How to Wash Pillows: A Brief Guide for Every Pillow Type

Pillows play a crucial role in ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep. However, over time, they accumulate dust, sweat, and allergens, making it essential to know how to properly clean them. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of washing pillows, catering to various pillow types. From fluffy down pillows to memory foam and everything in between, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of pillow hygiene.

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How to Wash Pillows

Pillows are a fundamental component of a good night’s sleep, offering support and comfort. However, over time, they collect dust, sweat, body oils, and allergens, potentially impacting your sleep quality and health. Learning how to wash pillows properly is essential to extend their lifespan and maintain hygiene. In this detailed guide, we will delve into the specific steps for cleaning various pillow types.

Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin, gather the following materials:

  • Mild Detergent: Opt for a gentle, hypoallergenic detergent.
  • Stain Remover: Keep a stain remover on hand for any stubborn stains.
  • Washing Machine: Ensure your washing machine is clean and free from residue.
  • Dryer: You’ll need a dryer with a low heat setting.
  • Tennis Balls or Dryer Balls: These will help fluff the pillows during drying.
  • Pillow Protector Covers (Optional): Pillow protectors are highly recommended as they can prevent stains and extend the life of your pillows.

Identifying Your Pillow Type

Pillows come in various materials, and each type requires different care. Here’s how to identify your pillow type:

  1. Down Pillows: These pillows are filled with soft, fluffy feathers. They provide excellent comfort but require special care due to their delicate nature.
  2. Memory Foam Pillows: Memory foam pillows conform to your head and neck for exceptional support. Cleaning them correctly is vital to preserving their shape.
  3. Synthetic Pillows: These pillows are usually machine washable and easy to maintain.
  4. Latex Pillows: Latex pillows are hypoallergenic and highly durable but have specific cleaning requirements.

Now, let’s explore the detailed steps for cleaning each type of pillow.

Washing Machine-Friendly Pillows

Steps for Washing Machine-Friendly Pillows

  1. Remove the Pillow Protector (If Applicable): If your pillow has a protector cover, remove it and wash it separately following the care instructions.
  2. Check for Stains: Examine the pillow for any stains. If you find stains, apply a stain remover directly to the affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Load the Washing Machine: Place two pillows in the washing machine to ensure a balanced load. An unbalanced load can cause the machine to shake excessively.
  4. Use a Mild Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent to the machine. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the pillow’s fibres.
  5. Choose a Gentle Cycle: Select a gentle cycle with cold water. The gentle cycle prevents the pillows from losing their shape during washing.
  6. Double Rinse: After the washing cycle is complete, run an additional rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is thoroughly removed.
  7. Dry Thoroughly: Place the pillows in the dryer along with tennis balls or dryer balls. The balls help to fluff the pillows and prevent clumping.

Hand-Wash Only Pillows

Steps for Hand-Wash Only Pillows

  1. Fill a Basin with Lukewarm Water: Begin by filling a basin or large sink with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of mild detergent and mix it until it forms a soapy solution.
  2. Submerge the Pillow: Gently submerge the pillow in the soapy water, making sure it is fully saturated. Gently agitate the pillow by pressing it down and releasing it.
  3. Rinse Thoroughly: After agitating, rinse the pillow with clean water until all traces of detergent are gone. This may require several rinses.
  4. Remove Excess Water: Squeeze out excess water from the pillow without wringing or twisting it, as this can damage the filling.
  5. Air Dry: Lay the pillow flat on a clean towel and allow it to air dry completely. Ensure it is positioned in a well-ventilated area.

Drying Your Pillows

Drying your pillows correctly is crucial to prevent mould and mildew growth. Here’s what to do:

  • Place the pillows in a well-ventilated area or use a dryer with a low heat setting. Avoid high heat, as it can damage certain pillow fillings.
  • Periodically check the pillows to ensure they are drying evenly. Fluff them up during the drying process to maintain their shape.

Tips for Maintaining Pillow Freshness

To keep your pillows fresh and comfortable for a longer period:

  • Use pillow protector covers to shield pillows from dust, stains, and allergens. These covers are easily removable and washable.
  • Rotate and fluff your pillows regularly to prevent them from becoming flat and lumpy.
  • Consider exposing your pillows to sunlight periodically. Sunlight can help kill bacteria and freshen the pillows. However, avoid direct sunlight for extended periods to prevent damage.
  • Finally, consider replacing your pillows every 1-2 years for optimal comfort and hygiene.


Now that you are well-versed in the art of pillow cleaning, you can enjoy a cleaner and more comfortable night’s sleep. Regular pillow maintenance is essential not only for your comfort but also for your overall health. Don’t overlook this simple yet crucial task.

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1. How often should I wash my pillows? Ideally, you should wash your pillows every 6 months. However, always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for your specific pillow.

2. Can I use regular detergent on memory foam pillows? No, it’s best to use a mild detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics. Harsh detergents can damage memory foam.

3. Is it necessary to use tennis balls in the dryer when drying pillows? While not mandatory, using tennis balls or dryer balls can help fluff the pillows and prevent clumping, ensuring an even and thorough drying process.

4. Can I dry my pillows in the sun? Yes, sunlight can naturally freshen and disinfect pillows. However, avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, as it may cause damage.

5. When should I replace my pillows? Consider replacing your pillows every 1-2 years, as over time, they can lose their support and collect allergens that affect your sleep quality.

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