How to Wash Pillows the Right Way

How to Wash Pillows the Right Way


Keeping pillows clean is an essential part of bed hygiene. A buildup of sweat, body oils, and dust mites in pillows can lead to allergies and other health issues. Washing pillows regularly every 6 months is key to ensuring your pillows stay fresh, allergen-free, and in top condition.

This comprehensive guide will teach you the right techniques for washing all types of pillows using a washing machine, by hand, and other methods. You'll also learn common pillow washing mistakes to avoid along with tips for proper daily pillow care and maintenance.

What You'll Learn

This guide covers everything you need to know about washing pillows correctly, including:

  • When to wash pillows
  • Preparing pillows for the wash
  • Washing machine method
  • Drying pillows
  • Other washing methods
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • Daily pillow care

Armed with these pillow washing tips, you'll be able to keep your pillows clean and hygienic for better sleep and health. So let's get started!

Why It's Important

Washing pillows regularly every 6 months is critical for the following reasons:

  • Removes buildup of dust mites, their droppings and allergens.
  • Eliminates body oils, sweat, dead skin cells that can discolor and degrade pillows.
  • Cleaning pillows helps freshen and disinfect them.
  • Extends the life span of pillows.
  • Provides allergy relief and prevents respiratory issues.
  • Improves your sleep comfort, quality and health.

So make sure to wash your bed pillows and other pillows used around the house frequently as part of your cleaning routine. It makes a big difference!

Overview of Washing Methods

There are several good options for washing pillows depending on the pillow material:

  • Washing machine - For machine washable polyester, cotton or microfiber pillows.
  • Handwashing - For delicate materials like silk, wool, or feather pillows.
  • Spot cleaning - For minor stains on all types of pillows.
  • Dry cleaning - For pillows not suitable for water washing.

This guide provides best practices for all of these techniques. Read on to learn how to clean your pillows thoroughly and safely. And be sure to check out the great selection of affordable, comfortable pillows at Mattress To Door!

When to Wash Pillows

When to Wash Pillows

Washing your pillows regularly is the key to keeping them fresh and hygienic. Here are the recommended timeframes for washing different types of pillows:

  • Bed pillows - Every 6 months
  • Throw pillows - Every 2-3 months
  • Decorative pillows - Twice a year
  • Outdoor pillows - Monthly during warm weather

You should also wash your pillows in these situations:

  • When they have visible stains or soiling
  • After recovering from an illness to remove germs
  • Before first use for brand new pillows

Washing twice a year is generally ideal for bed pillows and those used daily. This removes the accumulation of sweat, body oils, and dust mites that gather in pillows over time.

Here are some signs it's definitely time to clean your pillows:

  • You are waking up with allergies or congestion
  • Pillows have a musty or dirty smell
  • Pillows feel lumpy or uneven
  • Cases have noticeable yellowish stains

When you notice these issues, it's time to freshen up those pillows!

Preparing Pillows for Washing

Preparing Pillows for Washing

Proper preparation before washing is important to clean pillows safely and effectively. Follow these tips:

  • Check care instructions - Refer to the label or tag to understand washing requirements and if machine washing is allowed.
  • Remove pillow protectors - Zip off any pillow protectors or encasements and wash separately.
  • Inspect for damage - Look for rips, holes, or tears and repair if needed so filling doesn't escape.
  • Vacuum - Use a handheld vacuum on pillows to remove loose dirt, dust mites, and debris.
  • Pre-treat stains - Rub a stain remover stick or hydrogen peroxide on stained areas to help lift stains.
  • Close zippers - Fully close any zippers on pillow covers or sham covers.

Proper preparation makes the washing process easier and helps keep pillows intact during cleaning.

Washing Machine Method

Washing Machine Method

For machine-washable pillows, washing them in the washing machine is quick and effective. Here is the process:

Supplies Needed

  • 2 pillows for balance
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Tennis balls or dryer balls
  • Mesh wash bag (optional)

Step-By-Step Process

  1. Set your machine to a gentle or delicate cycle using cold or warm water, depending on the care instructions.
  2. Add a mild, hypoallergenic liquid detergent. Avoid detergents with strong fragrances or additives.
  3. Place tennis balls or dryer balls into the machine drum to help fluff and add shape retention during the wash cycle.
  4. Put your pillows into the washing machine drum. For balance, wash two at a time. You can use a mesh wash bag for extra protection.
  5. Start the wash cycle. Use the gentle cycle and cold or warm water based on the care instructions.
  6. After washing, run an extra rinse cycle to fully eliminate detergent residue. Detergent left in pillows can cause skin irritation.
  7. Once finished, promptly remove pillows and dry. Avoid leaving wet pillows in the washer which can lead to mold growth.

Be sure to wash pillow protectors and pillowcases separately to avoid getting them tangled or bunched up on the pillow insert during washing.

Using this process will safely get your pillows clean while retaining their comfort and support. The pillows at Mattress To Door are designed for machine washing convenience.

Drying Pillows

Drying Pillows

Proper drying is a critical step after washing pillows to ensure they retain their shape, comfort and fight against dust mites. Here are tips for drying pillows correctly:

  • Air dry - Lay pillows flat or hang to air dry outside. Sunlight naturally disinfects and freshens.
  • Low heat drying - Use the no heat or low heat setting if machine drying pillows. High heat can damage or misshape pillows.
  • Dryer balls - Add a few dryer balls to the machine to help pillows regain their fluff. Wool or plastic balls work great.
  • Repeat drying - Pillows contain a lot of moisture. Put through a complete drying cycle and repeat to fully dry if needed.
  • Fluff by hand - Once pillows are dried, fluff and reshape them by hand. Pounding with fists helps too.
  • Check for dampness - Ensure no damp spots deep inside before use. Lay pillows flat to air out longer if needed. Wet spots can breed mold.

Take the time to fully dry pillows after washing. It makes a big difference in keeping your pillows fresh and comfortable for better sleep!

Other Washing Methods

Not all pillows can be washed in the machine. Here are some other cleaning methods:

Spot Cleaning

Use for small stains on all types of pillows:

  • Mix warm water and mild soap in a spray bottle. Or use an upholstery cleaner.
  • Lightly spray the stain.
  • Gently blot the stain with a clean cloth, working from the edge inward.
  • Rinse the spot with clean water and blot dry.
  • Allow to fully air dry.


Great for delicate materials like silk, wool, or feather pillows:

  • Fill a bathtub with cool water and mild detergent.
  • Immerse and gently wash pillows by hand.
  • Drain dirty water and refill tub to rinse pillows thoroughly.
  • Roll pillows in towels to absorb excess water.
  • Lay flat on towels and reshape to air dry.

Dry Cleaning

For pillows labeled dry clean only:

  • Take pillows to a professional dry cleaner.
  • Ask for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free process.
  • Remove pillow protectors first and wash separately.
  • Air dry thoroughly before use.

Use the best cleaning method for your pillow type for optimal results.

Mistakes to Avoid

While washing pillows, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Using hot water - This can shrink or damage pillows.
  • Overloading the washer - Crowding can prevent proper cleaning.
  • Harsh detergents - Look for mild, hypoallergenic formulas.
  • No extra rinse cycle - Detergent residues irritate skin and allergies.
  • Forgetting tennis balls - These help restore fluffiness.
  • Machine drying on high heat - Use no heat or low heat only.
  • Leaving pillows damp - This allows mold and mildew to grow.
  • No air drying - The sun naturally disinfects and deodorizes.
  • Skipping vacuuming - Remove dust and allergens before washing.

Avoiding these mistakes helps ensure pillows get thoroughly clean and stay in great condition. Follow the proper techniques for best results!

For affordable, comfortable pillows specially designed for machine washing, check out the options at Mattress To Door. We make pillow care easy!

Proper Pillow Care

Washing your pillows regularly is important, but daily care and maintenance helps keep them clean between washes. Here are some tips:

  • Use pillow protectors - Encase pillows in a zippered protector to shield from body oils, sweat and soiling. Wash protectors routinely.
  • Flip and fluff - Fluff and reshape pillows in the morning and before bedtime. Flip or rotate pillows weekly to evenly distribute wear and buildup.
  • Spot clean - Use upholstery cleaner to spot treat stains as soon as they happen to prevent setting in.
  • Air out - Occasionally leave pillows out in sunlight to naturally freshen and disinfect.
  • Keep clean cases - Use fresh pillowcases at least once a week or whenever dirty. Wash bedding in hot water regularly.
  • Replace regularly - Plan to replace pillows every 1-2 years for best comfort and support.
  • Store properly - When not in use, store pillows in a cool, dry place in breathable casing.
  • Vacuum - Use handheld vacuum attachment to remove dust and allergens from pillow surface monthly.

Proper daily pillow care extends the longevity between deeper cleanings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash foam or memory foam pillows?

It's best to wash foam and memory foam pillows every 6 months. Washing them this often will help remove body oils, sweat and dust mite allergens that accumulate over time.

What is the best way to wash down or feather pillows?

Use a gentle wash cycle and mild detergent to handwash down or feather pillows. Avoid agitation, wringing or squeezing them which can damage the filling. Rinse well with cool water. Air dry thoroughly before use.

Should you wash pillows with or without the cover?

It's best to remove the pillow cover and wash it separately from the inner pillow. This prevents tangling or bunching of the cover around the pillow during washing. Zip off removable covers first.

How do you keep pillows fluffy after washing them?

Add a few tennis balls or dryer balls to the wash and drying cycles. These help restore fluff and shape during cleaning. Also fluff and reshape pillows manually after air drying.

Can you wash pillows in the washing machine?

If the care label states machine washable, it's perfectly fine to wash pillows in the washing machine. Use a delicate cycle and mild detergent. Wash 2 at a time for balance.

Does rinsing pillows thoroughly matter?

Yes, it's very important to rinse away all detergent residue after washing pillows. An extra rinse cycle helps. Leftover detergent can irritate skin and worsen allergies.

How can you keep pillows fresh between washes?

Use pillow protectors, wash pillowcases frequently, spot clean stains quickly, air pillows out in sunlight occasionally, and vacuum pillows monthly to maintain freshness.


Washing pillows regularly is essential for keeping them fresh, allergy-free and promoting better sleep. By following the proper techniques for your pillow type, you can easily keep pillows clean and hygienic.

The key tips to remember are:

  • Wash pillows every 6 months as well as when soiled
  • Check care instructions and pre-treat stains before washing
  • Use mild detergent and the gentle, delicate cycle
  • Wash two pillows at once for balance
  • Add tennis balls to the wash for fluffing
  • Rinse with an extra cycle to remove detergent
  • Dry thoroughly on low heat and repeat as needed
  • Fluff pillows after washing and allow to fully air dry
  • Use pillow protectors and clean cases
  • Spot clean pillows when needed between washes

By washing and caring for your pillows properly, you can help them last longer and keep their shape, comfort and support. Sweet dreams!

For a wide selection of comfortable, affordable pillows designed for easy machine washing, check out Mattress To Door. We want to make pillow care simple for our customers.

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