How to Properly Clean your Pillows

How to Properly Clean your Pillows

How to Properly Clean your Pillows


How often do you clean your pillows? This question may take you by surprise because you haven’t really seen the need to. After all, you have your pillowcase to keep them clean. If you think this is right, you have it all wrong.

Cleaning your pillows may not be something you always do but it is not a task that should not be neglected. In fact, it is one of the cornerstones of good sleeping hygiene. For all you know, there could be colonies of mites in there. The dust that has accumulated in it could cause health problems and they are one of the leading causes of allergies. Yikes.

However, no need to fret because cleaning your pillows is not a difficult chore. Here are a few pointers that will hopefully guide you through the task.

  • Give them an occasional wash

The best way to remove dirt, dust, dead skin cells and foul smell from your pillow is to wash them. But the washing part could get tricky; pillows have to be washed gently in order for them to not lose their shape.

So, when should you wash your pillows? The recommended cleaning schedule is twice a year. The first step in washing your pillow is to check the label for care instructions. Select the washer’s gentle cycle and run the load using lukewarm water and your choice of laundry detergent. If you are using a larger washing machine, you can wash two pillows at once in order to balance the machine’s load and for the detergent to be evenly distributed.

But remember this: washing of feather filled pillow should be done by hand in a basin with warm water and detergent. Submerge the pillow in water and gently knead right after. Make sure to drain the water from the pillow by pressing on the pillow and then rolling it in a dry towel, then put it inside the machine to dry.

  • Hang them outdoors

If you have no time for some washing, you can air your pillow out. Hanging your pillows outdoors on a bright, warm or breezy day can help get rid of the lingering smell. Leave them hanging on the clothesline for a few hours and run them on a no heat cycle dryer. This does not just remove dust, it also helps restore your pillow’s shape.

  • Make sure that the pillows are dry

When you wash your pillows, always check if the pillows are dried all the way through before you start using them. Otherwise, mildew will grow on them. You can do this by drying the pillows on moderate heat for an hour until they are drained not just on the surface but all the way to the inside. If the weather is kinder, you can get a little help by hanging the pillows on the clothesline and leaving them outdoors until you feel that there is no moisture inside them.

  • Change your covers regularly

When a pillow gathers substances such as sweat, dust, oils, and dead skin cells, it becomes terribly uncomfortable to sleep on. Maintain a good sleeping hygiene by washing your covers and pillowcases once a week. When you wash or replace your bed covers, it is also recommended to change your sheets to avoid contamination.

Cleaning Pillows by Material

Down and fiberfill

Follow the instructions on the care label. If the pillows do not have labels, toss them in your washer two at a time. The ideal machine for cleaning down and fiberfill is the top loading machine without the large spindle in the middle. However, if this option is not available, place the pillow upright to avoid damage. Keep in mind that the safe way to wash pillows is to use warm water and a gentle cycle. The correct way to dry pillows is to tumble them dry using low heat.


Pillows made of feathers are generally machine-friendly. Check your pillows for slits and tears before tossing them in the machine. Again, you can load two pillows at a time for balance. It is also recommended to use a small amount of detergent.

There is a trick in properly drying pillows, so pay close attention. In order to fluff the pillows, put them inside the machine along with clean tennis balls. Yes, you read that right – clean tennis balls are the secret. The other option would be to manually break the clumps with your hand. Pillows dry for a longer period than your clothes and to make sure that they are dry all the way through, set them in the sunlight for a few hours, this will take the moisture out of the pillows and make sure they are thoroughly dried inside out.


This you have to remember: if you have pillows made of foam, you cannot wash them using the machine. Usually, if the pillows have covers, it is best to just wash the covers. So, how do you clean the foam? You vacuum each side. Dial down the suction level for you to be able to clean it better.

Another way to clean foam pillows is to tumble them in the dryer, using air only cycle. Do this for 20 minutes. This will remove the dust that has accumulated inside. If there are spots and soiled areas, use a cloth wet with detergent, and then rinse with another clean and damp cloth. Remember to dry your pillows thoroughly before bringing them back to bed. The reason why you have to be very gentle with foam pillows is that they have the tendency to tear easily. Some foam pillows can even be washed by hand but they can get very heavy when they are wet.

Is it Time to Replace your Pillows?

Sometimes, your pillows might not just need cleaning or washing, maybe they need to retire. The good way to test if it is time to replace your pillows or buy a new set is to fold the pillow into half and wait if the pillow goes back to its natural shape. If it does not, it is time to hit the store and get new pillows. The old one can be repurposed for craft projects.

Pillows do contribute to the quality of the sleep we get. Having clean and fresh smelling pillows gives you not just extra comfort but also prevents you from inhaling dust, developing allergies, getting bitten by bugs and putting too much pressure on a part of your neck, head, or back. Sleeping is the best form of rest, and a restful sleep is definitely the result of good sleep hygiene, clean pillows included.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *