How to Wash Pillows

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Whether you’re a side sleeper, a blanket stealer, or a snorer, everyone uses a pillow to rest their head each night when they go to bed. And as with anything you use every day, pillows do get dirty.

Dust and germs are just the beginning of what collects on them during their lifespan, and at some point, they need a good cleaning.

how to wash pillows

While this may sound complicated, it’s pretty simple.


You just have to follow a few steps and you’ll have clean, fluffy pillows in no time!

Is Your Pillow Worth Washing?

First off, no pillow is meant to last a lifetime. Some stains won’t wash out, and if your neck or back are aching, it’s time for a change.

Sleep experts suggest replacing a pillow every few years, but here are some questions to consider when figuring out if your old pillow needs to be replaced:

  • Is the pillow lumpy or bumpy?
  • Does your feather pillow have to be punched or fluffed up for support?
  • If you fold the pillow in half, does it stay folded?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is time to go out and get yourself a new, fluffy pillow.

Recycle any old pillows that can’t be cleaned or are too old. They work great as padding for dog beds or stuffing for throw pillows.

But if all your pillows need is a good cleaning, here are some ways to get them looking bright and white again.

how to wash pillows

How to Wash Pillows (Synthetic, Down and Cotton)

  1. Check the tags to make sure they can be washed in a machine. Most pillows can, regardless of whether they’re down, synthetic, or cotton, but a few can’t (we will get to foam pillows later).
  2. Remove the pillow from its case or sham, if applicable. You can also throw these pillow covers and/or shams in the washing machine along with them, but be sure they’re separate.
  3. Put your pillows in the washing machine. Try to use a front or top-loading machine without an agitator. If an agitator-style top loader is your only option, place the pillows in the tub vertically; it’s less likely they’ll get wrapped around and damaged by the agitator. Wash at least two pillows at a time to keep the washer balanced. Adjust the settings on your washer so that it runs with hot water and goes through a second rinse cycle to be sure all the soap has been removed. Use the “bulky/large” cycle if it is available on your washer. Otherwise, use the gentle cycle. Use a mild liquid detergent rather than a powder to avoid residue.

Extra tip: Roll up your pillows lengthwise and secure the ends and middle with rubber bands during wash cycle to minimize clumping of synthetic fibers.

  1. Tumble dry the pillows on low heat. Place them in the dryer and adjust the settings accordingly. If your pillows are feather-filled, put your dryer on the “air,” “fluff,” or the “no heat” setting. For synthetic ones, switch your dryer to low heat. Add a softener sheet for freshness. You can also add a couple of sneakers or tennis balls in separate, clean, white socks to help fluff them and to help decrease the pillows’ drying time. Then start your dryer. You can also dry them by laying them out in the sun.
  2. Check your pillows.When your dryer has finished its cycle, remove the pillows and feel them, checking for dampness. If they don’t feel quite dry, repeat the drying process and check them again a second time. Otherwise, they’re ready!

how to wash a pillow

How to Wash Foam Pillows

Pillows made of foam can melt in the dryer and fall apart in the washer, so they must be hand-washed.

However, you still need to be very careful. Wet foam is heavy and tears easily.

  1. If your pillow has a case or sham, take it off prior to washing. Most memory foam ones also have a zip-on protective cover that should be removed as well. These items can be washed separately in a machine.
  2. Fill a tub (or your sink) with warm water. You only need enough water to cover the pillow. Add your detergent. For each pillow, add a tablespoon of liquid detergent to the water. Swirl it around with your hands a bit to bubble it up and get it evenly mixed.
  3. Place your pillow in the water and move it around to help the detergent work its way in. Massage and squeeze the pillow with your hands to help get dirt out and push the soap past the outer layer.
  4. Run the pillow under fresh water. It is important to get as much of the soap out as you can. Check for suds in the water that runs out. Rinsing the pillow may take several minutes.
  5. Lay it out on a clean white towel in a dry area. If possible, allow it to dry in the sun.
  6. Check your pillowMemory foam is especially susceptible to holding water for a long time since it’s made out of a spongey material. Make sure that there is absolutely no water left in the material before using it in your bed again, otherwise it will begin to grow mould and mildew.

And that’s it! Now you have all you need to make sure the pillows you lay your head on each night are as clean as possible.

See the video below for the process of washing a fibre pillow.


Do you have any tips on how to wash a pillow?


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