Feather pillows add a soft touch of luxury to any bedroom, and they are incredibly comfortable. If you want to keep your feather pillows looking and smelling fresh, you will need to know how to wash them. Pillows accumulate dirt, oils, dead skin cells, and more over time. If you don’t care for them, they become a haven for mites and other organisms.
To wash your feather pillows, first, remove the pillowcase and the protective covering. Look for any tears that could allow feathers to come out. You should try to wash a couple of pillows together to keep the washing machine balanced and use a gentle detergent and warm or cool water. Make sure that you do an extra rinse and spin cycle to remove any remaining soap residue and moisture.
Keeping your pillows clean is key to your health and comfort, but you need to balance the need to clean with doing what you can to protect your pillows.
Differences Between Down and Feather Pillows
Some people use the terms “down” and “feather” interchangeably. However, there are differences that are worthy of note. The down feathers come from the undercoating of a goose. These feathers provide insulation against the elements such as cold air, and they cluster together inside your pillow. They have a unique property of clinging together while allowing airflow, which makes them a fluffy fill for pillows.
Feather pillows also come from geese, but they come from the wings and back feathers. They are flat and heavier than down feathers. They do provide soft and fluffy filling, but normal feathers can lose their shape more quickly than down feathers.
How to Wash Feather Pillows
Although you shouldn’t wash your feather pillow all the time, you should wash it when it needs it. Most feather pillows fit inside of a standard washing machine, which makes it easy to clean them. You just need to follow these steps.
1. Remove the Pillow From the Pillowcase and Protector
Before you wash your pillow, you should remove it from both the pillowcase and the protector if you use one. You should always wash your bed linens and your protective coverings separately. It is ideal to wash two pillows at a time to balance the weight distribution in the washing machine.
Once you remove the pillowcases, look over the pillows to ensure they are free of any rips or tears. Any hole in the pillow is a place where feathers may come out while it is washing. If you find a rip or a tear, you should sew it up with a needle and thread before washing the pillow. Losing feathers will compromise the support your pillow provides, so it is important to make sure that you keep the pillow in good shape.
2. Place the Pillows in the Washing Machine
Load your pillows vertically in the washing machine so that they won’t be harmed by the agitator. If you have a front-loading washing machine without an agitator, that is best, but you can use any washing machine where your pillows fit comfortably.
3. Choose Detergent Carefully
If you are going to use detergent, you need one with low suds that is gentle. You can wash your pillows without detergent, but you will need it in some cases. A soap with low suds reduces the chance that soap residue clings to the pillow or that the feathers get clumped up together. Make sure that you use less detergent than you would for clothing.
4. Set the Water Temperature
Next, you need to set the water temperature. Although hot water works great for killing dust mites and any other bacteria or germs, it can also damage the feathers in your pillow. Instead of hot water, use warm or cool water to wash your down or feather pillows.
5. Use the Gentle Cycle
You should use the gentle cycle or the delicate setting when you wash your pillows. This cycle will ensure that your feather interior isn’t damaged during the wash cycle.
6. Do an Extra Rinse and Spin
You should have a setting that allows you to do an additional rinse and spin. This is a good idea because it helps to ensure that any lingering soap residue is washed away, and it removes any excess moisture from the feathers inside.
Once the washing machine cycle is complete, your pillows are clean. Next, you need to dry them.
How to Dry Feather Pillows
You can put your feather pillow in the dryer, but you need to follow the tips below.
1. Remove Any Excess Water
When your feather pillows finish washing, you should make sure that you remove any excess water. Place a towel on a flat surface and lay the pillow on the towel. Then take another towel over the top of the pillow. You can press down on it to force any remaining water out of the pillow. The towels will soak them up. You shouldn’t wring the pillow or twist it because it could harm the feathers in the pillow.
2. Put Your Pillow in the Dryer
Once you have removed all of the excess water, you can place it in the dryer. You should put the damp towels in the dryer with them to keep the dryer balanced. You need to use a delicate cycle, and it should be low heat or no heat. You may need to run it through several cycles. The important thing is to make sure that you don’t use heat because it will damage the feathers.
3. Check Your Pillows Between Cycles
After the first cycle finishes, you should take your pillows out and fluff them. You can beat the pillows to break up any clumping that may have happened inside the pillow. Then, put them back into the dryer and rerun the cycle. You can continue this process until your pillows are completely dry.
Can You Air Dry Your Feather Pillows?
Drying your feather pillows in the dryer is a time-consuming process, so you might wonder if you can air dry them. If you plan to air dry, you should wash them early in the morning, and you can place them out in the sun on a warm day. The rays of the sun will dry the pillows the same way that they would the feathers on a goose or a duck.
What to Do If Your Pillow Smells After You Wash it
If your feather pillow smells bad after you wash it, this most likely means that the feathers aren’t dry yet. However, there are a few other possible reasons.
Sweat and saliva seep into your pillow while you are sleeping, and they cause your pillow to stay damp and possibly turn yellow. This can also cause your pillow to smell bad. When the feathers in your pillow are exposed to moisture, they can smell because they have a high oil concentration.
It is important to ensure that your pillow is thoroughly dry because it causes problems other than emitting a bad odor. The moist environment inside of your pillow can provide a place for mold and mildew to grow. Once this happens, you will need to throw the pillow away and replace it.
Why You Should Avoid Detergent When Washing Your Feather Pillow
Feathers were made to protect geese and other birds. The larger feathers block moisture from reaching the down feathers, which have air trapped and protect the bird from cold weather. The feathers have some natural oils that help them keep the bird dry.
When you wash your feather pillows with detergent, it will strip the oils from the feathers. When this happens, the feathers dry out and become brittle, making them more likely to break. They will become sharp inside of your pillow, and they can poke you and be very uncomfortable.
You should use a mild product, such as one made specifically for feather pillows. You can also wash your pillows with water alone. If you use any detergent, make sure that it is gentle and only use it in an emergency.
How Often Should You Wash Your Feather Pillows?
Using pillowcases and protectors will keep your pillow much cleaner because they will absorb a lot of the sweat, moisture, oils, and chemicals that seep into your pillow while you are sleeping. You may not realize that you sweat at night, but it is how your body regulates your body temperature while you are sleeping.
Your scalp secretes sebum and oils as well, and they will make their way onto your pillow. If you go to bed with wet hair, the moisture will get into the pillow and cause it to fade to yellow over time. You won’t need to wash your pillows as frequently if you take steps to change some of your nighttime habits.
First, you should avoid getting your pillow wet. You should never go to bed with wet hair. The moisture mixes with some of the natural oils in your hair, and it gets in your pillow and stains it. Either dry your hair before you go to bed or take your shower early enough to let it dry naturally.
If you use skin care products in your nighttime routine, make sure that you have time for your skin to absorb the products. Some people go right to bed, and the products rub off your pillow. Not only will it stain your pillow, but you will be wasting money on your skincare products because they will rub off before they have a chance to work.
You shouldn’t wear makeup to bed, and you might consider protecting your pillow with a towel if you have recently had your hair colored. Any of these things can cause your pillows to become dirty and develop yellow stains.
Although your pillowcases and protectors will absorb a lot of the oils, sweat, and other fluids while you are sleeping, some will make their way through to your pillows. The best way to make sure that you keep your pillows clean is by washing them every six months or so. If you go to sleep with skincare products on your face or wet hair, you may need to wash your pillow more frequently.
How Long Do Feather Pillows Last?
If you wash your pillows and take steps to protect them, they can last as many as five or ten years. Some people say that you should never keep a pillow longer than three years, but you can be the judge of that. There are a few different tests that you can perform to see if your pillow has life left in it.
The first sign that you need to replace your pillow is that it no longer provides support for your neck. You might find that you wake up with a sore neck or have trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep in at night.
You might also notice that you have allergy symptoms. When dead skin cells and oils accumulate on your pillow, it is a breeding ground for tiny mites and bacteria. You may notice that you are congested or that you are sneezing at night.
Another sign is that your pillow turns yellow, and you can no longer get it clean. Check to see if your pillow is developing clumpy areas, and don’t hang onto it after it starts clumping or sagging.
Why It Is Important to Replace Your Pillow
Many people don’t realize that it is important to replace their pillows. They find a favorite, and they get attached to it. However, pillows past their useful life can lead to skin breakouts, a sore neck, and allergies.
Older pillows may have allergens, such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, fungus, and more. This can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Your pillow must provide the support you need, so you should replace it when it is time.