How To Wash A Pillow 🛏️ [3 Simple Tips]

Pillows are always rubbing against our faces. With time, it accumulates dust, grease, and sweat, which can cause dead skin cells to build upon the pillowcase even if you’re using a cover! While regular cleaning of sheets and cases is important for health reasons- there’s one more thing you should do: wash your pillows!

Pillows can be washed in the washing machine at home if they are washer safe. Pillows that you can’t throw in the washer, a deep clean in the tub following the laundry stripping process, or spot cleaning with wet towels can give you the same result as getting them washed professionally at the dry cleaners.

Getting your pillows cleaned by your local dry cleaner may not always be a good option. I have failed to get my pillows back in time on multiple occasions, and no one wants to spend a night sleeping without any pillows. Besides, since I have switched to washing my pillows at home by myself, I have saved money too. Here are three simple tips on how to wash your pillows at home efficiently.

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Tip 1: Put Your Pillows In The Washer

Washing pillows by simply tossing them in the washer is the most convenient and time-saving process. I mostly wash my pillows in the washer because they are washer safe. Washing machines are safe for most pillows except for memory foam or latexOpens in a new tab..

However, washing your pillows at home for the first time may be a daunting task given how fragile typical or even decorative pillows can be. The agitator may even tear through your pillows if the washer is packed. I have compiled a list of tips I have learned through mistakes:

Check The Label

Each of your pillows has a label indicating whether they are washer safe. It is very easy to forget to check the labels, but it is the most important thing. Even if you have a polyester or down pillow, the shell may not be suitable for a washer. If your pillow is missing the label, it is safe to follow a different method of washing.

Use Lukewarm Water

Because your pillows accumulate everything from sweat to sebum, the contents inside your pillow become very greasy. Cold water will fail to thoroughly rinse off the grease, while hot water may damage the pillow. The warm water function is the most appropriate for your pillow.

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Pillows are usually tightly packed, and that means you need more soap to clean them thoroughly than you would for a pile of laundry that’s the size of the pillowOpens in a new tab.. It may be smart to use a mild scented detergent to wash off the smell easily.

Use Medium Or A Slower Spin Cycle

You may have a risk of exploding your pillows in the wash from the constant rubbing against the agitator. So, choose the slowest, gentle cycle available or the medium spin cycle if your pillow shell seems rigid enough.

Load One Or Two Pillows At A Time

Tightly packing the washer will surely break the pillow shells and may even damage your washer. Load two pillows only if there seems to be a comfortable space between the pillows in the washer.

Dry Slowly:

Drying the pillows is the least time-efficient task of this process, but slow and careful drying will ensure the durability of your pillows. Avoid auto settings in the dryer since it will only dry the pillow’s surface, leaving dampness inside. Use low heat, take them out every 20-30 minutes to fluff them up, and repeat until fully dry.

While washing your pillows in the washerOpens in a new tab. for the very first time, it’s better to check in on them from time to time. In case of any tear in the pillows due to your washing machine type, immediately switch to a different washing method for the rest of your pillows. However, the chances of an accident are low, and this washing method will save both your time and effort.

Tip 2: Soak Your Pillows In The Tub

Laundry stripping is done by soaking the pillows in water. You can soak smaller pillows in the sink, but the tub is the best choice for better cleaning. It not only cleans the pillows thoroughly but also whitens your pillows like brand new.

The most time-consuming of the washing styles, laundry strippingOpens in a new tab. is safe for any pillow as long as it is safe to soak them. I find it a very satisfying process and recommend doing so at least once a year. If you are trying it out for the first time, the following tips might help.

Clean The Tub

Before setting up the pillows for a deep clean, don’t forget to clean your tub. The last thing you want is your hair and soap residues from the last bath to stick to your pillows.

Wash The Pillows Under Running Water

Running water washes off all sorts of loose particles like dust and hair. This will keep the water free of any hair or crusted skin cells once you start soaking the pillows.

Soak The Pillows In Hot Water Solution

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Mix Borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent in hot water in the tub. This method requires hot water, so be sure to check the labels of your pillow. Soak 3-4 pillows in the tub at a time for 30-35 minutes.

Knead The Pillow

Once the water starts to turn yellow by stripping all the dirt off your pillows, knead the pillows with gloved hands or with the help of a stick. Motions like a washer agitator will allow the cleaning solution to soak evenly inside the pillow.

Rinse In Lukewarm Water

After soaking, you should let the dirty water run down. Rinsing the pillows under running water afterward makes any dirty residue wash off. Besides, rinsing thoroughly will remove all soap and help you sleep comfortably without the strong smell of detergent lingering in your pillows.

Dry Gently

Once clean, your pillows should be white as brand new. Drying carelessly can cause the pillows to shrink or lump up and harden. You can dry the pillows in the dryer slowly, or you can hang them on the clothesline. Sun-drying makes your pillows feel much fresher than drying in the dryer.

Laundry stripping is a very strong method of washing. Try to avoid mixing your white and colored pillows in the same wash and check the labels on your pillows before you start. I love this washing method because I can watch the stains wash out from the pillows and get squeaky-clean pillows in the end.

Tip 3: Clean The Spots Off Your Pillows

Spot cleaning is done by rubbing a damp cloth over the pillow shell. It is quite time-consuming and requires a high amount of labor. Besides, spot cleaning is more concentrated on removing specific stains rather than cleaning the whole pillow. However, some of the most delicate materials might only be cleaned this way.

Spot cleaning is easy to carry out. Be sure to follow some extra cleaning and precautionary steps for the best results.

Vacuum The Pillow

Pillows will gather a lot of dust and dry skin that seep in through the weaves of the pillowcase. Vacuuming will ensure that you can fully remove all the dirty particles.

Air Out The Pillow

Hanging the pillow on the clothesline on a sunny and breezy day will air out your pillows. Sunlight is known to kill various parasites living in your pillow. Besides, it also helps remove any dampness from sweat and drool, and it will pass out the stink. If airing out is not possible, you can put your pillow in the dryerOpens in a new tab. with the no-heat or air-only cycle option.

Choose The Right Solution

Since spot cleaning is targeted towards a certain stain, your cleaning solution will vary. Hydrogen peroxide, borax, vinegar, etc., can be mixed with the laundry soap and water solution depending on what sort of stain you have on your pillow.

Clean Only The Spots

The cleaning solution can be too strong and damaging for your delicate pillows. Using it on the entire pillow may wear out or even tear the pillow shell and cause damage to its contents. So make sure to rub the solution exactly on the stained spots.

Rub With A Damp Cloth

Always avoid pouring out the solution on the pillow since the strong chemicals may ruin the feather or other contents inside the pillow. To keep the pillows safe and durable, dip a piece of soft cloth in the cleaning solution and rub it on the spot. Rub the rest of the pillow with a cloth dampened with a very mild soap-and-water solution only. Be gentle while rubbing to avoid friction damage and using excess water.

Sun Dry

Pillows that are not washable should also be kept away from the dryer. Instead, hang your pillows in the line under the sun. The sun slowly dries out any wet spots on the pillow and gives your pillows a fresh sun-dried scent.

Spot cleaning does not clean the pillows thoroughly. If there is a way to remove all the pillow stuffing, I recommend taking out the stuffing and letting them dry in the sun while you wash the shell in the washer with the rest of your bedding.

Choosing What’s The Best for You

The method of washing ideal for you depends on personal choices, time, practicality, and most importantly, the type of pillows you use. The following comprehensive list will help you decide which tip is the most compatible with your pillows. 

Down (or Down Alternative) And Feather Pillow

Down pillows are made from duck underbellies, while the alternatives are made from synthetic fibers which mimic the original down material. Down as well as Feather pillows are very soft but strong and durable. They are washer safe, and washing them in the washing machine is the best and fastest process.

Cotton And Wool

The most common type of pillows, Cotton or Wool pillows, are easy to clean in the washing machine. However, care should be taken to avoid the pillows bursting. Wool pillows are dried better in the dryer instead of the sun.

Memory Foam Pillow, Latex, and Innerspring

The materials in the pillow filling are soft and chunky, which can easily be destroyed by the agitators in your washing machine. Memory foam and Latex pillows can either be soaked or spot cleaned. Innerspring pillows contain steel springs, and it is best to avoid soaking them.

Polyester Pillow

Polyester is a very strong synthetic material. These pillows can be washed or soaked, depending on your preference.

Gel And Microbeads

Microbeads are made from unexpanded polyester, and gel is added with memory foam pillows. As they are synthetic materials, they are usually machine washable. However, if they are infused in latex or foam pillows, it is best to spot clean these types of pillows.

Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat hulls are usually removable. They are very durable and easily biodegradable. However, the plant-based material is quickly damaged when exposed to water. To wash them, remove the buckwheat hull filling from the pillow shell and dry them in the sun while washing the shell in the washer with the sheets and pillowcases.

However, the most important thing that should determine which way to wash the pillows is the label on the pillows. Washing instructions are usually mentioned there. Whichever way you choose to follow, you can always wash them at home and avoid the hassle at the dry cleaners’. Washing my pillows at home gives me the freedom to wash them as often as I may need and the satisfaction of watching the pillows turn from their old stained raggy state to looking brand new.


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