Explained: How To Wash Your Pillows?

Feather pillows or synthetic pillows? Hard or soft ones? Whatever your choice is, you should know that you have to wash pillows regularly. Not as often as you have to wash your sheets, pillowcases, or duvets, but pillows do need to be cleaned as well.

Pillows in blue and pink silk

Maybe, some of you haven’t heard before that you have to wash pillows too. Don’t panic, though! It isn’t anything complicated. And it’s something you should start scheduling ASAPTo help you more, we’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to clean your pillows. 

How to wash your pillows?

Hopefully, most pillows can be washed in the washing machine, including those filled with cotton, fiberfill, feather and down. While washing them in the machine, set the gentle wash and spin cycle and use warm water as soon as you first check the care label for washing instructions

Some pillows might need dry cleaning, whilst others, like foam pillows, may not resist the harsh shaking and rolling in the laundry machine, leading to padding breakdown. However, you can still clean them at home using other methods.   

But how can you wash your pillows? Let’s find out!

Air out

Whichever pillow type you have, the best thing you should do is give them a shake every day to bring them back into shape again, become fluffy and get rid of any dust accumulated on them. Every month, more or less, hang them on a clothesline for a few hours. Take advantage of a bright and breezy day and let them out to freshen up for as long as possible.

a young woman fluffing her pillows

Wash them 

Clean pillows in the laundry machine as long as it’s recommended on the care label. The tricky part isn’t washing them but drying them since they take time to completely dry. 

Before tossing them into the washer, check for any stains. If there’s any wet stain, treat it immediately with a stain remover.

Since there are different pillows, there are various treatments and washing ways. Below we have gathered all the details on how to give your different types of the pillow a nice bleach.

How to wash foam pillows?

Foam pillows might not accumulate dust mites, but you still have to clean them regularly. The best way to clean them is as follows:

white sheets, quilts and pillows on a bed

  1. The first thing you should do is to remove the pillow covers and cases and wash them.
  2. Next, vacuum the pillows. It’s the best way to remove dust and dirt from the pillows since you can’t wash them in the laundry machine. You can also pop them into the tumble dryer, choosing the no-heat or air-only cycle for only 20 minutes.
  3. After that, it’s time to spot-treat stains. Check both sides for stains. If there’s any, clean it with a cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse with a damp cloth. Keep in mind, though, that foam pillows are very delicate and can tear very easily when they’re wet.
  4. Finally, let them air dry. Once they’ve dried completely, you can put them back in place. 

How to wash down and fiberfill pillows?

Fortunately, down and fiberfill pillows are machine washable. That means you can throw them in your washing machine and freshen them up. You just have to wash two pillows at the same time to help balance the load. If you own a top-loading machine, you should run the gentle cycle or the shortest setting because the agitator on this type of machine is a bit tough for the pillows. Or else, you can visit a laundromat, where front-loading devices are used.     

  1. Toss the pillows in the laundry machine and choose the gentle setting using lukewarm water. Add a small amount of laundry detergent and start the wash cycle
  2. Choose a second rinse cycle using cold water. If your washing machine has the “Bulky/Large” cycle, use it too. 
  3. Then, put the pillows in the tumble dryer. If your bed pillows are down-filled, select the “Air/Fluff/No heat” setting. Turn your dryer to a low heat setting if you have fiberfill ones. Throw a couple of tennis balls or dryer balls in the dryer along with your pillows. Tennis balls will reduce clumping and help them dry faster. 
  4. Once the dryer has finished, get your pillows out and check them. Squeeze them to see if there are any damp spots and smell them to ensure there is no moisture smell, especially in the centre. If you notice any dampness, repeat the drying process or let them dry outside for a few hours on a sunny day.

How to wash polyester pillows?

Polyester pillows share the exact similarity in softness to down pillows. However, they’re less expensive and much easier to clean. So, how can you wash your polyester pillows? 

  1. Remove any pillow covers and cases and wash them in the washer
  2. Check your pillows for any stains. Treat the stained areas before washing the whole pillow. 
  3. Toss your pillows in the washing machine. Select the gentle cycle using warm or hot water and add a small amount of the detergent.
  4. Once it’s finished, put the pillows in the tumble dryer, but before you do so, fluff the filling. Don’t forget to put any tennis or dryer balls with the pillows to break any clumps. Set then the low/ medium heat.

Extra tip: If you want to speed up the drying process and ensure that pillows will dry completely, then stop the dryer every 15 minutes and fluff the pillows by hand. 

How to wash memory foam pillows?

Memory foam pillows aren’t machine washable because the agitation will break them down or tear the foam. But they can get wet, which means you can wash them by hand.

PIllows on a small table and white brick wall background

  1. Remove the case and any pillow protectors. Usually, this type of pillows is enclosed with a zip-on protective covering. Remove them before washing the pillows and wash them with the rest of your bedding in the washer
  2. Fill your tub, sink or a large bucket with warm water
  3. Add a tablespoon for each pillow of liquid detergent to the water and swirl it until it’s mixed. 
  4. Place the pillows in soapy water and move them around. Squeeze pillows a bit with your hands so that dirt gets out. 
  5. Then, rinse pillows under running water to remove as much soap as possible. Keep squeezing until there are no suds in the runout. Rinsing will last longer than washing. 
  6. Dry them in the sun or a dry area. Avoid tumble drying your pillows because high heat may damage them. 
  7. Finally, check the pillows if they’re completely dry. If they are damp, don’t put them back in place as there’s a great risk of growing mould and mildew.

How to know when it’s time to replace them

It doesn’t matter how thorough and exacting you are about cleaning your pillows. At some point, you’ll have to buy new ones. And when the time comes, your pillow will speak it out. To tell the truth, there’ll be a couple of signs that will indicate that it’s time to get new pillows

  1. If you fold the pillow in half, and it doesn’t return to its original shape, then it’s time for a new one.
  2. If you notice any strange odour coming from your pillow, even after having washed them, then you should start looking for your next purchase.

How to Dry Pillows

It’s vital to let your pillows dry completely after each washing. If there’s any dampness left inside the pillow, you run a chance to develop mildew. The best way to dry your pillows is probably air drying. According to the care instructions, you can also use the tumble dryer. 

But, you can’t use your dryer as usual when drying pillows. You should skip the auto-dry setting. Otherwise, the machine’s sensors will dry the surface moisture leaving the pillow’s inner part damp.

Whether you dry your pillows outside or in a tumble dryer, you should always check for moisture left inside the pillow. If there’s no sign of humidity, then you can put them back into your bed or store them. 

NOTE: Avoid placing foam pillows in the tumble dryer, as high heat can damage them. In fact, they might catch fire.

How to Spot-Treat Pillows

Pillows spot-treat differs according to the pillow type, like washing, due to the different materials pillows are made of. Thus:

a pillow on a bed with yellow stains

  • If you have a foam pillow, clean the stained area with a cloth dipped in soapy water.
  • If you have a feather-down pillow, first shake the feathers away from the troubled area and treat the stain. 
  • If you have a synthetic pillow or any other type, treat the stain according to what it is. If it’s saliva or blood, you should use an enzyme-containing detergent to clean it. 

Why do you need to wash your pillows?

Like bedding and mattresses, pillows trap tiny particles that float around, plus the dead skin cells that our body sheds while sleeping, creating a breeding ground for dust mites, mould, allergens and bacteria to grow and build up over time. Thus, “dirty” pillows can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions, let alone skin problems like acne. 

That’s why it is very important to change pillowcases regularly and clean your pillows, to remove all these harmful particles. 

How often should you wash your pillows?

Hopefully, washing pillows isn’t a task you should do regularly, like the rest of your bedding. You should change and wash your pillowcases and your sheets at least once a week. But it’s not the same with pillows. Pillows should be washed every two to three times a year.

some white pillows on a bed.

Cleaning and caring for your pillows should be a scheduled chore from now on. Every day, give them a shake and fluffing to get rid of dust and dirt. Air them as frequent as possible to freshen them up and finally wash them every 2 to 3 times a year. Practising these will ensure you they last long.

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