How To Properly Wash Your Pillow

How to Properly Wash Your Pillow

You wash your dishes regularly, your clothes, and (hopefully) your sheets, but when is the last time you washed your pillow? Not the case or cover, but the actual pillow itself? Did you even know you could? Most people think that if you wash a pillow, you’ll ruin it, but that’s simply not the case. Most pillows are designed to washed either in the washing machine or by hand. According to experts you should wash your pillow every three months.

Dirt, oil and dead skin cells get trapped there, which may lead to acne. Dust mites, which belong to the spider family, also like to hang out in the crevices of your pillow. “You can’t see them, but they’re concentrated in things like bedding and carpeting,” says Mark R. Neustrom, DO, of Kansas City Allergy and Asthma Associates.

Certain kinds of pillows require specific methods for washing them, which we’ll cover below. (Remember: always read your pillow’s care label and follow the directions accordingly!)

Down and Fiberfill Pillows

Luckily these can easily be cleaned using your washing machine! Both front & top-loading machines will work, but if you’re using a top-loading machine that has an agitator, make sure to insert the pillow(s) vertically so there’s less chance of them getting wrapped around and/or damaged by the agitator. Washing 2 pillows at one time is also better, as doing so will balance the load.

Wash pillows with a small amount of mild powder or liquid detergent or a product designed to launder down, on warm and delicate. A liquid detergent that is not completely rinsed out will leave sticky residue, and this can result in clumping. However, adding an extra rinse on cold will help remove the detergent residue. Once washed, tumble dry on low heat or air-dry, fluffing and turning them often. To help keep pillows plump, toss in a few dryer balls if you have them. Because pillows take longer to dry than a normal load of clothes, musty smells may arise. In that case, set pillows in the sun for a few hours to get rid of the odors.

Note: Always make sure the pillows are completely dry before putting them back on your bed – any lingering dampness can breed mildew!

Memory Foam or Latex Pillows

Unfortunately, neither of these types of pillows can be machine washed as the agitation can cause the foam to break apart, ruining the pillow. However you can still clean them if you follow these directions:

  1. Fill up a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and a small amount of gentle detergent.
  2. Slowly submerge your pillow under the soapy water. Gently squeeze it to allow the soapy water to penetrate beneath the surface. Repeat twice.
  3. Drain soapy water and refill with clean water. Squeeze pillow several times, allowing the clean water to wash away any remaining dirt or soap until the water runs clear.
  4. Gently squeeze your pillow to remove excess water, but don’t twist or rigorously squeeze the foam.
  5. Leave to air dry, preferably in direct sunlight or outdoors. If neither are available, leave your memory foam pillow under a ceiling fan.
  6. For a little bonus, try sprinkling your pillow with a drop of lavender or your favorite scented oil if desired.


Just like with down and fiber fill pillows, you can also machine wash polyester pillows. Wash with warm water on the gentle cycle, preferably a couple at a time to balance the load. Be sparing with the detergent – use about 1 tablespoon of liquid soap. Tumble dry using low heat, fluffing and turning pillows often.

Buckwheat hulls

Empty the buckwheat filling onto a large cookie sheet or wide, shallow bowl. Set the buckwheat out in the sun, which will eliminate odors, and wash the shell casing using cold water and a mild detergent.

Most pillows can be dried for at least an hour on moderate heat. Adding a couple of dry towels will speed things up. Toss in two fresh tennis balls or dryer balls, as well, and they’ll keep the filling from clumping as they bounce around the drum.

After some time, simply washing and cleaning your pillows will no longer be enough to keep them in shape, and you should replace your pillows with new ones. Factory Mattress carries an array of pillows designed for optimal comfort and support while you sleep – shop for new pillows today!


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