Most of us use pillows every day, but we rarely think about how clean they are.
Even pillows protected under a pillowcase will need a deep clean every few months – that includes the throw pillows that line your couch.
This post will explain everything you need to know about safely washing pillows so they’re clean and fluffy for years to come.
Why it’s important to clean your pillows
Pillows can collect hair, dead skin, sweat, and other nasty messes you’d probably rather not think about. Over time, this buildup of stuff can trigger allergies, harm our skin, and become a perfect habitat for dust mites, according to Consumer Reports.
Simply fluffing your pillows every day can get rid of dust and dirt on the surface, but you’ll want to give your pillows a deep clean every other month. Pillowcases should be washed weekly with your sheets.
Here’s what you need to clean your pillows
- A washer and dryer
- Mild laundry detergent
- A vacuum
What you need to know about cleaning pillows
There are lots of different types of pillows out there, and you’ll want to use the appropriate cleaning method for your type of pillow. Most pillows have care instructions printed on their labels, but there are a few general rules for cleaning pillows.
How to clean feather pillows
It’s usually safe to toss your feather pillows into the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Wash two pillows at a time to keep the washing machine balanced, using cool water and mild detergent. Run the spin cycle two times to get as much moisture out of the pillow as possible.
Dry the pillows on low heat, but don’t rely on your dryer’s sensor to know when the pillow is completely dry. You may need to toss them in for multiple cycles until the pillows are dry all the way through. This is important because damp pillows can attract mold and mildew.
You can toss in a couple of dryer balls to speed up the process.
How to clean memory foam pillows
Memory foam pillows shouldn’t go in the washing machine. Instead, you’ll need to hand wash them.
Most memory foam pillows have a removable cover that’s easier to wash than the filling. Most manufacturers recommend only washing the covers based on their instructions, according to The New York Times.
Some pillows have single-piece foam fillings that are easy to remove. Shredded foam pillows can be a little messier. Go outside to remove the filling into a large bag. There will likely be lots of dust in the filling.
For foam pillows that don’t have a removable cover, use a vacuum to remove any loose dust and dirt. Then, spot clean the pillow using a damp cloth and a bit of mild detergent. Lay the pillow flat to air dry.
How to clean throw pillows
Throw pillows make our beds and sofas a little cozier, but they still see their fair share of dirt and messes over time.
The pillow cover and the pillow filling could have different washing instructions, so plan on washing them separately. Some throw pillows will need to be dry cleaned while others can go in the washing machine.
If you’re washing a throw pillow yourself, use cool or warm water and mild detergent. For pillow covers with bright colors, wash the pillow cover in cold water.
For pillows that can go in the dryer, always use low heat to prevent damaging the fabric or filling. You can also skip the dryer and hang the pillows up to dry in a well-ventilated area.
How to spot clean a pillow
If you’re not sure it’s safe to put your pillows in the washing machine, spot cleaning can work wonders.
Use upholstery shampoo and a clean sponge to wash the pillow and remove stains. Scrub in a circular motion and focus on the most soiled areas.
Once you’re done scrubbing, use a clean, white towel to blot away the moisture until the pillow is almost dry. Let it lay flat to dry completely before replacing any pillow covers.
For stains, use a spot cleaner like Shout to spray the stain before you put it in the washing machine. Once you spray the stain, you’ll usually need to rub the saturated area to spread the cleaner out and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a wet rag to blot and rinse the stain clean.
How to clean pillows that can’t be washed
Some pillows need to be dry cleaned. Be sure to read the label for cleaning instructions before you toss your pillows in the washing machine.
You can do this yourself at home by dipping a dry sponge into a dry-cleaning solution for fabric. Scrub the pillow in a circular motion.
Once you’re done scrubbing, use a clean, white towel to remove any moisture.
How to keep your pillows clean
Nobody wants to cuddle up with a bunch of dust and allergens hiding inside your pillow, but there are a few things you can do to keep your pillows clean between washings.
First, make it a rule to avoid eating or drinking around your pillows. Accidental spills can not only stain your pillow but also trap nasty smells and moisture inside the pillow filling.
Use pillow protectors for an extra layer of protection underneath your pillowcase. The protectors can prevent dust and dead skin from getting into your pillows so they stay cleaner longer. Wash your pillow protectors every month and your pillows twice each year.
Also, don’t forget to fluff your pillows regularly. When you make your bed or straighten up the living room, fluff your pillows to revive the filling and remove dust. You can also toss some pillows in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them up and get rid of any moisture.