How to Wash Your Pillows? Tips to Clean Your Pillows

Pillows are next in line only to bed sheets in the amount of body fluids they are exposed to including, sweat and body oils. Given the nature of these substances, it is pretty obvious that they need to be cleaned regularly and not ignored.

Tips to Wash Your Pillows

Apart from this, there are factors like dust, humidity, and mites, insects etc. which can cause pillows to become sources of infection. Hence, they need to be cleaned at least once every six months, and maybe even more often if you live in a hot and humid climate.

Here are a few tips on how to wash your pillows:

Read The Care Tag Carefully:

This should always be the first step to follow. While most pillows can be cleaned using a standardized process, it’s always good to know beforehand if your pillow contains special materials that need extra care. The manufacturers know best what cleaning techniques need to be followed for their product, and the life of the product is significantly affected if they are not followed. Some types of pillows are washable and some are not- example foam pillows.

Keep It gentle:

Unless the care tag states otherwise, it is always a good idea to subject your pillows to a minimal amount of washing. This means that the washing machine should be set to a gentle wash with warm water to ensure proper cleaning without damaging the pillow irreparably.

It is also advised to add a cold water rinse after the washing is done to get rid of any residual oils or detergent that may remain.

Symmetric Washing Is Key:

Since pillows tend to weigh a lot after absorbing water, it is better to wash two pillows together by keeping them opposite each other in the washer. If only one pillow is put in or both pillows are clumped together, it puts considerable strain on the rotor due to the weight being improperly distributed. This might affect the life of your washing machine.

Use Liquid Detergent:

While washing pillows, it is always best to use liquid detergent rather than powder. This is because powder contains certain impurities which permeate into the pillow and stay there. They are not removed even after rinsing repeatedly. These particulates get entangled in the fibers and can cause clumping which ends up making the pillow uncomfortable.

An added benefit is that liquid permeates throughout the entire pillow cleaning up the pillow from within and killing the germs and removing harmful build ups throughout, which ends up increasing the life of the pillow.

Also while drying them, it is important to lay them flat on a surface which enables the free flow of air even from the bottom to ensure uniform drying throughout and also maintain the shape of the pillow.

Prevent Formation of Clumps:

It should be kept in mind that irrespective of the quality of the pillow if proper precautions are not taken, there is a high possibility of the formation of lumps within pillows during the drying phase. To prevent this, care should be taken to dry washable pillows using only low-speed tumble drying and desist from using warm settings in the dryer.

Also, while drying pillows, it is better to fold them up along their length to form a pool noodle like shape, and then tie rubber bands on the ends and middle. This keeps the fibers in the center, which are most prone to clump formation, elongated and free from entanglement.

Along with this, it is necessary to periodically stop the dryer and fluff up the pillows so that air is properly circulated even to the deeper parts of the pillow. This not only ensures uniform drying of pillows but also prevents fibers from sticking together and becoming densely entangled during the drying process, thereby preventing the formation of clumps.

Use Vacuum Cleaners Periodically:

While you don’t need to wash pillows more than once in six months, it is definitely beneficial to vacuum them regularly- especially if you are allergic to dust. Just removing the cover and cleaning them once a couple of weeks and running the vacuum on the pillow can help get rid of superficial dust before it settles inside the pillow and makes later cleaning very easy as well. Needless to say, your pillows will remain usable for a much longer time this way.

Using the upholstery tool on your vacuum and running it on low suction speed is most effective for this purpose.

Use Driers For Foam Pillows:

Foam pillows, unfortunately, cannot be washed. This makes cleaning them a huge chore. But this work can be simplified by putting them in a drier with the ‘air only’ or ‘no heat ‘mode on for about 20 minutes to clean them of dust particles, kill microbes and mites and also dry up sweat, moisture etc.

It is also beneficial to place a couple of clean tennis balls in the dryer along with the pillows. These balls strike the pillows at high speeds, removing dust from within and preventing clumping at the same time.

This also performs the added job of giving a fresh look and feel to the pillows since they get aerated.

Clean Foam Pillows on Surface:

Firstly, it is a given that every pillow needs to be covered with a pillow cover to avoid surface stains caused by various reasons. However, sometimes it does happen that we end up spilling things onto pillows which may deface them or, at the very least, soil them.

In such cases, it is advised to identify the specific location and the type of stain involved. If the stain is caused due to oil or dyes, then apply talcum powder on the spot and leave it for a day or so. The talcum powder absorbs the excess oils and dyes to a large extent and reduces the chance of it spreading further. Once this is done, the smear or spot should be sprayed with a small amount of water, preferably a mist to make it slightly moist.

Then, using a cloth dipped in liquid detergent, the area should be cleaned by dabbing gently. Rubbing the stain might cause further spreading of the substance. After this, the pillow can be put in the dryer or exposed to sunlight to dry off and eliminate the odor, if any.


Essentially, cleaning pillows the proper way is essential not only for maintaining proper hygiene but also for lasting comfort and long life of your pillows, which might otherwise cause discomfort while sleeping. It is not feasible to replace an expensive pair of pillows every year or so, hence it’s better to make them last as long as they can while providing you the comfort they are supposed to.

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