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How to Wash Pillows Properly

July 14, 2023

Did you know that your pillow is the ideal breeding ground for mites? Not only that but dirt, dust, saliva, and sweat can accumulate inside over time, causing unpleasant odors.

why should you have a good pillowThat’s why it’s so important to clean your pillows regularly – ideally, once every two to three months.

What’s the best way to wash pillows? Can you machine wash them on a gentle cycle? For the answers, be sure to keep reading. We’ll be going over the answers below.

Washing Pillows Made of Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows are designed to contour to the shape of your head and neck. They distribute weight evenly, which helps relieve pressure during sleep.

Are Memory Foam Pillows Machine Washable?

Memory foam pillows should never be put in the washing machine. The strong agitation of the wash cycle will break the inner padding.

Similarly, you never want to put it in the dryer—the heat will destroy its structure.

Deep Cleaning Your Memory Foam Pillow

The best way to wash your memory foam pillow is to use water. Never use detergent as it can actually damage the product.

how to wash your pillowsTo begin, fill a sink or tub with lukewarm water. Remove the pillow protectors (if you’re using them) and place the pillow in. Alternatively, you can let the water run over the top. If you’re doing that, make sure to move it around so that you’re rinsing all of the inner padding.

Gently press down on the pillow afterward with your hands to remove the excess water. Let it air dry in a well-ventilated area. If possible, hang it outside in the sun—that will help to hasten the process.

Removing Stains From Memory Foam Pillows

Accidentally spilled a cup of tea over your pillow? Don’t worry—most liquid stains are easy to remove. You just need to know what to do.

First things first, remove the pillow case. Using a clean cloth or towel, absorb the excess liquid. Avoid rubbing the area as that’ll only spread the mess further.

From there, you want to create a soapy solution by mixing a mild detergent with a little bit of water. Don’t add too much though, otherwise, you’ll end up with excess detergent on the pillow.

Once it’s bubbly, dip a sponge in. Use it to gently clean the stained area with a circular motion. Finally, wipe the soap off with a clean, damp cloth. For the best results, allow the pillow to dry naturally.

Alternatively, you can bring it in for a dry cleaning.

How to Wash Pillows Filled with Down or Feathers

Down/feather pillows are great in that they’re soft and fluffy. Here’s how to wash them.

Are Feather/Down Bed Pillows Machine Washable?

Start by taking off the pillowcase. Once it’s off, you can load pillows in the washing machine.

how to clean feather pillowsGenerally speaking, you want to put in two pillows at a time—that will help to keep things balanced. If necessary, squeeze them with your hands to remove the air.

Note: Ideally, you want to use a washing machine without an agitator (ie. a front loader instead of a top loading machine). If that’s not possible, place the pillows vertically—that way, they’ll be less likely to get damaged during the cycle.

The next step is to add your laundry detergent. It’s important that you only use a small amount, otherwise, there might be buildup left on the pillow (pillows are bulky and will not rinse out as well as your clothes).

For the best results, use a liquid detergent as powders are more likely to leave residue, which can result in skin irritation.

From there, set your washing machine on a gentle cycle. Consider using hot water as that will help to kill off any mites. Keep in mind, however, that heat can damage the down and feathers over time so you may want to alternate between warm and cold water.

how to wash pillows in washing machinePro-tip: Adding an extra rinse cycle will help remove any detergent that might be left on your pillow. Similarly, you can get rid of the excess moisture with an additional spin cycle.

Take the pillows out once the cycle is finished. Using a towel, gently press out the water. Never try to wring or twist them as that will only cause damage. Afterward, place them in the dryer on the lowest setting.

For the best results, fluff them out by hand between each cycle—that will help to prevent clumps from forming. Using wool dryer balls or clean tennis balls can help as well.

Hand Washing Down Pillows

Fill the tub with warm water and add a bit of ACTIVE detergent – a little will suffice, otherwise, it will be hard to rinse out later.

Agitate the mixture with your hand; suds should start to appear. Place the pillow flat in the tub and press down on the down pillow to submerge it in the soapy water. Let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes at least.

Afterward, rinse it with water. For the best results, place the pillow directly under the faucet. Alternatively, you can re-fill the tub with water and let it soak.

Chances are, you’ll have to rinse it several times to get rid of all the soap. When you’re finished, place it in the dryer and run it on low heat – that will dry pillows without damaging them.

If necessary, you can also add a few dryer balls—they will help to fluff up the pillows. It’s also a good idea to fluff them up by hand between cycles (you’ll have to run the dryer more than once).

Tips to Keep Your Pillows Clean & Odor Free

Here are a few things that will help keep your pillows clean.

Wash Your Pillows Frequently

Don’t wait until your pillows are grungy before washing them. Make a habit of washing them routinely – that will prevent oils, dust mites, and odors from building up.

Go to Bed Clean

This goes without saying but you want to go to bed clean. In other words, don’t jump into the sheets after a long day outside – the dust, dirt, and grime from your clothes will transfer onto your bed, including the pillow.

Protect Pillows with a Pillow Protector

Always use pillow covers; they will protect your pillow from stains, odors, and dead skin cells.

Even if the pillow cover does get dirty, you can wash it easily without having to deal with the actual pillow (they will buy you more time between each full-on cleaning)!

Avoid Sleeping With Your Pet

how to clean pillows petsAs much as you love your dog or cat, avoid sleeping with them (especially if they have a habit of going on your pillow). If they must join you, have them sleep at the foot of the bed. After all, you never know what might be in their fur—the last thing that you want is for that something to transfer onto your pillow!

Washing Bed Pillows – FAQs

How do you wash down alternative pillows?

Down alternative pillows are less finicky than actual down pillows and can be machine washed with cool or warm water with a gentle laundry detergent, such as the one by ACTIVE. That will get rid of odors and keep your pillows fresh.

Can you clean pillows with baking soda?

Baking soda can be used to deodorize your pillows. Start by removing the pillow case. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the pillow and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes before vacuuming away the powder.

When should I replace my old pillow with a new pillow?

As a general rule, you want to replace pillows once every one to two years.

What’s the best way to spot clean pillows?

Dissolve a bit of ACTIVE detergent in cool water to create a soapy mixture. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and use it to blot the stain on the pillow.

How can I protect my pillows from dust mites?

Using a pillow case will protect your pillow from mites.

That’s our complete guide on how to wash and care for pillows. As you can see, there are a few ways to go about it. At the end of the day, it depends on the type of pillow that you have.

Generally speaking, however, you can’t go wrong with some warm water and laundry detergent.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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