The Most Pristine Down Possible and Our Guarantee
When Michelle and I set out to create duvets and pillows that you'll want to pass on to your kids, we knew we would have to start with the world's cleanest down.
Now Governments set standards for the cleanliness of down (and anything else that goes into bedding) but we all know how low those standards can be.
We wanted to exceed those standards and go above an beyond. We wanted our down to be sneeze proof.
Well, yes. See we know something about people who think they are allergic to down.
They are allergic to the stuff that lives IN and ON down. Stuff like dust, and mites, and mold, and pollen, and grasses. That's the stuff that people are allergic too. I should know because I ARE one of those people. (Yes the typos was on purpose.)
All my young life I was a snotty-nosed mess. (Too much information?) I was allergic to everything. I even got tested for it all and took allergy shots once a week and nothing worked.
I remember going to my grandmothers house and sleeping under her duvet. It was hot and heavy. It felt great when you tucked in at night but sometime in the middle of the night I'd be kicking it off, and in the morning my nose would be all stuffed up.
For years I just thought it was my normal allergies. But now I know that the duvet was filled with crappy down, and mostly feather (that made it hot and heavy) and the down was probably full of all the nasties I was allergic to.
Fast forward to today. Knowing what I know now, we set out to have only the cleanest down in our duvets, pillows and featherbeds and here's how it's done.
Getting Ready To Clean The Down
When the down comes in to be cleaned it is still mixed with feathers so the first step is to fluff the heck out of the stuff to get as much dust, dirt, grass and pollen off it as is possible.
The down first goes into a process where it is separated and the majority of the dust and grass is removed. In large silos the down and feathers are tossed with fresh air while the little nasties that we don't want are exhausted through large fans into a large chamber. All of this material that ends up in the exhaust is biodegradable and that waste is sent off to the landfill where it helps to breakdown the rest of the world's trash.
Once the down and feathers have gone through this first phase they are then sent to the washing machine.
Washing The Down
We don't have our down put into any ol' washing machine. These are high-tec industrial machines that are able to supply enough water without damaging the down. (Most other cleaning systems use chemicals that make the down brittle so it lofts up at first, but then cracks and breaks over the years turning to dust in your duvet. Not ours.)
The washing process consists of a large machine we call a "feeder". It's actually a large silo that can hold up to five hundred pounds of down at a time. The down is then fed gently into the washing chamber which is filled with warm water. We maintain an ideal temperature so that the down retains it's natural elasticity and doesn't age the down prematurely.
We use only biodegradable detergents similar to those used in Europe. We also add a degreaser which removes the oils from the down and feathers which can make your duvet smell. The combination of the detergents and the degreaser ensures and incredibly clean down and feather filling.
Rinsing and Washing The Down
So you may think that after all the cleaning and degreasing that the down would be all set. Um...no.
We rinse it once. Then twice.
We rinse it FIFTEEN TIMES! (Not a typo.)
Fifteen times ensures that your down and feathers are free from fine dust and any other residual particles that may have nestled in there.
In the final rinsing cycle we add a sanitizer that eliminates any bacteria in the down and this is the step that makes it "hypo-allergenic". It also helps your down stay fresher...longer, and cleaner...longer.
The last step to this process is to send the down through a very large spinner. We don't put it in there for too long because we don't want to break the down plumules. But this short time in the spinner sucks out most of the water from the down and feathers before we send into another silo on the way to our Steam Dryer.
Gently Drying The Down and Feathers.
In our three part drying system we take the ultimate care not to break the down or feathers. Our competitors use inferior systems to rush through this process and to artificially inflate the loft reading at the end of the process. We don't do that.
In our process we first take the freshly washed and sanitized down and we gently feed it into our Gentle Steam Dryer. We call it "gentle" because we slowly raise the temperature to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. (Or about 100 degrees Celsius up here in Canada.)
We do this slowly so as not to make the down and feathers brittle.
Once they are mostly dry we move them to a soft cooling chamber where they bursts of air keep the down and feathers in continuos motion. This chamber is shaped like a cylinder and the down and feathers are whisked gently around and around until they are completely dry.
(Note: Most companies rush this process with high heat and remove the down before it is completely dry. Because the down is not fully dry it is 1) not at its full loft potential because the moisture sticks the down fibers together. And 2) the potential for mold to grow is higher. The down may also smell. So companies may add a chemical at this point in an attempt to keep the mold at bay but now you have chemicals in a duvet that you thought was natural. We don't do any of that!)
We take the time and energy to ensure the down and feathers are treated with care through a longer, more thorough drying process. This ensures that you will have no mold, and a fully lofted down that will last you for many, many years to come.
Oh...almost forgot. During this whole drying process we are still filtering out any impurities and dust. A negative air environment is created by a vacuum system that is in constant use throughout the process.
Now that the down and feathers are washed, dried, sterilized, loved, hugged, and otherwise given a great big high-five.
We now send the down over to where the magic happens.
The Best Part. Our Sorting System.
I'm most proud of the process used in sorting our down. This is where many mass produced brands start their fleecing of the consumer and it just makes us sick.
We go through extra steps to ensure the down in your duvet is what it says it is. The large feathers have been removed. It's clean. It's cozy. And it's one big bundle of love that you can curl up in at night. (Or maybe at nap time)
To ensure that the down and feathers in your duvets and pillows are...well...how you say...AWESOME? Only small batches are sorted at a time and the process is slooooowww.
Just under two hundred pounds are sorted in a batch. That may seem like a lot, but we assure you that larger amounts just don't work that well.
The down and feathers first go into a waiting silo and are then fed into Sorting Chambers.
The way the sorting chambers work is air is blown vertically in the chamber. The down and feather mix falls to the bottom where it is blown back up to the top of the chamber. There are five chambers in total.
Each chamber is open at the top. As the air blows the down and feather mix up in the air, the lightest and highest grade of the mix travels into the next chamber. This continues until each chamber is filled with down or feathers by weight.
So in the first chamber there is mostly large feathers with large quills with only a small amount of small feathers.
In the second chamber there is mostly small feathers with only a small amount of large feathers and a tiny amount of down.
In the third chamber there is mostly down with a small amount of small feathers mixed in.
And in the final chamber there is the most coveted down that ends up in our duvets and pillows.
How Long Does The Sorting Process Take?
Our process is the longest in the industry and takes just under five hours. We know from experience that when you take this amount of time you get the best sorting quality and end up with the best down and feathers in your duvets and pillows.
It is important to maintain diligence while filtering out impurities that may still be in the down and feather batch. To do that, an exhaust fan is constantly filtering out and removing little particles to make your product the best it can be.
The Bagging and Distribution System.
At the bottom of the Air Sorting System are a series of vacuums that suck the down and feathers into the bagging system.
Here the down and feathers are puffed into their respective bags where they are labeled according to the type and quality of the down and/or feathers. Some down ends up only in duvets. Some ends up in pillows and some ends up in the featherbeds. These bags are then sent over to the work room.
It's important to know that we do our best not have the down and feathers compressed too much in this process. While it takes a lot to compress down or feathers it's important to do our best to be as gentle as possible along the way.
We Are Proud Of This Process.
When Michelle and I set out to create Simply the Finest down duvets, pillows and featherbeds, we wanted the cleanest, most pure down and feathers possible and we believe the process we use is at the top of the industry. We wouldn't be the only company to guarantee our duvets the way we do if we didn't think like that.
We also know that the process we use takes a little longer, costs a bit more, but that the quality that comes out the other end is something that you can believe in and that you'll want to pass on to your kids.
If you have any questions about our process please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We'd be happy to answer any of your questions.
Jonathan and Michelle Edwards - Owners