer on the gentle cycle. Drying them is a major problem and in addition to the tennis ball, knead the garment occasionally during drying to break up clumps of still damp down.

-- marilyn (, January 20, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ