Although cleaning down items usually is not a problem, a comforter with poor construction and insufficient quilting can cause the down to shift, lose shape, or become matted. Inspect the comforter for these things before purchasing:
Make sure the comforter is well quilted. Quilting stitches should run both vertically and horizontally with quilting lines about 8–10 inches apart.
Check the strength of the stitching. Comforters with loose stitching can allow the down to shift.
Check for fullness in the quilted areas. Thicker filling will provide more insulation.
Comforter Care Tips
Comforters rarely become soiled as they rest atop the other blankets and coverings on a bed, but sooner or later they will acquire some kind of staining or collect enough dust to warrant a cleaning. Comforters left in direct sunlight can become discolored or faded due to the direct light on the dye. It is best to keep comforters and heirloom quilts out of direct light to prevent damage. Here are some comforter cleaning tips:
Follow the care instructions carefully.
Tailored and quilted bedspreads, as well as comforters that are too large for home machine washing, should be taken to your professional cleaner.
Clean or launder all matching or coordinated items (pillow shams, dust ruffles, curtains) together to ensure that any color loss will be uniform.
Before cleaning, inspect the comforter for cuts, tears, or weak areas. A quilted article becomes quite heavy when immersed in solvent or water and, during cleaning, these small rips, tears, and holes can enlarge.
Clean spots and stains quickly to prevent permanent damage to the textile and color.
Remember that light exposure, atmospheric conditions, and time alone can affect dyes and cleaning performance.
Zip-on covers can be purchased to help protect down comforters. These covers can easily be removed for regular cleaning and slipped back on.
If in doubt about cleaning a comforter, check with your professional cleaner. Through adequate testing and expert cleaning procedures, your cleaner can prevent many of the problems mentioned.
Fabric Glossary: Pilling
Whether you call them pills, fuzz balls, tangles, or knots they are a nuisance and can make a fairly new garment look old. Pills are created when the material is rubbed either against itself or another surface. The short fibers pull out of the fabric yarns during wear and tangle themselves with the ends of other fibers held in the yarn. They can only be removed by breaking the fibers that hold them. Pilling is more prevalent in fabrics of loosely twisted yarns made with short fibers. Some of the newer synthetic fibers are particularly prone to this problem. Because these fibers are stronger, the pills do not break off from the fabric as readily as they would on a natural fiber such as wool.