Problems with down? We can help!

February 12, 2021

Down ComforterDuring the fall and winter, many of us depend on down comforters, sleeping bags, and apparel to keep warm and cut down on energy costs. Although down has superior insulating properties, it can present problems that require special care.

Fine down and feathers can puncture and work through the shell fabric, causing holes or tears in the outer shell layer. To prevent damage, down garments are “down proofed,” in which an inner coating is applied to the fabric.

However, some “down proof” coatings may dissolve in washing or dry cleaning. Once the coating is removed, darker-colored feathers and any other impurities in the down or feathers may show through the surface of the fabric. Since it is impossible to detect non-durable coatings before cleaning, the dry cleaner may not be able to prevent damage to the item. If the protective coating is damaged, restoration is no longer possible.

Another problem with down-filled items is the appearance of dark, shaded areas on the shell fabric after dry cleaning. In many cases, this staining is caused by excess oil from the down itself, due to poor processing during manufacturing.

This oil may react to the cleaning fluids and penetrate the shell fabric, causing discoloration. Sometimes the oil can be removed by re-cleaning the item several times, or by wet cleaning. Keep in mind that not all articles respond to these processes.

Down comforters that are poorly constructed and with insufficient quilting can cause the down to shift, lose shape, or become matted. To avoid these problems, you should only buy down comforters that are well-quilted. That means quilting lines should be about 8–10 inches apart both vertically and horizontally.

For more information on caring for down items, please call Utopia Cleaners at 617-695-3778 or visit our dry cleaners in Boston, Newton, Woburn and Arlington. We are more than happy to help.