Can You Wash Pillows?

Table Of Contents

You may have heard different forms of the question: "Can you wash pillows?" This can be whether you should wash memory foam pillows or feather pillows. Or you may ask if you can wash pillows in washing machines. This post contains clear answers to these questions. Read on to learn more!

Should You be Washing Your Pillows?

Yes, it is okay if you are washing your pillows. It is not enough to fluff them every day. You need to wash your pillows several times a year.

Signs You Need to Wash Your Pillows

According to experts, you must give your pillows immediate care if you notice specific signs. This includes yellowing and a slightly sour smell or a musty odor.

Frequency of washing pillows and sheets

Ideally, washing your pillows every few months would be best. You may even set a standard for washing your pillows three or four times annually. Pillow covers help to protect your pillows from substances like sweat and body oils.

As such, you must wash your pillow covers, pillowcases, and sheets at least once weekly. Meanwhile, you have good reason to go beyond regular washing of your sheets and pillowcases.

Deep cleaning your pillows and mattresses at least twice a year help clean up accumulated hair, body fluids, and dead skin cells. These are what attract dust mites that, in turn, may cause allergic reactions in humans.

Steps for Washing Your Pillow

Before washing pillows, remember to read the label's cleaning instructions to see if the pillow can be machine washed. After all, some pillows actually need dry cleaning. In addition, different types of pillow fillings, such as down or foam fillings, require different washing methods.

Step One: Air out your pillows

Fluffing out your pillows daily can help to remove dust and restore their shape. You can also choose a bright, breezy day and hang them outside once a month. However, running certain latex foam pillows through your dryer using the no-heat cycle is better.

Step Two: Wash your pillows gently

It is not that difficult to wash your pillow if you give it time to dry. You may even remove wet stains using stain removers or spot-cleaning your pillow and pillow cases before washing them.

Step Three: Fully dry out your pillows

Note that your pillows must dry thoroughly to avoid mildew, dust mites, and bacteria. If you have mild weather, you can simply hang most types of pillows on your clothesline until they are fully dry.

If you are using a clothes dryer, skip the auto-dry setting. Otherwise, the pillow will remain damp on the inside. If you're using a washing machine, add several pillows, use moderate heat, and let them dry for up to an hour.

Throwing in some dry towels can improve the drying speed. Likewise, you can add dryer balls or tennis balls to prevent filling clumping. Ultimately, you must ensure that your drying technique does not leave moisture inside your pillow. After that, you can then make your bed.

Can You Wash Pillows in Washing Machines?

Generally, most types of pillows can be machine washed. This holds true for most cotton, fiberfill, feather, or down pillows. However, using a top-loading machine or a front-loading one with no agitator is preferable.

Before you throw your dirty pillow in the washing machine, always check the pillow's label care instructions and the kind of fill. For instance, it is not advisable to machine wash foam pillows. In contrast, you can safely wash feather, down, cotton, or fiberfill pillows in washing machines.

How to wash pillows in washing machines

The following are steps for washing pillows in washing machines:

Step One: Spot clean with laundry detergents

Use gentle detergents that contain digestants or enzymes to help remove stains.

Step Two: Add pillows to the washing machine

Place the pillows vertically if you use a top-loading machine with an agitator. This helps reduce the chances of damage. Add a gentle detergent and use hot water on the delicate cycle setting.

Step Three: Rinse and dry the pillows

Let the rinse cycle complete. After that, you may spin dry the pillows at least two times. This helps to remove moisture from the pillows altogether. Next, set the pillows to dry on low heat. Throw two clean wool dryer balls or tennis balls to prevent lumps or clumps in the pillow.

Machine Washing for Different Types of Pillows

Here are some tips for washing certain types of pillow fills:

Down or feather pillows

You can use washing machines to wash most down pillows. However, you need to check the pillow's care label. Avoid using high temperatures to prevent damage. Make do with a delicate wash setting, mild detergent, and cool water.

You can wash two feather pillows at the same time. This helps washing machines stay balanced during spin cycles. Use stain removal techniques rather than dry cleaning if you see stains.

Dry cleaning tends to reduce the lifespan of down pillows. Thereafter, you can dry them out on low heat. Feather and down pillows need the no-heat or air-fluff dryer settings to dry them.

Latex or memory foam pillows

You should generally hand wash foam pillows rather than use washing machines. This is because the paddings can break up due to washer agitation. The shredded fill of foam pillows can escape and damage your washer and dryer.

Instead, you can remove dust from the pillow using a vacuum. After that, use a damp cloth and some mild laundry detergent for spot cleaning. A gentle stain remover also works great for tougher stains. Finally, air-dry the pillow.

Polyester pillows

Use warm water on the gentle cycle to wash several polyester fiberfill pillows at a time. This will help to even the load. Do not use too much detergent. A tablespoon of liquid detergent should do the trick.

Buckwheat hulls pillows

Set out a wide bowl or large cookie sheet and empty the buckwheat filling. Exposing the buckwheat to the sun helps remove odors. Then utilize a mixture of cold water and mild detergent to wash the shell casing.

Synthetic fiber pillows

Synthetic fiber pillows can be machine-washed and dried.

Down alternative pillows

These pillows can also be machine-washed and dried.

Steps for Deep-Cleaning Pillows

Here are some steps to take for deeper cleaning of your pillows:

  • First, remove pillowcases and pillow covers.
  • Mix lukewarm water and one tablespoon of detergent in a bathtub or sink.
  • Let the depth be enough to submerge the pillow fully.
  • Gently massage the submerged pillow with the solution circulating through it.
  • Remove the pillow from the sink or bathtub and squeeze to remove soapy water. You may squeeze several times.
  • Rinse the pillow thoroughly with clean water and gently squeeze until the water runs clear.
  • Get two bath towels and place the pillow between them. Then squeeze some more.
  • You may now place the pillow out in the sun to air-dry.

How Long Does It Take to Clean Bed Pillows?

If the stains are not too harsh, spot cleaning and drying your pillow takes no more than 30 minutes. However, tougher stains may need an overnight soak. A single wash cycle should be enough to wash a foam pillow cover. If you want to wash down alternative pillows in your washer and dryer, expect it to take a few hours.

How Often Should You Spot Clean Pillows?

Spot cleaning can help treat minor stains in between major cleanings. You can spot clean pillows as often as necessary.

Choosing Good Laundry Detergents

If you're washing pillows, using a fragrance-free soap is preferable. There are excellent natural laundry detergents, or you can make your own recipe. For instance, you can mix one cup each of borax, baking soda, and washing soda with two cups of soap flakes. However, always check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions and detergent suggestions for washing pillows.

Uses of Pillow Protectors

One way to increase your pillow's lifespan is to pair them with pillow protectors. Pillow protectors help maintain the quality of pillows and protect them from dust and sweat.

Moreover, removable pillow protectors can help extend the time between complete pillow cleaning. You can wash pillow protectors once a month. Simply remove them and machine-wash them in hot water.

When Should You Replace Pillows?

While certain types of pillows can stay longer, you should replace pillows every year and a half or two years at the maximum. This is because, with daily use, pillows tend to contain a build-up of dead skin cells, hair, and bacteria. The fold test is one way to test the need for pillow replacement.

The tendency is that your pillow is in good shape if it bounces back flat after you fold it in half. However, if the pillow remains folded, you likely need to replace it. Another indication that you should replace your pillows is if the pillow contains a lot of bumps and lumps.

Tips to Keep Pillows Clean

The following cleaning tips can help you keep your pillows hygienic and fresh:

  • Putting pillows in the dryer every few months helps remove accumulated dust. Add a washcloth dampened with vinegar to kill off mold and mildew.
  • Freshen your pillows between deep cleanings by running them through washing machines. Use a half cup of white vinegar on a warm water cycle.
  • Do not stuff in too many pillows at a time.
  • You can sprinkle foam pillows with cornstarch, leave them to dry for an hour or more, and then vacuum both sides.
  • Spot-cleaning pillow covers is the proper way to clean foam pillows without removing the fill.
  • Soap, dirt, and high heat can damage a pillow's stuffing. This is even more so for down alternative stuffing.
  • Use a gentler setting for washing your pillows in machines than for regular laundry.
  • You can tumble dry down and feather pillows on low heat, but use a delicate setting.
  • Having extra clean bed pillows can be worthwhile as drying can last some hours.

Cleaning Companies Can Help With Pillow Washing

After going through this guide on washing pillows, you may be more confident that you can indeed wash pillows. However, you may still need specialized pillow cleaning services. For instance, you can invite an expert cleaning company to wash off stubborn stains from your pillows.

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