How to Wash a Pillow: Simple Steps for Clean & Fresh Bedding

Welcome to our article on how to wash a pillow. Did you know that pillows can harbor dirt, sweat, oils, and even allergens that affect sleep quality and overall hygiene? That’s why washing your pillows …

Welcome to our article on how to wash a pillow. Did you know that pillows can harbor dirt, sweat, oils, and even allergens that affect sleep quality and overall hygiene? That’s why washing your pillows regularly is essential to keep them clean and fresh.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pillows can harbor dirt, sweat, oils, and allergens, affecting sleep quality and hygiene.
  • Regularly washing pillows is essential for clean and fresh bedding.

Why Should You Wash Your Pillows Regularly?

Pillows are an essential component of a comfortable and healthy sleep environment. However, they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, dirt, sweat, oils, and allergens, accumulating over time and affecting sleep quality and overall hygiene. That’s why it’s essential to wash your pillows regularly.
Not only will washing your pillows help to eliminate these unwanted elements, but it can also help them to maintain their shape and extend their lifespan. Here are a few reasons why you should make pillow washing a regular part of your cleaning routine:

  1. Eliminates allergens: Regular washing can help to remove allergens such as dust, pet dander, and pollen, which can trigger allergies and cause discomfort during sleep.
  2. Improves sleep quality: A clean pillow can provide a more comfortable and hygienic sleep environment, leading to better sleep quality and overall health.
  3. Extends pillow lifespan: Regular washing can help to remove dirt and oils that can cause pillows to deteriorate over time, helping them to maintain their shape and support for longer.

By washing your pillows regularly, you can enjoy a cleaner, fresher, and more comfortable sleep environment, eventually leading to a better overall quality of life.

Types of Pillows That Can Be Washed

Not all pillows can be washed at home, but many can! Follow these guidelines to wash your pillows safely:

Pillow Type Washability Special Considerations
Down or feather pillows Yes, but use a gentle cycle and mild detergent. Dry completely to prevent clumping. If the pillow has a tear, it may not be washable.
Synthetic pillows Yes, can usually be washed in a machine on a gentle cycle and tumble-dried on low heat. Refer to care instructions on the pillow tag or packaging.
Buckwheat pillows No, buckwheat hulls can’t be washed. Instead, please remove them and wash the pillowcase. Buckwheat hulls can be dried in the sun or in an oven on low heat.
Memory foam pillows Avoid washing, as it can damage the foam. Spot clean only, or use a pillow protector. Memory foam may take several days to dry completely if it becomes wet.

Always check the label on your pillow before trying to wash it. Contact the manufacturer for guidance if the care label needs to be included or clarified.

Preparing Your Pillow for Washing

Before you begin washing your pillow, there are a few essential steps you need to take to ensure the best results:

Remove Pillowcases and Shams

The first step in preparing your pillow for washing is to remove any pillowcases, shams, or covers. These should be washed separately according to their care instructions.

Check for Damage

Next, carefully inspect your pillow for any damages, such as tears, holes, or loose seams. If you find any damage, it’s best to avoid washing the pillow as this may cause further damage.

Address Stains or Odors

If your pillow has any stains or odors, addressing these before washing is essential. Spot clean the affected areas using a mild detergent and water or a stain remover specifically designed for your pillow material. Rinse thoroughly and allow the pillow to dry completely before washing.

Machine Washing Your Pillow

Washing your pillows in a machine is a straightforward and effective method. Follow these steps to ensure your pillow comes out clean and fresh:

  1. Remove the pillowcase and any other covers from the pillow. Check for any damages or tears that may need repairing before washing.
  2. Place your pillow(s) in the washing machine for balance, ideally two at a time. If you only have one pillow, add some towels or clothes to balance the load.
  3. Set the washing machine to a mild cycle with warm water. Add your preferred laundry detergent according to the instructions on the label.
  4. Run an extra spin cycle to eliminate excess water after washing.

It’s important to note that not all pillows are safe for machine washing. Check the care guidelines on the label to ensure your pillow can be washed in a machine. Pillows that contain foam, latex, or memory foam should not be machine-washed and should be cleaned by hand instead.

Machine Washing Tips:

  • Do not overload the washing machine. A balance in the load will help prevent the device from shaking or causing damage.
  • Do not use hot water, which can damage and shrink the pillow’s filling.
  • Use a mild detergent to avoid marring the pillow fibers or filling. Avoid fabric softener as it can leave a residue that may cause allergies.
  • Avoid using bleach, which can damage the pillow fibers or filling and cause discoloration.
  • Run an extra spin cycle to eliminate excess water before drying.

Handwashing Your Pillow

You can opt for handwashing if you prefer a more delicate approach to cleaning your pillows. This method is especially suitable for down or feather pillows, as machine washing can damage the filling.

To handwash your pillow, you will need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Lukewarm water
  • A bathtub or large basin

Follow these steps to handwash your pillow:

  1. Fill the bathtub or basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle detergent.
  2. Submerge the pillow in the water and mildly agitate it for a few minutes.
  3. Empty the soapy water and refill the tub with clean water to rinse the pillow. Rinse several times until all the soap is gone.
  4. Mildly squeeze out excess water, but do not twist or wring the pillow.
  5. Place the pillow on a clean towel and roll it up to remove as much water as possible.
  6. Unroll the towel and allow the pillow to air-dry completely, flipping it over every few hours to ensure even drying. This can take several days.

Remember that handwashing may not be suitable for all types of pillows, so be sure to check the care instructions before proceeding. Additionally, be gentle when washing and avoid using hot water or harmful detergents, as these can damage the pillow filling or cover.

Drying Your Pillow

Once your pillow has been washed, it’s essential to dry it thoroughly to prevent any mold or mildew growth. There are several ways to effectively dry your pillow, depending on your personal preference and the pillow material.
Air-drying is a natural and safe option, but your pillow may take longer to dry completely. Lay your pillow flat on a clean, dry surface in a well-ventilated room to air-dry it. Allow the pillow to dry entirely on one side before flipping it over to dry the other side.
If you prefer to machine dry your pillow, use the low or no heat setting and add a couple of dryer balls to help fluff up the pillow. Be sure to check the pillow frequently and remove it from the dryer as soon as it dries.
Another option is to sun-dry your pillow, which can help eliminate any lingering odors. Place the pillow on a clean, dry surface in direct sunlight and turn it over periodically to ensure both sides dry evenly.
Whatever method you choose, always ensure your pillow is completely dry before using it again.

Tips for Pillow Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping your pillows clean and fresh enhances the quality of your sleep and extends the lifespan of your pillows. Here are some additional tips and tricks for effectively cleaning and maintaining your pillows:

1. Use a Pillow Cover or Protector

Consider using a pillow cover or protector to prevent sweat, oils, and other debris from getting onto your pillows. These are easy to remove and wash and can help keep your pillows clean between washes.

2. Fluff Your Pillows Regularly.

Fluffing your pillows daily can help maintain their shape and prevent flattening. Give your pillows a good shake and punch to redistribute the filling.

3. Wash Your Pillows Every 6 Months

While washing your pillowcases and covers weekly is essential, pillows must only be cleaned every six months to a year. However, if you have allergies or sweat heavily at night, you may need to wash your pillows more frequently.

4. Spot Clean Stains

If you notice any stains on your pillows, spot-clean them as soon as possible to prevent them from setting in. Use a gentle detergent and a fresh cloth to dab the stain gently, then rinse with water and allow to air dry.

5. Store Your Pillows Properly

Store your pillows in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight when not in use. Please do not keep them in plastic bags or containers, which can block moisture and lead to mold or mildew growth.
Following these tips ensures your pillows stay clean, fresh, and comfortable for years.

How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?

It is essential to wash your pillows regularly to maintain a hygienic sleeping environment. However, the frequency of washing pillows may depend on various factors such as usage, personal hygiene, and allergies. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how often to wash your pillows:

Type of Pillow Washing Frequency
Synthetic pillows Every 6 months
Down pillows Every 6 months
Memory foam pillows Every 3-6 months
Luxury foam pillows Every 6 months

If you have allergies, you may need to wash your pillows more frequently, every 2-3 months, or even more often, as your doctor advises. Additionally, if you sweat excessively while sleeping, you may need to wash your pillows more frequently to prevent sweat and dirt build-up.
Remember that even if your pillows do not have apparent stains or odors, they may still harbor dust mites and allergens that can affect your health and sleep quality.

Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Pillows

Proper care and maintenance can help lengthen the life of your pillows, ensuring they provide comfortable and clean bedding for longer. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a pillow protector or cover: This will keep your pillow clean and protected from dust, sweat, and oils. It also helps protect against stains and allergens.
  2. Fluff your pillows regularly: This will help maintain their shape and prevent the filling from clumping together. A quick fluff every morning can make a big difference.
  3. Wash your pillows regularly: Follow the instructions outlined in this article to wash your pillows regularly and correctly. This will keep them clean and fresh and help extend their lifespan.
  4. Store pillows properly: When not in use, store your pillows in a dry and cool place. Do not store them in plastic bags, which can cause mildew and odors.
  5. Avoid fabric softeners: Fabric softeners can leave residue on your pillows, attracting dirt and bacteria. Instead, use vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften your pillows.
  6. Replace your pillows when needed: Even with proper care and maintenance, pillows will eventually lose their shape and support. Replace them every 1-2 years for optimal comfort and hygiene.

By incorporating these tips into your pillow care routine, you can lengthen the lifespan of your pillows and ensure clean and comfortable bedding for years to come.


In conclusion, washing your pillows is essential to maintaining a clean and comfortable sleep environment. Following the recommended steps for washing and drying your pillows, you can remove dirt, sweat, oils, and allergens and prevent unpleasant odors and stains from accumulating.
Remember to check the care guidelines for your specific type of pillow, as some materials may require special considerations. Additionally, follow the recommended frequency for washing your pillows, which typically ranges from every six months to every two years, depending on usage and personal hygiene habits.
By incorporating regular pillow washing and maintenance into your bedding routine, you can extend the lifespan of your pillows and enjoy a fresh and comfortable sleep every night. Remember also to consider additional tips for pillow care, such as proper storage and fluffing, to enhance the longevity and quality of your bedding.


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