For those of you who have no idea what goose down is, let’s start by talking about what down is. Down feathers are the softest layers of feathers on a bird. They are the layer closest to the bird’s skin, so down is not just limited to goose; it can be any kind of bird feather. Down feathers can be found inside a range of products, including pillows, blankets, jackets, and gloves.
Many people purchase goose down products during winter because goose down keeps you warm. And we all know just how hard it can be to warm up on those cold winter nights! While goose down is an excellent way to help you stay warm, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its downfalls. One of the worst things about purchasing goose-down products is the goose down smell. The good news is even though the smell may be off-putting, there are several methods you can try when learning how to get rid of goose down the smell.
This post will first go over some of the more common products that contain goose down. After going over those, we will talk about some of the more successful methods you can try to get rid of the goose-down smell.
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Examples of Products that Contain Goose Down
When it comes to products filled with goose down, many people think of winter bedding. Goose down is used in both comforters and duvets, but you can also find goose down pillows. As the entire purpose behind goose down, aside from comfort, is warmth, you shouldn’t be shocked to learn that you can find goose down winter jackets. Other products that contain goose down include mattress covers, sleeping bags, sofas, vests, and gloves.
No matter what product you own, goose down is meant to be soft, warm, and comfortable. The only problem is when the products get wet because the feathers give off this musty, farm-life smell. It’s not a smell you want following you around, nor is it something you want to transfer to other clothing you are wearing. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks to rid your goose down products of that musty smell for good.
Method One: Ridding Wet Goose Down of the Musty Smell
If your jacket or other goose down item is wet and musty smelling, the first thing to do is hang it over some kind of drying rack to let it air dry. Drying in direct sunlight is a bonus, as it will help kill any odors. Once dry, wash the clothing in warm water inside a washing machine. Use a mild detergent and one cup of vinegar with the correct washing cycle. The washing cycle can be found on the item being laundered care tag.
As soon as it’s done washing, remove it from the machine. Do not let it sit inside the washing machine for an extended period, or risk the musty smell returning. After tossing it in the dryer, add two towels and three new tennis balls to the drum. The towels will absorb excess moisture, and the tennis balls aid in fluffing. Plus, they prevent the down from clumping together in just one spot. Use low heat and run at least one to two cycles.
Remove from the dryer and finish drying the clothing on a dryer rack in the sun. Position the item so that the weight is evenly distributed across the rack. Once one side is dry, flip it over to allow the other side to dry completely. Once done, hang the clothing in a dry location. The dry location prevents the item from reabsorbing any moisture.
Method Two: Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
Now goose down doesn’t smell as strong as duck down, but it’s still not an odor you want to sleep with. Something interesting to note is that the odors are often caused by one of two things: the oils from the feather or prolonged exposure to heat or humidity.
One of the fastest ways to get rid of the down smell is to wash the bedding with a single teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid. You can try other liquid dish soaps known as degreasers, but we recommend Dawn. After washing the bedding, place them in the dryer for several cycles. Most down-style bedding requires three drying cycles to remove all the moisture, so take it out and move things around between each cycle.
To remove odors further, you can toss in a dryer sheet during the drying cycle. Some people find inserting a dryer sheet into the bedding or pillow protector is another way to remove the musty odor. If you are going to sleep with the dryer sheet inside your items, put it in the bottom of the bedding or the underside of the pillow. Scents on dryer sheets can be strong, making it difficult for some people to sleep.
Method Three: Removing Funky Odors from Pillows
If your goose down pillow smells funky, whether it’s brand new or has been used a handful of times, this method is just right for you. The first step is to make sure the pillow is no longer enclosed in a pillowcase. Once the pillowcase is off, place the pillow outside to allow them to air out. You want to flip and fluff the pillows every couple of hours to ensure every surface is exposed to fresh air.
That night bring the pillows inside and inspect the seams for any tears or rips. If needed, fix the holes with a needle and thread. The fastest way to spot a hole is by looking for feathers poking out. Once the holes are repaired, place two pillows at a time into the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle with cold water along with mild detergent to wash them. When adding detergent, use about half of what you would use for a normal load. Run an extra rinse cycle to remove all soap. An extra spin cycle will help remove excess water, so use it if your machine has it.
After washing, fluff the pillows up and separate any clumps you find before placing them inside the dryer. Use the lowest heat setting along with a few tennis balls. Halfway through the drying cycle, pull out the pillows, fluff them up, and then place them back in the dryer to complete the cycle. If the pillows are still wet, repeat this process. If they are still a little damp after a second cycle, you can finish drying them on a rack or run a partial cycle. Never use or store the pillows until an hour or so after they have finished drying.
Method Four: Spot Treating Stains and Airing Them Out
If you don’t have time to go to the laundry mat to use one of their large capacity machines, which is the ideal one to use when washing a down comforter, you can spot-treat the comforter at home and air it out to help remove any musty odors. To air out the comforter, place it on a clothesline or something similar on a warm sunny day. Flip it over every few hours to ensure all surfaces are exposed to sunlight. NEVER use a deodorizing spray on a down comforter, as it can ruin the natural oils on the down feathers, also known as stripping the down.
Method Five: Removing Musty Smells from Down Comforters
Use a laundry stain stick to treat any noticeable stains on your down comforter. Allow the stain remover to sit on the stain for at least an hour; two hours might work better. Choose a delicate or gentle setting and pre-fill the machine with warm water. Add one cup of vinegar and the normal amount o mild laundry soap. Place the comforter and a pair of tennis shoes inside the washing machine. The tennis shoes prevent the comforter from bunching up inside the machine during the wash cycle.
Once the washing machine has completed its cycle, remove the comforter and tennis shoes and place both inside the dryer. Run a cycle on low heat. Remove the comforter from the dryer and finish drying on a clothes rack outside to remove any lingering odors.
Method Six: Textile Deodorants
Although using a textile deodorant is a great way to help eliminate the goose down smell, it is not always the right solution. So proceed with caution when trying this method, as you might have to use it in conjunction with other odor-removal methods. Textile deodorants work for all kinds of goose down, but sometimes they only mask the smell rather than remove it permanently. When using these products, you want to ensure they are specifically made for textiles.
These products work by adhering to the fibers of the bedding, clothing, or pillows, which allows them to eliminate any foul odors. How much of the product you apply depends on how bad the goose down smell is. A little bit often goes a long way, so apply it lightly at first. You can always reapply if the smell isn’t entirely gone. After applying a textile deodorant, place the bedding, pillow, or clothing outside to air out.
Method Seven: Remove the Goose Down
This method is a bit on the extreme side, and we only recommend this highly effective method for pillows. Removing the goose down from clothing and other bedding is difficult, if not impossible because these items don’t utilize zippers to hold the goose down inside. To remove the goose from your pillow, you will need to open up the pillow and remove all of the filling. Do this carefully and inside the house so nothing gets blown away.
Transfer the goose down into a large bucket filled with warm water and a biodegradable detergent that is safe for down feathers.
Allow it to soak in the bucket for several minutes. After soaking, thoroughly rinse the goose down feathers to remove all traces of detergent. Allow the feathers to dry before you place them back inside the pillow. How you dry the filling varies, but one method that works well is using a hair dryer on low and high heat. The handheld hair dryer allows you to slowly dry the down filling as you fluff it to ensure it doesn’t lose shape.
Method Eight: Baking Soda and Vinegar Works Wonders
Before washing, you want to place the pillow, clothing, or bedding outside in the fresh air. You can hang it on a clothesline or lay it on a flat surface; just make sure it’s clean first. If the goose down items is flat, flip them over every couple of hours to expose all sides to the fresh air.
After allowing the goose down items to air out, you want to move forward with washing them using baking soda and vinegar. You want to use both of these because they both are natural deodorizers. Use the gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine. Add in ¼ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar. Run the washing cycle, plus an extra rinse and spin cycle. You can either air dry or machine dry your goose down items. Be sure to read the care instructions on the labels when using the dryer. Always thoroughly dry the items; any leftover moisture can result in the smell returning.
Goose down items, whether a pillow, comforter, duvet, jacket, sleeping bag, or anything else, are excellent at keeping you warm and cozy. The only downfall to these items is the smell. Many people want to know how to get rid of goose down smell, so they can enjoy the warmth and coziness the items provide.
Not all of these methods will work for you; some will vary in effectiveness because of the size of your washing machine. If you don’t have a large enough machine to wash a comforter or sleeping bag, you can head to your local laundry mat or have your items professionally dry-cleaned to get the goose down smell out.