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How to Wash Pillows

Two Methods:Washing Cotton, Down, and Synthetic PillowsWashing Memory Foam Pillows

Pillows, just like the rest of the textiles in our homes, need occasional cleanings to remove dust, sweat, and oil buildup. Although it may seem easier to just buy new pillows, washing your old ones is a cinch! If your pillows are yellowed or haven't been washed in more than 6 months, use one of these methods to clean them up quick. You'll be sleeping happier knowing that you're resting on fresh fabric!

Method 1
Washing Cotton, Down, and Synthetic Pillows

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    Remove the case. If you have placed your pillow in a pillowcase or sham, take this off now. Some pillows come with additional zip-on cases that should also be removed and washed separately from the body of the pillow.
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    Put your pillows in the washing machine. Don’t worry - it is perfectly safe to wash pillows (even down pillows) in the washing machine. Try to wash at least two at once so that the washer is balanced and the pillows don’t get thrown around so much.
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    Add your detergent. For a regular wash job, add a cup/scoop of your regular washing detergent. To get your pillows ultra white, add the following in addition to the detergent: 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, 1 cup of bleach, and ½ a cup of borax.[1]
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    Start the wash cycle. Adjust the settings on your washer so that it runs with hot water and goes through a 2nd rinse cycle. Then let it work its magic!
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    Put your pillows in the dryer. Place your pillows in the dryer and adjust the settings; if your pillows are feather-filled, put your dryer on the ‘air’ setting. For synthetic pillows, switch your dryer to low heat.
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    Dry your pillows. Take two tennis balls and put them in separate clean, white socks. Throw these in the dryer with your pillows to fluff them and help decrease their drying time. Then start your dryer!
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    Check your pillows. When your dryer has finished its cycle, remove the pillows and feel them, checking for dampness. Smell the pillows to check for moisture in the center. If your pillows don’t feel quite dry, repeat the drying process and check them again a second time. Otherwise, your pillows are clean and ready![2]

Method 2
Washing Memory Foam Pillows

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    Remove the cover. If your pillow has a pillowcase or sham, take it off prior to washing. Most memory foam pillows also have a zip-on protective cover that should be removed as well. These items can be washed separately and in a washing machine.
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    Fill a tub with water. Washing machines prove too rough for sensitive memory foam, so pillows of this material must be hand washed. Fill a tub (or your sink) with warm water. You only need enough water to cover the pillow.
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    Add your detergent. For each pillow, add a tablespoon of liquid clothes detergent to the water. Swirl it around with your hands a bit to bubble it up and get it evenly mixed.
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    Wash your pillow. Place your pillow in the water, and move it around the bit to help the detergent to work its way in. Massage and squeeze the pillow with your hands to help get dirt out and to freshen it past the outer layer.
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    Rinse the pillow. Run the pillow under fresh water. It is important to get as much of the soap out as you can, checking for suds in the runout. Rinsing the pillow may take several minutes longer than washing it.
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    Dry the pillow. High heat levels can ruin the memory foam and cause it to crumble, so do not put your memory foam pillow in the dryer. Instead, lay it out on a clean white towel in a dry area. If possible, allow it to dry in the sun.
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    Check the pillow. Memory foam is especially susceptible to holding water for a long time, as it is made out of a sponge-like material. Make sure that there is absolutely no water left in the material before bringing it back for use on your bed, otherwise it will begin to grow mold and mildew.


  • Pillows should be washed 2-3 times per year to remove sweat, bodily oils, dander, and dust buildup.
  • Check your pillow to see if you need to replace it altogether. If you fold your pillow in half and it stays in place, it is too old and needs to be replaced. If your pillow springs back, then it is good and just needs a washing. On average, you should replace your pillows once every two years.
  • Throw pillows on couches can be cleaned the same way the pillows on your bed can. Just be sure to remove their covers when possible to keep them protected.

Article Info

Categories: Bedding and Mattress Care