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How often should you wash your duvet or comforter? Spoiler: More than you think, according to experts

Experts say that you should wash your duvet or comforter for clean, fresh and hygienic bed.

Ever snuggle up in your freshly washed sheets after showering with a warm mug of chamomile tea, only to realize that you have absolutely zero idea when the last time was — if ever — you washed your comforter? Yeah, you're not alone.

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Sure, your duvet or comforter is protected by layers of sheets and duvet covers, but that doesn't mean you can skip the cleaning process. One study conducted by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that duvets are basically Club Med for dust mites. Gross.

Don't worry, we tapped in the experts to help break down just how often you should be washing your fluffy, marshmallow-y comforters and duvets for a fresh, clean, allergen- and dust mite-free beauty sleep.

A bed as cozy as this needs a clean duvet! (Getty)
A bed as cozy as this needs a clean duvet! (Getty)

First, what's the difference between a duvet and a comforter?

Yes, they both look alike, basically do the same thing and the names are often used interchangeably — even by the brands that sell them! Confusing, I know. But there are some crucial differences between the two.

Duvet: Often called a duvet insert, a duvet is designed to be shoved inside of a duvet cover. It's quilted and filled with warm goodness, like down feathers or down-alternative materials. Unlike a comforter, a duvet is not meant to be seen.

Comforter: Just like a duvet, a comforter is thick, soft and stuffed with filling. However, a comforter does not come with or need a removable exterior. Think of a comforter as a stylish duvet cover with a duvet insert that you can't take out.

How often should you wash your comforter or duvet?

The answer? It depends. If you're just sleeping with a comforter, you should wash it as frequently as you wash your sheets — even if you always sleep under a top sheet. "Sweat and anything else that gets on the sheets can also seep through that layer," explains Mona Gohara, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine.

If you use a duvet insert or comforter with a duvet cover, you can go longer between washes. According to sleep expert Shelby Harris, MD, Director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis, you should be washing or swapping out your duvet every three to six months to keep things fresh and hygienic.

No matter what, though, you have to be washing both. Not only can things like sweat, bacteria and other gunk accumulate on your comforter and duvet, you also need to be careful of dust mites. According to Mayo Clinic, humans are constantly shedding skin cells. Dust mites eat skin cells, so where are they going to go? Where they can find skin cells.

The moral of the story? Just wash your comforter or duvet.

How should you wash your duvet or comforter?

To keep your comforter or duvet as warm and fluffy as possible, Harris says that you should follow the care instructions very closely as they differ from product to product. Most brands suggest washing your duvet or comforter on the gentle cycle with cold water.

After washing, either tumble-dry on low or let it dry outside in the sun. Just make sure it's fully dry! The Environmental Protection Agency warns that any surface exposed to water and moisture can build up mildew, mold, bacteria and other pathogens, which is the last thing you want for your newly clean duvet or comforter.

Washing and drying larger duvets and comforters at home can be tricky, as they might not fit in your washing machine. If that's the case, consider using the industrial-sized machines at your local laundromat or sending it out to the dry cleaners.

How often should you replace your duvet or comforter?

Even though it's important to keep your duvet or comforter clean, regular washing (even if you're as careful and gentle as possible) can lead to wear and reduce its lifespan. "If your duvet or comforter loses its fluffiness, gets stains that you aren’t able to get out, or starts smelling old, it's a good idea to think about getting a new one to be as comfortable and hygienic as possible," explains Harris.

What should you look for in a duvet or comforter?

Just like with any bedding, shopping for a new duvet or comforter is all down to personal preference. You deserve to be picky! "Take into account the comforter’s advertised warmth level, materials and how easy it is to clean," says Harris. "Make sure it's the right size and design for your bed, and fits your budget, too."

Now that that's all settled, scroll below and shop some of the best top-rated duvets and comforters on the market right now. Sweet dreams!

Top-rated duvets

This No. 1 bestseller has an impressive 92,000+ five-star reviews. Filled with super soft microfiber, this eco-friendly comforter comes with box-style stitching to keep the fluffy filling where it should be. 

$26 at Amazon

Yes, this one from Parachute is pricey — but if you're looking for a quality down duvet insert, it's worth it. 750 fill power European white down with a sateen cover, this duvet is soft and fluffy, with superior loft. Baffle-stitched construction ensures that the fill doesn't shift — thereby increasing the lifespan of this high-quality layer. While most other down duvets can only be dry cleaned, Parachute's can be machine washed on the gentle cycle — a necessity for those who want to easily clean their bedding with regularity.

$470 at Parachute

Great for hot sleepers, this machine-washable, breathable comforter boasts all-season warmth that won't cause you to overheat. Available in ten colors, this comforter can stand on its own — or it has four corner ties, if you want to slip it into a duvet cover. 

$27 at Amazon

Top-rated comforters

Made with super soft fabric and cloud-like filling, this machine-washable comforter set comes with the comforter and two sham pillowcases. It's also available in 26 different colors to match any home aesthetic. 

$46 at Amazon

What's great about this comforter is that you can also easily use it as a duvet insert thanks to the four corner loops. You've got 32 colors to choose from with a cozy dual-color effect to help you drift off to sleep. And, yes, this is labeled as for kids, but adult reviewers love it for themselves. 

$40 at Amazon

Who would ever want to cover the chic seersucker texture of this gorgeous comforter? You can if you want, but we love how it has the elegant look of a duvet cover combined with the ease of a comforter. Made of 100% washed microfiber, the breathable filling will keep you warm and cozy through all seasons. Plus, it comes in 18 colors, so you can find the best shade for your style. Another great thing? It doesn't attract pet hair!

$47 at Amazon