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Down Comforter Information & Care

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Introduction:
Buying down bedding products involves decisions & knowledge. We have gathered information to help you understand what to look for when buying natural bedding. Down is the light fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of waterfowl that protect them from the elements. Most down can be found on the belly of geese and ducks, as this is the part that is exposed to water and must keep the bird warm. Down is a three dimensional cluster with thousands of tiny fibers, but no quill. In every pound of feathers, there are only four to five ounces of down. It is the most naturally efficient insulator, yet light and lofty. It takes 14 wool blankets to equal the temperature control of one down comforter! Additionally, down has the marvelous ability to breathe, lifting away perspiration so you don't experience the clamminess which often occurs with synthetics. The light weight and softness of the down allows the comforter to drape around the body. Virtually all down and feathers are harvested from geese and ducks. In general, the larger the bird (like geese) and the colder the climate in which they live, the larger the down clusters and the higher the fill power of the down. High quality down can be found in both ducks and geese, as the age and climate of bird from different parts of the world dramatically effects its quality. Duck down and feathers are generally less expensive than goose down and feathers. Down and feathers can come in various shades ranging from pure white to black speckled grey. Typically, the industry has placed a premium on white feathers and down due to its ability to visually blend in better when filled into white bedding products. However color of the feathers and down has no relevance to its quality. Down and feather bedding can be made using a variety of fabrics for the outer material known as the 'shell' or 'tick'. Typically, cotton is used because of the ability to easily wick moisture. Shells can be made from using numerous fibers (cotton, rayon, silk) and weaves (Jacquard, Dobby, Damask, Sateen, Twill). The most important thing is that the surface facing the down and feathers is down proof. This is performed using a combination of these methods: making the weave very dense, applying a special surface agent, or calenderizing. The shells can also have additional surface interest (decoration) by several methods.

Fill Power
Fill power is a measure of how 'fluffy' or 'lofty' down is. The higher the fill power, the more it traps air, and it's trapped air that keeps the sleeper warm. The actual test involves weighing and filling a cylinder tube with 28.4 grams of down. A specially calibrated weight is then placed on top of the cylinder and its weight is slowly allowed to fall onto the down for 60 seconds. The higher the fill power, the loftier the down is and the better an insulator it is. The typical fill power is approximately 500 and can reach as high as 800 or more in premium bedding or special sleeping bags. As fill power increases, the value of the down goes up significantly.
Maintenance
Generally, down comforters and pillows and featherbeds should be shaken out daily to restore their loft. With fixed construction comforters (i.e., baffle box and sewn-through boxes), the down will not move from outside its respective box during the shaking. When stripping the sheets off the bed and featherbed protector, the consumer also may wish to fluff out the featherbed to give its loft back. Consumers can also tumble dry their down products to get some extra loft. It is a great idea to protect a comforter, pillow, or feather bed with a fabric cover of some sort. Duvet covers for comforters, pillow protectors, and feather bed protectors are worthwhile investments that extend the life of down bedding significantly. Additionally, by using a duvet cover, the consumer is able to change the look of their bed, simply by changing the cover but keeping the same comforter. Down and feathers have no preset time for spoilage they can last dozens of years if well treated.
Washing & Dry Cleaning
Most consumers chose to have their down bedding professionally dry cleaned, but most fabrics allow gentle machine washing, if the washer is large enough to accommodate the product. Using a small amount of mild dish detergent is a good way to clean the bedding. Avoid using laundry detergent as it leaves a phosphate coating on the down clusters and reduces the ability for the down to regain its loft. When dry cleaning, they must not use harsh chemicals that damage the down and the down proof-ness of the fabric resulting in leakage. The drying cycle is imperative. Down must be DRIED COMPLETELY. Damp down can become moldy and develop an odor. Where dry cleaners use high heat to fast dry, we dry on low heat for several hours. Not only is this gentler on the comforter, but also serves to ensure the comforter is utterly dry. Putting a couple tennis balls with it in the dryer also helps restore loft.


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