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How To Wash Pillows – A Complete Step By Step Guide

How To Wash Pillows – A Complete Step By Step Guide

Most people are meticulous when cleaning their sheets, comforters, and pillowcases. However, that's not the case when cleaning pillows because they assume that pillowcases protect pillows from dirt. Knowing how to wash pillows correctly guarantees a clean, healthy, and comfortable bed.

The cleaning technique for pillows depends on their materials and the manufacturer's instructions. Clean your cotton, feather, down, or fiberfill pillows with a washing machine using warm water. You can also hand wash your pillows at home following the label's cleaning instructions. 

Pillows can house a lot of dirt, dust mites, bugs, dead skin, sweat, and oil. They need a professional approach and attention when cleaning. This article will provide you with an extensive guide on how to wash pillows and everything relevant when cleaning your pillows.

wash pillows bedroomCan You Wash Pillows? The Stepwise Process

Washing pillows is not as challenging as you may think. However, there are some specific steps to follow to ensure proper cleaning. You can clean your pillows by hand or with a washing machine. Washing pillows by hand prevents them from becoming lumpy, a common issue with most washing machines. Below are steps to help hand clean your pillows.

Step 1: Check the Label

The first thing you should do is check the label to determine whether you can hand wash the pillow or not. If the pillow label does not have a "dry clean only" label, proceed to wash it by hand.

Step 2: Preparation

Once you have confirmed that you can hand clean the pillow, the next step is to prepare for the wash. Below are some things you should do to prepare;

  • Fill a sink or bathtub with hot water. Ensure that the sink or tub is big enough to hold the pillow. Hot water is recommended to kill dust mites and other microbes living inside the pillow.
  • Stir in a gentle standard laundry detergent. One tablespoon of detergent should be enough for each pillow.
  • Take the pillows out of the pillowcases or protectors. You can wash the cases and protectors separately.
  • Get a pair of gloves.

Step 3: Submerge Your Pillows in the Water 

Now that the cleaning water and pillows are ready, you can begin the washing. Start by submerging the pillows in hot water with detergent. Ensure to press the pillow down properly to ensure it absorbs the water. Use your hands to massage and squeeze the pillow for several minutes.

Step 4: Rinse The Pillow Under Running Water

Once the pillow is clean, take it out of the soapy water and squeeze it. From there, hold it under running water and continue squeezing. Keep doing this until the water runs clear.

Step 5: Dry the Pillow

It's now time to dry the pillow. Start by pressing out the excess water with a dry towel. Avoid twisting the pillow because you may damage its feathers. After drying your pillow with a dry towel, you can either hang it on a clothesline to air dry or place it in a dryer. Again, check the label before placing it in a dryer.

How to Wash Pillows in a Washing Machine

Some pillows cannot be hand washed. For instance, most feather and down-filled pillows can be washed and dried in the washing machine. Check the label to ensure that the pillows are machine-wash-friendly. Below is the procedure for washing pillows in the washing machine.

Step 1: Remove the Cover

The first step is to remove the pillow from its cover. After doing this, check for any tears or damage. Ensure the pillow has no tears or wear, so the fillings do not drop inside the washing machine. Also, check for any stains on the pillow. If you discover any stain, apply a stain remover to the particular area.

Step 2: Set the Washing Machine

The next step is setting the washing cycle and water temperature. Also, add detergents to the washing machine. We recommend that you use detergents according to the manufacturers' instructions.

Step 3: Wash the Pillows

Finally, use the gentle cycle to wash the pillows. Place the pillow vertically into the machine to protect them from getting damaged, especially if you use a top-loading machine with an agitator. It would be wise if you decide to wash two pillows in the machine.

The purpose is to balance the load of the washing machine. However, if your washing machine is small, one pillow would be okay. Use extra rinse so that no detergent residue is left in the washing machine.

Use cool water and a gentle detergent for pillows with down or feather fillings. On the other hand, use warm water and a gentle cycle for pillows with polyester fillings.

Step 4: Dry the Pillows

After the washing cycle is complete, it is time for drying. You can either use a dryer or air-dry. Finally, check whether there is any dampness in the pillow and repeat the drying process if necessary.

How to Wash Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are decorative pieces. They are almost as popular as bed pillows. However, many people wonder how to wash them because of their differences from conventional pillows. Washing a decorative pillow is not different from cleaning a normal pillow. Here's what you need to know.

  • You can machine wash the pillows in a delicate cycle and warm water using a gentle detergent.
  • Make sure to read the label on the throw pillow for instructions.
  • Pay special attention to the pillow's special fabrics like leather, suede, silk, or wool.

How to Wash Pillows FAQs

Can You Wash All Pillows by Hand?

Not all pillows require hand washing. For instance, memory foam or latex foam pillows are only designed for dry cleaning. This means that you will only be able to spot clean them with a machine. Therefore, experts recommend using zippered pillow protectors on top of pillowcases to extend their life.

How Do You Wash a Pillow With Odors, Yellowing, and Mildew?

The standard cleaning process will not do the trick if your pillow has odors, yellowing, or mildew. Below are some tips that will help you wash such a pillow.

  1. Add baking soda to the cleaning water if the pillow has an odor. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and great for removing smells.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil to the rinsing water for the pillow for a pleasant scent to cover up unwanted odors.
  3. Soak the pillow in a mixture of peroxide and vinegar for around thirty minutes before washing to remove stains and mildew.
  4. Hang the pillow in the sun for a few hours to remove the bad smells.

cleaning pillowsHow Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?

According to experts, you should clean your pillows two to three times per year. However, this should depend on the following factors;

  1. Your regional climate. If you live in hotter areas, you should wash the pillows more often.
  2. Whether or not you shower before going to bed.
  3. The number of hours you spend on the bed laying on the pillow.
  4. What you wear on your head when going to bed.
  5. Your hair and skincare routines before going to bed.
  6. The type of pillows; decorative pillows may require more frequent cleaning.


Now you have enough information on how to wash pillows, whether it is hand washing or machine washing. From the comprehensive details in all the article sections, you can see that it is not a complicated process. You can now plan to clean your pillows once every few months. We hope you will apply the tips to clean your pillows correctly.

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