How to Clean a Pillow

How to Clean a Pillow: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on February 24, 2023

Let’s be honest: how often are you washing your pillows?

If you’ve been sleeping with the same pillow on your bed for longer than six months, you need to give it a clean. That doesn’t mean the pillowcase, either – we’re talking a full clean of your actual pillow, whether it’s made from cushiony memory foam or stuffed full of soft feathers.

This information might surprise you, but over one-third of your pillow is made up of dead skin cells, dust mites, sweat, and the natural body oils that emerge from your skin while you sleep. Yet most people never think to do anything about it! But as long as you wash pillows regularly – three or four times a year is a good recommendation – then you can rest easy in the knowledge that your bed is a healthy and clean environment to sleep in.

Of course, it’s also recommended to take good care of your bedding, sheets, pillowcases, and mattress – but today, we’re looking at how to clean a pillow.

Is It Easy to Wash Pillows at Home?

As far as things go, washing pillows is pretty easy – it just takes a bit of time out of your day. But having clean pillows will almost certainly revolutionise your sleep and make bedtime that much more pleasant.

Luckily, you can wash most pillows in the same way, and you can do this at home in your washing machine using warm water, detergent, a gentle cycle and low heat to dry them.

Is It Safe to Wash Pillows in the Washing Machine?

Feather pillows and synthetic pillows can tolerate the general heat of a washer. Unfortunately, memory foam pillows and synthetic pillows are more delicate and cannot be washed in a machine.

Before washing pillows, always make sure to check the care labels on your pillows just in case there are any special instructions. Some pillows cannot go in the washing machine and need dry cleaning instead or a special technique.

To make things easier for you, here’s a step by step guide to washing pillows. Follow these instructions, and you’ll soon have clean pillows and happy home life!

Washing Pillows in a Washing Machine

You should wash your pillows separately from your pillowcases and pillow covers in order to get them as clean as possible. It’s also advised to wash pillows two at a time, which balances out the weight in your washing machine.

Step 1: Load Your Pillows Into Your Washing Machine

Take your pillows to your washing machine and pop them inside. If you have a top loader washing machine, you will probably be able to place two or three pillows in at once – and this is a sensible idea, as it helps to balance out the weight. Make sure you place the pillows vertically into the cylinder, as this will minimise the chance of damage from the machine.

Step 2: Set Up the Wash Cycle

two memory foam pillows on the bed

You can add a mild laundry detergent to your washing machine, just like you usually would with a load of clothes. It’s worth considering that liquid laundry detergent can sometimes leave a sticky residue on fabric surfaces, so use powder if you have some available.

Use warm water to machine wash pillows unless the care label says otherwise. If there is a delicate or gentle cycle option, go ahead and choose that one.

Step 3: Start Your Washing Machine

Start the wash cycle! While you’re waiting for the washing cycle to finish, why not clean a pot or a pan in the kitchen, or take care of some other household chores?

When the cycle is over, open the washer and remove your pillows, ready for drying.

How to Wash a Pillow by Hand

The best thing to do with any pillows that can’t be machine washed is to hand wash them.

Step 1: Place Your Pillow Into a Tub

Find a tub big enough for your pillow. Remember that as the water soaks in, the pillow will become heavier, so choose a location that’s not averse to spills – maybe the kitchen floor or outside on a warm day. Alternatively, you can simply wash your pillows in the regular bathtub. It offers quite a bit more space, and there’s easy access to the taps too.

Step 2: Fill Up the Tub

Fill the tub with warm water and mix in a bit of detergent – this can be laundry soap, dishwasher detergent or something that’s a similar style. Then place the pillow inside the tub.

Step 3: Knead the Pillow

Once the pillow is properly soaked, you can knead at it with your hands. The best way to dig into the fibres of your pillow is to use your knuckles. In this way, you’ll be mimicking the action that takes place inside the washing machine.

Step 4: Rinse the Pillow With Clean Water

After about ten minutes of kneading, you can take your pillow out of the tub and tip the dirty washing water away. Your pillow will probably be quite heavy, so try to wring out the pillow as much as you can. Then, you can fill up the tub for a second time with clean water and squeeze it through to get rid of any remaining detergent suds.

How to Wash Foam Pillows

If you have memory foam pillows, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t get wet. They shouldn’t go in the washing machine, either: the delicate material inside is either in a solid chunk or in shreds of foam, but either way, it’s in danger of being damaged by the action of the washing machine.

For individual stains, you can spot-clean foam pillows. Do this by mixing detergent with water, dipping into this solution with a sponge and dabbing at the pillow in circular motions.

If you need to deep-clean a memory foam pillow or a latex one, you can follow the above instructions for hand washing a pillow.

How to Dry Your Pillows

woman fluffing beddings

Regardless of how many times you’ve washed your pillow, the drying process is still likely to be one of these two options: either through air drying or by using a tumble dryer.

To air dry a pillow, the best thing to do is shake it out vigorously and then either peg it on a washing line or lay it out flat on a drying rack. If you can do this outside on a warm, sunny day, then the pillow will dry quicker.

Before you tumble dry your pillow, be sure to read the care label if it is suitable for you to do so.

How Long Can I Put My Pillow in the Dryer For?

To tumble dry a pillow, place the pillow inside your dryer and set it to low heat for about twenty minutes. Again, make sure that you check the care label to see if there are any specific care instructions – some pillows aren’t suitable for tumble drying.

When pillows dry, the feathers and stuffing inside can clump together and become misshapen. If you add a few dryer balls into the dryer, they will help keep your pillows plump as they bounce around the drum. If you don’t have dryer balls, an equally good idea is to simply use tennis balls instead, as they’ll have the same effect.

Put On a Fresh Pillowcase

Make sure to check your pillows for any damp patches, as moisture residue could lead to mould issues.

Once you’re certain that your pillows have dried completely, fit them with freshly washed pillowcases, pop on some new sheets and put everything back on your bed. Now you can luxuriate in the knowledge that you’ll be having a much cleaner night’s sleep!

Cleaning Pillows Is The Household Task That Makes You Sleep Better

Now you know how to clean a pillow, you have no excuse to be sleeping on dirty bedding any longer. Not only will you feel fresher and cleaner, but it could also improve your skin’s health. We hope you make the most of these tips and get your pillows into the washing machine ASAP!

How often do you wash pillows? Let us know below.

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