Q: I cleaned a down comforter and tears developed at the stitching lines. Is there a way to prevent this type of damage?
A: Tears in down comforters usually occur when the item is extracted while it is heavy with solvent. The fabric tears at the stitching lines, which are used to keep the down distributed evenly in the comforter. The weight of the solvent-laden down causes excessive tension and stress on the fabric, resulting in tears.
While the problem may not be completely eliminated, it may be possible to prevent this damage by minimizing the amount of extraction when the item is full of solvent. Clean on a short cycle (3-5 minutes), drain 3 minutes, manually extract (10-15 seconds). At this length of time, extraction will not reach full speed, therefore minimizing stress. When the wheel stops, repeat manual extraction only until most of the solvent has been removed from the comforter. Finally, run a normal (2 minutes) high-speed extraction, and dry completely.
Professional wetcleaning of down comforters may prevent such damage since water is lighter than solvent and extraction can be done at lower speeds. Follow
the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and extraction of down filled items.