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Featherbeds have been a part of bedrooms since the 14th century. They were originally only something the very wealthy could afford but by the 1800’s, they were a common way to make traditional mattresses more comfortable, very comfortable in fact! They were valuable possessions, often given as dowries or passed down through families. Featherbeds were bigger than what we use today; they were firmly packed and weighed 50 - 90 lbs. Until the invention of baffle boxes, the featherbed was a large bag which required daily fluffing to keep the feathers distributed. Fortunately, featherbeds today take a lot less maintenance but we can learn from older housekeeping methods because airflow is the key to a long life for your featherbed.
When you first get your new featherbed, it will fluff up for some time after being compressed for shipping. Gently shake your new featherbed and air it out to help it fluff up. The more you fluff, flip and rotate your featherbed, the better it will feel. When you change your sheets, just grab a corner and shake the featherbed like the old parachute in gym class. However, it’s more fun if you can recruit someone to shake the other side at the same time!
Since featherbeds are too big even for most commercial laundry machines, it can be hard to wash them and it often costs less to buy a new one. Treat it like an extension of your mattress and prevent damage from spills and stains by using a featherbed protector or mattress pad.
Minor spills or soiling of the featherbed itself should be spot cleaned by moving the feathers away from the area and cleaning the fabric. If more extensive cleaning is required, consult a professional dry cleaner for laundering (not dry-cleaning). It may take some searching to find a cleaner that can handle the volume of a featherbed.
If your featherbed becomes wet or damp, be sure to dry it completely. Shaking it regularly while drying will help to get the feathers fully dried. Any clumps, lumps or a smell of feathers indicates dampness.
A featherbed is a great way to add luxury to your night’s rest or renew an older mattress. A regular fluffing will ensure years of comfort to come.