How Do You Wash a Pillow? Expert Cleaning Tips and Tricks

When was the last time you washed your pillow? It’s time for a good cleaning if you can’t remember. Pillows collect much dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells over time, making them breeding grounds for …

When was the last time you washed your pillow? It’s time for a good cleaning if you can’t remember. Pillows collect much dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells over time, making them breeding grounds for bacteria and dust mites.
Regularly washing your pillows not only helps prevent allergies and skin irritation but also ensures that you have a hygienic sleep environment. But the question remains – how do you wash a pillow?
In this article, we’ll take you through different pillow cleaning methods you can easily do at home. From machine washing to hand washing, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pillows collect dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells over time, making them a breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites.
  • Regularly washing your pillows helps prevent allergies and skin irritation and ensures a hygienic sleep environment.
  • In this article, we’ll take you through different pillow cleaning methods you can easily do at home.

Why Should You Clean Your Pillows Regularly?

While many people diligently wash pillowcases and sheets, the pillows often need to be paid attention. However, regular pillow maintenance is crucial for a comfortable and healthy sleep environment. Here are some reasons why you should clean your pillows regularly:

  1. Hygiene: Pillow will accumulate dust, sweat, oils, dead skin cells, and even allergens, so regular cleaning of the pillow will maintain your health. It is essential for better sleep and prevents you from irritating your skin irritation. To prevent you from various allergic reactions, the wash product can cause a regular, clean, and comfortable pillow.
  2. Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on dead skin cells. They are a common allergen, and their waste products can cause allergic reactions, particularly in those with asthma or other respiratory issues.
  3. Allergens: Besides dust mites, pillows can accumulate other antigens such as pollen or pet dander, which can cause sinus problems and other respiratory issues.
  4. Pillow quality: Regular cleaning can help maintain the quality of your pillows and prevent them from becoming lumpy or losing shape over time.

By regularly cleaning your pillows, you can ensure a clean and comfortable sleeping environment while extending your pillows’ life. In the next section, we’ll discuss the different washing methods available for pillows.

Identifying the Right Washing Method for Your Pillow

Not all pillows are created equal; each type requires specific washing instructions to maintain quality and cleanliness. Some pillows can be easily machine washed, while others require hand washing or professional cleaning. To ensure you’re washing your pillows correctly, you must first identify what type of pillow you have.

Pillow Type Washing Method
Synthetic pillows Machine washable
Down pillows Professional cleaning or hand washing
Memory foam pillows Spot clean only, no water immersion
Lumbar or orthopedic pillows Hand wash or professional cleaning

Always check the care label with your pillow or consult the manufacturer’s website for specific washing instructions when in doubt.

Machine Washable Pillows

Machine washable pillows are the easiest to clean and typically only require a gentle cycle in the washing machine. However, it’s important to note that some types of filling, like foam or down alternative, may require a specific type of detergent or temperature setting. Always follow the care label instructions or manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid damaging your pillow.

Remove any pillow protectors when washing machine washable pillows and place two pillows in the washing machine to balance the load. Use a mild detergent and set the cycle to gentle or delicate, depending on the thickness of your pillows. Avoid hot water and high-speed spin cycles, which can damage the filling.

Hand Washing Pillows

Some pillows, such as down or feather pillows, cannot be machine washed and must be hand washed. Hand washing is also suitable for pillows with delicate materials or intricate embroidery. To hand wash a pillow:

  1. Fill a big sink or bathtub with slightly warm water and a gentle detergent.
  2. Submerge the pillow in the water and mildly agitate it to remove dirt and stains.
  3. Drain the soapy water and wash the pillow thoroughly with clean water.
  4. Press out as much water as possible without wringing or twisting the pillow.
  5. Place the pillow on a clean towel and roll it tightly to squeeze out the remaining water.
  6. Repeat the rolling process with another dry towel until the pillow is primarily dry, then air dry completely.

It’s important to note that hand washing can be time-consuming and needs much effort to ensure the pillow is adequately cleaned and dried.

Machine Washing Pillows: Step-by-Step Guide

Machine washing pillows is a common and straightforward way to clean them. However, following the proper instructions is essential to avoid damaging the pillow’s filling.

Selecting the Right Detergent

When choosing a detergent, select a mild one appropriate for the pillow’s fabric. try to not have fabric softeners, as they can leave a remanants that could harm the pillow’s filling.

Preparing the Washing Machine

Before keeping the pillows in the washing machine, check for tears, rips, or any damages. Place the pillows in the device evenly to avoid an unbalanced load. Add a few towels to equate the load. Set the machine to a gentle cycle and warm water.

Washing and Rinsing

Run the machine through a gentle cycle with warm water and mild detergent. After the cycle finishes, run an extra w wash cycle to ensure that all the detergent is removed.


Machine-dry the pillows on low heat, adding clean tennis ball or dryer ball to help fluff the pillows. Check the pillows periodically during drying to ensure they don’t overheat.
Avoid using a high heat setting to prevent damage to the filling. It’s also essential to ensure the pillows are completely dry before use to prevent mold or mildew from forming.

Hand Washing Pillows: Step-by-Step Guide

If your pillows are not machine washable or if you prefer hand-washing, follow the steps:

  1. Fill a sink with slightly warm water and add up a little amount of mild laundry detergent. Avoid using hot water, which can mar the pillow filling.
  2. Remove the pillowcase and place it in the water, gently pushing it down to ensure it is fully submerged.
  3. Use your hands to gently massage the pillow, focusing on any stained or soiled areas. Avoid squeezing, twisting, or scrubbing the pillow, as this can damage the filling.
  4. Drain the bubbly water and refill the sink with clean. Rinse the pillow thoroughly, pressing it gently to remove excess water.
  5. Repeat the rinsing process until all soap residue is removed.
  6. Squeeze out as much water as possible and carefully transfer the pillow to a clean towel.
  7. Gently press the pillow into the towel to remove any remaining water, being careful not to deform the shape of the pillow.
  8. Lay the pillow flat on a dry towel and allow it to air-dry completely, flipping it over periodically to ensure even drying.

Note: For down or feather pillows, adding a couple of tennis ball or dryer ball to the dryer is recommended to help fluff the filling while drying. 

Additional Pillow Cleaning Methods

In addition to machine and hand washing, there are other methods you can use to keep your pillows clean and fresh.

Spot Cleaning

Spot clean is a quick and easy stain for the removable for easy stain. Removing the different stains in a spot and having a different form of the pillow to maintain the different types of a spot is an easy cleanness of the pillow. Removing the different methods for the different pillows will give an understanding of the stain and remove the spot. The first step is to clear the spot or stain for the different places, as you will have different forms. To understand the stain, you can have a most suitable clean technique.  

Dry Cleaning

If your pillows are particularly delicate or have delicate decorative elements, dry cleaning may be the best option. Take them to a professional dry cleaner and inform them of any special care instructions or concerns.

Odor Removal with Baking Soda and Vinegar

If your pillows start to smell funky, there’s an easy fix. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the pillow’s surface and let it rest for a few hours. Then, suck up the baking soda and spray the pillow with a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Allow the pillow to air dry thoroughly before using it again

Drying and Fluffing Your Pillows

Once you have cleaned your pillows, it’s essential to dry them properly to maintain their shape and quality. Improper drying can cause clumping, loss of fluffiness, and even mildew growth.
If you have machine-washable pillows, you can put them in the dryer in a low-heat setting. Be sure to add a couple of clean tennis ball or dryer ball to help fluff the pillows and prevent clumping. Stop the drying process every 30 minutes or so and manually fluff the pillows to ensure even drying.
For hand-washable pillows, gently press the excess water out with a towel before drying them to air dry. Abstain from direct sunlight and heat sources, as they can cause damage to the pillows and alter their shape. Fluff the pillows periodically during the drying process to help maintain their fluffiness.
Remember never to dry clean pillows or use direct heat sources to dry them, as this can damage the filling materials.

Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Pillows

Keeping your pillows clean is vital for a good night’s sleep, but proper care can extend their lifespan. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your pillows:

  • Use a pillow protector to free your pillows from dust, stains, and allergens. This will reduce the frequency of washing and protect the pillow filling from damage.
  • Rotate your pillows regularly to distribute the wear and tear evenly. Flipping your pillows every few months also helps to maintain their shape and support.
  • Air out your pillows periodically by placing them in a sunny, well-ventilated area. This will help to remove moisture and intercept the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Consider investing in a high-quality pillow that is designed to last longer. Pillows with durable materials like latex or memory foam can provide better support and withstand more wear and tear.

By following these tips, you can keep your pillows clean and comfortable for years.

When to Replace Your Pillows

Although regular washing and proper pillow care can extend the lifespan of your pillows, it’s still important to replace them eventually. Over time, pillows lose shape and support, leading to discomfort and poor sleep quality. Here are some signs that it’s time to replace your pillows:

  • Lumps and bumps: If your pillow feels lumpy or has clumps of filling, it’s a sign that the filling has shifted and is no longer evenly distributed.
  • Flatness: A flat pillow no longer provides the support your head and neck need, leading to stiffness and discomfort.
  • Yellowing or discoloration: Sweat, oils, and other bodily fluids can discolor pillows over time, which can be a sign that they are no longer hygienic.
  • Odors: A musty or unpleasant smell coming from your pillow can indicate a buildup of bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Allergies: If you find yourself sneezing or experiencing other allergy symptoms despite regular cleaning, your pillows may have accumulated too much dust, pollen, and other allergens.

Generally, most pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years, depending on usage and care. However, if you notice any of the above signs before this timeframe, it’s a good indication that it’s time to replace your pillows for a healthier, more comfortable sleep environment.

Caring for Specialty Pillows

Specialty pillows, such as memory foam, down pillows, or orthopedic pillows, require special care to maintain their unique features.

Caring for Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows should not be rinsed in a washing machine or submerged in water. Instead, spot clean with a wet cloth and mild detergent, allowing air to dry completely. try to avoid using high heat or direct sunlight to dry, as it can mar the foam. Fluff the pillow regularly to maintain its shape.

Caring for Down Pillows

Down pillows can be machine washed gently using a mild detergent. Ensure that the pillow is thoroughly dry before using it again to intercept mold or mildew growth. Fluffing the pillow regularly and using a pillow protector can also help preserve its quality.

Caring for Orthopedic Pillows

Orthopedic pillows are designed to alleviate pain and discomfort and should be handled carefully. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance, as some orthopedic pillows cannot be washed. If washing is possible, use a gentle cycle and mild detergent, and air dry completely. Use a pillow protector to maintain cleanliness and avoid exposure to direct sunlight or high heat.


Regularly washing your pillows is crucial for maintaining a clean and hygienic sleep environment. Keeping your pillows clean can also help reduce allergens and dust mites, prolong the lifespan of your pillows, and ensure a good night’s sleep. Remember to identify the appropriate washing method for your pillow based on its type and follow the recommended washing instructions to avoid damaging the filling or cover.
When washing pillows, you can choose between machine, hand, or alternative cleaning methods like spot cleaning, dry cleaning, or using baking soda and vinegar for odor removal. After washing, ensure proper drying methods, such as air-drying and fluffing, while avoiding direct heat sources to maintain pillow shape and quality.
You can enjoy a more cozy and healthy sleep experience by taking care of your pillows. Remember to replace your pillows when necessary and follow specific care instructions for specialty pillows like memory foam, down, or orthopedic pillows. Incorporating these tips into your pillow maintenance routine can help you enjoy all the benefits of a good night’s sleep!


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