Why Washing Pillows Should be a Spring Cleaning Tradition

Posted by Nadine Tesolin on

Many people put their bedding in the wash on a regular basis to keep their sleeping environment clean and comfortable. But while our sheets, blankets, and pillowcases are getting cleaned, pillows are often ignored. Regularly cleaning pillows is very important, as it will help get rid of any dust mites, dander and other household allergens that may irritate your skin and sinuses. Here, we’ll share some great tips on washing down, fiberfill, and memory foam or gel pillows. Learn how to wash your pillows and get a better night’s sleep in no time.

Person Making Bed after Cleaning Pillows

Washing Fiberfill Pillows

Fiberfill pillows are fairly low-maintenance and easy to clean. Toss these babies into your washer two at a time with warm water and a gentle cycle to start. To really ensure your pillows get the full cleaning they deserve, add on an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle at the end. If you have an agitator-style, top loading washer (the kind with the spindle in the middle of the machine), we suggest placing your pillows in vertically to avoid getting wrapped around the agitator and damaged.

After you’re done with the washer, tumble dry your pillows on low heat. Take them out and fluff them up a few times during the dry cycle or toss in a few rubber balls during the cycle to help keep them fluffy. Below are the outlined steps of how to wash fiberfill/polyester pillows in the washer:

  1. Throw no more than 2 pillows in the washer at a time.
  2. Wash them on a gentle cycle.
  3. Add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle.
  4. For top-loading washers, insert your pillows vertically.
  5. Tumble dry on low heat. Stop and fluff them a few times during the drying cycle.
  6. Use clean tennis balls or dryer balls to keep the filling from clumping.

Washing Down or Feather Pillows

As long as there aren’t any openings in your pillow cover, feather and down pillows are safe to throw in the washer, too! Wash these pillows two at a time and only use a small amount of detergent. These are a little more fragile than their fiberfill counterparts, so set your washer on the delicate cycle and rinse them a second time after the first cycle. To dry your pillows while maintaining their fluffiness, put them in the dryer with some clean tennis balls. It’s a good idea to take the pillows out a few times during the dry cycle and fluff them up by hand so you don’t end up with any lumps.

Don’t worry if they’re not dry after one cycle because they usually take longer to fully dry than a load of clothes. If they come out with a musty smell at the end, that doesn’t mean they aren’t clean. Just set them in the sun for a couple hours until the feathers have dried completely. Below are the washing steps for down and feather pillows:

  1. Throw no more than 2 pillows in the washer at a time and use only a small amount of detergent.
  2. Wash on the delicate cycle.
  3. Rinse a second time.
  4. Tumble dry on low with tennis balls or dryer balls. Take the pillows out a few times to fluff them while drying.
  5. If they are still damp, set them in the sun for a few hours to air dry.

Person Fluffing Freshly Washed Pillows

Washing Gel, Water-Based, and Memory Foam Pillows

If you have any type of gel or memory foam pillows, you might already know that you shouldn’t put these pillows in the washing machine. But, there are a few different ways you can clean these pillows without damaging them. Some come with removable covers, which you can remove and wash according to the care instructions on the tag. Since you can’t stick foam pillows in the washer, remove dust by vacuuming both sides with the upholstery nozzle on your vacuum and lower the suction pressure as much as possible.

You can also put your foam pillow straight into the dryer and set it on a heat-free dry cycle for about 20 minutes. If you need to use soap, spot clean your foam pillows with a soapy cloth and allow them to air dry.  No matter how you choose to wash your pillow, make sure to be gentle because getting foam wet can make it much more fragile. Here are the steps to washing gel and memory foam pillows:

  1. Wash the removable covers in the washer (foam pillows can’t be machine washed)
  2. Remove dust by gently vacuuming the pillows with an upholstery nozzle and low pressure.
  3. Put the pillows in the dryer on a heat-free cycle for about 20 minutes.
  4. Spot clean foam pillows with a soapy cloth.

Spring is a season of new beginnings and a great time to clean your home. Don’t forget to include washing pillows in your spring cleaning routine to limit bacterial growth and extend the life of your pillow!



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