Most people understand the danger of mold and mildew growth within the home. These spores most commonly grow in moist areas, especially bathrooms, and can cause infections and illness among the members of the household. When mildew pops up in unexpected places, however, it can be even more dangerous. Mildew can be found anywhere damp, including within your down comforter if it is not cleaned and dried properly. Take proper care of your comforter and you can avoid and remove this mildew.
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Before you attempt to remove mildew from your comforter, assess the damage. If there are only a few spots of mildew, or the mildew appears on the surface, you should be able to remove it. If the mildew has seeped into the down feathers, the comforter is ruined; it will not be safe to use it.
When preparing to remove mildew from the down comforter, pull the surface up away from the down feather filling as much as possible. Try not to get these feathers wet. Additionally, the products you will use to kill the mildew (bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide) can disintegrate the sensitive down feathers.
Mix a cleaning solution using two parts warm water and one part mildew killer, generally bleach, hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar. Use cotton swabs to apply only a small amount of the solution to the surface; if you are dealing with large stains you can spray the solution on, but only use as much as you need. Be careful not to wet the comforter more than you need to.
Let the solution work on the mildew for two or three minutes, then wipe away with a soft white cloth dampened with plain water. Repeat cleaning and rinsing as necessary to remove all of the mildew.
Remember that if you have trouble with this cleaning, or are not successful in removing the mildew, you can consult a professional cleaner. Cleaners have access to cleaning solutions and tools that can help remove these tougher stains.
The easiest way to keep your family safe from mildew is to prevent it altogether. There are some fairly basic ways to prevent the growth of mildew in your comforter. Do your best to keep your down comforter dry at all times. Avoid drinking or eating near the comforter to avoid spills. If a spill does occur, clean it up as soon as possible, and run the comforter through a drying cycling to make sure all moisture is removed.
Many manufacturers of down comforters suggest that you have your down comforters cleaned professionally, to ensure proper drying and avoid mildew buildup. If you do wash your comforter at home, dry the comforter in a dryer, on a low heat setting. It may take 8 to 12 hours to fully dry a down comforter.
If you are storing your down comforter, also store it in a cool, dry place to avoid the buildup of moisture, which leads to mildew growth. Never store your comforter in a plastic bag, because these bags do not allow for airflow and promote the growth of mildew. If you do not have access to a breathable storage bag, wrap your comforter in cotton towels or old cotton clothing, as cotton will breathe and allow proper airflow.