1. Only use front loading machines, or ideally commercial washer and dryers. The reason is most household washers have agitators (pinnacle of plastic that sticks up inside the washing machine) which easily can damage delicate fabrics. Also, the common household dryer is far too small for most bulky quilts, providing uneven or harmful drying
2. Only use "down soap." This can be purchased online or at a outdoor retail shop.
3. Prepare the garment by removing all loose dirt, dust, debris, etc. If needed wipe with cloth and water based cleaner.
4. Start the machine on gentle cycle, warm water. Double rinse, or until clear water drains from item.
5. Consider using less soap than the soap manufacturer suggests, as high loft down is easier cleaned than lower fill power. All soap residue should be removed.
**Once the item is done with the washing cycle it is important to follow the remaining steps very carefully. **
6. The item will look quite strange once out of the washing machine and through the spin cycle. The down will be all clumped together and water-logged; this is normal.
7. Before putting the item in the dryer, place in on a flat and clean surface. Take a clean towel and press it down to try and soak any excess water out of the down clumps. (use medium resistance). Do this until no more moisture is absorbed into the towel.
8. Take the item over to the LARGE COMMERCIAL TUMBLE DRYER. Dryer heat output can vary dramatically from machine to machine. Medium heat is usually sufficient, but use your best judgment. Let it run for 5-10 minutes and pull the item out.
9. Begin to hand separate the clumps of 900+ fill down, both by patting and gently massaging the clumps apart.
10. Return to the dryer for another 15 minute. Remove and massage. You might need to do this many times. Try to get the down spread out, so you can maximize the drying surface area. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO USE OBJECTS TO SHORTCUT THE WORK; THE SHOE OR TENNIS BALL METHOD MAY TEAR OR DAMAGE THE DOWN GARMENT /SLEEPING BAG.
Loft is lost for 2 reasons: Item was improperly stored, or item is dirty and in need of cleaning.
Generally, compression is NOT a good thing for down, especially over the long term.
Placing in a tight stuff sack during backpacking and un-stuffing it at night is not a problem.
It is best to avoid using dedicated compression sacks with mechanical means to achieve as small a stuffed size as possible.
For storage there's a number of good options: Place the down filled item in the supplied large storage bag; hang it up; leave it out and show it off to your friends; or toss it loosely into a well ventilated closet.
Avoid piling things on top of it. Essentially make sure that the item is well lofted and not crushed.
The longer the individual down is compressed, the more likely it is to retain that shape in memory. Think of a snowflake; very delicate, with many different micro branches, which create space around the central core. Same with down. If you repeatedly crush the various arms/branches of this delicate wonder of nature, you will lose loft and warmth. This is what creates a 'flat' sleeping bag or jacket.