If asked, my friends would tell you that I’m a “poofer” from way back. You must be wondering if this is a good thing. Recently during a weekend visit with friends in Southampton, I noticed that I was, perhaps, the only one of our rather large group of house guests that took the time to poof the cushions of the chair or sofa I was sitting in. This home was filled with wonderful furnishings and was beautifully decorated. The living room was perfectly inviting with many places to sit and relax in cushy, down-filled seats. So, I did just that. When I was done, I did what I have being doing my whole life, I poofed the cushions. My host thanked me for “poofing” after myself and for being so considerate. I commented, “doesn’t everyone?” To my surprise, I was told that I was the first in a long list of house guests to poof.

Are you with me or are you wondering what the heck I am talking about? Let me explain. When I was a child, I was my mother’s buddy and would tag along with her shopping and sometimes even to visit one or two of her friends. When visiting, it was my job to “poof” the cushions. My Mother always struggled with her weight and one of my jobs as her escort was to “poof” after we got up, no questions asked. Believe me, I was well trained at home. I adored my mother and would do anything for her, but “poofing” back then was a little embarrassing. Nevertheless, I did it out of love and respect for both her and her friends and to ensure that we would be invited back. You name it, I’ve poofed it. Feathers, down, and even foam. One time I even tried to poof a cushion from a stool. But my favorite would be the combination of foam and feathers. They’re easy and require little effort.

As a long-time poofer, I have fine tuned this skill in my own home, and even find myself enjoying the process. Whether a cozy comforter, a fluffy feather bed or pillow, down can make it more comfortable. A comfortable home is a basic necessity for me. When you put your head or tush on a down pillow, you’ll instantly feel that unmistakably soft, luxurious feeling that no manmade filling can imitate.

You will notice that there is a substantial difference in a down cushion and a foam one. Today’s feather-fill sofas and chairs need to be poofed, but they don’t come with poofing instructions and nobody is teaching us to poof! Being a “poofer” from way back, I feel that I am somewhat of an expert on this subject and only recently discovered that perhaps, “poofers” like me are a dying breed. The following “poofing” training 101 will make any home owner pleasantly surprised that you offered or bothered to “poof” after yourself.

It is not necessary to poof unless you know you’re not returning for awhile. Remember that your host or hostess will never ask you to poof the cushion, but what a wonderful gesture if you did. That’s first class in my book. Never remove the cushion unless it’s your own. Fluff from the end closest to you, bringing back the fullness that was originally there. This might require a couple of tries before you get the hang of it. If you’re fortunate enough to have a throw pillow, this is an easy fluff. Simply pick up the pillow from the corner with a firm grip and with your free hand, pat the flat part two or three times and place back on the seat. Here’s the fun part that imparts the finishing touch. Give a karate chop directly in the center of the top of the pillow making an indentation in the middle. You’re done! You have just “poofed” like a pro.

One note of caution; pillows and cushion seats filled with white feathers or white down must be professionally dry cleaned. Be careful with food or drinks while seated.

Here are some frequently asked questions about down comforters and pillows:

What is a duvet?
Duvet is “old French” for feathers. Nowadays, it’s used to describe a comforter filled with down. A “duvet cover” is the decorative cover used to protect, or cover, a down comforter or duvet!

How do I clean my comforter?
A comforter that is properly covered will need to be cleaned very infrequently, if at all. I recommend using a professional cleaner who will launder (not dry clean) and thoroughly dry your comforter. It is ok to dry clean your comforter, but this can leave a chemical odor that is unpleasant. I prefer Dean Cleaners in Westport and I use them for all my dry cleaning and laundering needs. For the last 12 years, I have been referring my friends, family and neighbors to them. They get it. A bad dry cleaner is like a bad haircut — all it takes is one bad experience and you’re done with them. Dean Cleaners continuously exceeds all our expectations. I give them the Mar seal of approval. Whomever you choose to use, having a relationship with a dry cleaner you trust is an important part of your home maintenance support system. Find one in your area that you trust.

Should I wash my comforter myself?
I do not recommend washing your comforter in your washing machine unless it is approved for such use by the manufacturer. Generally, home laundry systems are not designed to handle something as large as a down comforter. In the event a comforter should tear or open while being washed in your home machine, the down can clog your plumbing resulting in a backup or flood. Also noteworthy, if your dryer is not large enough for your comforter to move freely, the fabric may overheat and cause a fire.

However you decide to clean your comforter, keep in mind that the cotton shell will shrink 3 to 5 percent after drying. Never store in plastic and always allow it to air. It takes more room this way but it is the right thing to do.

Can I wash my down pillows?
Yes, you can. I also recommend that you don’t do this at home. Use a front loading commercial washer with regular detergent. These are typically found at laundry mats. Make sure the fabric is not too old and frail or weakened from age. Bring something to read and get plenty of quarters; it will take you about 3 hours to dry 2 pillows, using a large commercial dryer on medium heat. Keep in mind that commercial dryers often get very hot and may burn your pillows so keep an eye on them. Take them out of the dryer frequently to fluff a bit. Give them plenty of room to toss about.

Should I use down comforters or pillows for infants?
Absolutely NOT! No exceptions. If the fabric should tear open, an infant could inhale the down clusters and choke. Down comforters may easily cover an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking their airways. Also, the use of down products with infants is a suspected cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Because down is very warm and infants do not regulate their internal body temperature, using any down product with an infant may add to this risk.

So, let’s get shopping. Many discount places offer great deals on down pillows and comforters. Work your way to the furniture in due time. Once you experience the luxurious difference of down, you’ll be a sitting duck for finding the deals.

And there you have it.