How To Wash Pillows (And How Often To Do It)

While washing your sheets and blankets, have you wondered if you needed to throw your pillows in too? The answer: YES! Learn how to wash your pillows properly so they are clean and fluffy. Plus, I’ll share how often you should do it.


Woman learning how to wash pillows and put them away neatly

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When was the last time you washed your pillows? Did you just throw it into the washing machine and hope for the best? Or perhaps you just covered it up with a clean pillowcase and tried not to think about it?


Believe it or not, our pillows collect things over time that we would probably rather forget about, including:


  • Oil
  • Sweat
  • Dirt
  • Saliva
  • Bacteria
  • and even mold!


Ick ?


Did you just shudder involuntarily? – ‘cause I did!


Many people will clean their mattress and their pillowcases but not give their pillows another thought. If you’re wondering how to properly wash your pillows, then keep on reading! 


Be sure to note that not all types of pillows can be washed the same way, but I’ve got you covered with methods to clean nearly every type of pillow.


Pro Tip: Can your yellow, stained pillow be salvaged? Most of the time, yes. However, if it’s moist without intending to be moist, it needs to be thrown out.


How Often Do I Need To Wash My Pillows?


This is a question I hear a lot and the answer may surprise you!


If you have a pillow cover that can be removed, wash it frequently, as often as once a week. When it comes to washing the actual pillow, you can get by with washing it as often as every 3-4 months.


It really depends on the kind of pillow you and how frequently you use it. And let’s be real… we aren’t thinking about this often and if you are like me, you’ll put it off and end up just buying a new one.


BUT let’s save some money and at least try adding it to your  “once a year” chore list!


How To Wash Pillows- The Right Way


Unless the care tag on your pillow says “dry clean only,” you can probably machine wash your pillow right at home.


That being said, there are some types of pillows that aren’t able to be washed in the machine. So, I would highly recommend checking the tags first before potentially ruining one of your favorite pillows!


If your pillow doesn’t have a tag, check further down in the post where I cover general methods for how to wash different types of pillows.


How To Wash Your Pillows In The Washing Machine


For those pillows that can go into the washing machine, try to put two pillows in at a time to keep it balanced and wash using this method:


1. Use a gentle cycle (or delicate cycle) and a small amount of mild detergent.


2. Add an extra cold water rinse to the cycle.


3. To dry, choose a low heat cycle to prevent causing heat damage to your pillow.


Pro Tip: If you throw a couple of wool balls into the dryer with your pillow, they will help break up any clumps in your pillow and draw out moisture to help your pillow dry faster. If you don’t have wool balls, you could also put a tennis ball inside a tube sock for the same effect.


How To Remove Stubborn Stains


If you notice stains that didn’t come out (drool stains are notoriously hard to remove!) after you’ve washed and dried your pillow, you’ll want to soak your pillow cover (not the whole pillow) in some bleach water. 


To do this, add ¼ cup bleach to a gallon of cold water and let it soak for a couple of hours. Remove from the bleach water and wash and dry as normal.


How To Spot Clean A Pillow


Some pillows (like memory foam pillows) aren’t able to be washed in the washing machine. Instead, you’ll have to spot clean those pillows.


Grab these supplies to get started: 

  • Clean cloth
  • Detergent
  • Spot/Stain remover


Follow these steps to spot clean your pillow: 


1. Dampen your rag and get a little detergent on it.


2. Rub the spot on your pillow that you want to remove and rub it into the pillow.


3. If that doesn’t work, spray with the stain remover and let it sit.


4. Rinse out your cloth and wipe down your pillow cover; allow it to sit out until it’s dry.


How To Wash And Dry Different Types of Pillows


In case you cut off your tags and don’t remember how to care for them, here’s how to wash different types of pillows.


How To Wash Polyester Pillows 


This type of pillow is one of the easiest to wash because it’s very machine-friendly. 


Spot clean it if necessary and then throw it into the washing machine following the directions above.


Once it’s done washing, put it in the dryer on a low heat setting and dry for as many cycles as it takes to get that polyester fill dry.


How To Wash Down Pillows 


Most down and fiberfill (down alternative) pillows are machine wash friendly. Check your care instructions to confirm, but if you’ve removed your tag, follow these instructions!


1. Put your pillow(s) in the washer and select a gentle cycle with warm water.


2. Add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle.


3. Use only a small amount of gentle detergent.


4. To dry, choose a low heat cycle and include wool dryer balls or a tennis ball in a tube sock to plump up your pillows.


How To Wash Feather Pillows 


Can you wash your feather pillows? Yes! The process for washing feather pillows is pretty similar to washing down or synthetic pillows, and they come out of the dryer so nice and fluffy.


1. Put your pillow(s) in the washer and select a gentle cycle with warm water.


2. Add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle.


3. Choose the fastest spin speed that you can to remove as much water as possible.


4. Use only a small amount of gentle detergent.


5. To dry, choose a low or medium heat cycle and include wool dryer balls or a tennis ball in a tube sock to plump up your pillows.


Pro Tip: If you notice that your pillows have an odor or are clumping after you pull them out of the dryer, that most likely means the filling still isn’t dry. Run another dryer cycle to finish drying the filling.


How To Wash Memory Foam Pillows


Unfortunately, memory foam pillows aren’t able to be thrown into the washing machine, but it’s still important to clean them regularly.


Here’s how:


1. Remove pillowcases and put them into the washing machine on the gentle cycle.


2. Spot clean any spots on the pillow following the directions above (take care not to get too rough when scrubbing or get the foam too wet).


3. Put the pillow on the NO HEAT cycle for about 20 minutes and then let it sit out until the pillow is completely dry.


Pro Tip: Using pillow covers can help protect your pillows to extend the life of your pillows!


Washing Pillows: Final Thoughts


Learning how to wash pillows really isn’t as hard or as intimidating as it might seem at first. Cleaning your pillows regularly makes a huge difference in how long your pillows last as well as in how well you sleep.


Those pillows are going to feel so fresh and amazing!


Read More And Continue Keeping Your Home Clean:


Extreme Spring Cleaning Checklist (Free Printable)

How to Clean Your Room and Keep It Clean

Make Your Bedroom a Natural and Healthy Place to Sleep


1 Comment

  1. Newton

    March 21, 2021 at 10:36 am

    This is so important to know and nobody actually teaches you! Thank you for sharing.

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