How To Wash Pillows?

Most people are meticulous about cleaning sheets and comforters, whereas the same attention is not given to the pillows. Over time, like other types of bedding, pillows accumulate dust, sweat, bugs, mites, dead skin, and oil particles. If it has been months since you last how to wash the pillows then you are due for a trip to the laundry room.

Even though pillows are used regularly, they are rarely washed. If the pillow has started to turn yellow, it’s a clear sign that it needs washing. Most people are skeptical about washing pillows as they believe it will cause permanent damage to them. It is possible if they do not wash them the right way.

Pillows need thorough cleaning two to four times a year. Thorough cleaning does not just include spot cleaning but a full-on trip through a wash cycle. However, most people are not aware of pillow cleaning methods.

So, how to wash the pillow and when? How long it takes to dry? And many such questions come to the mind of an individual when he takes on the task to wash pillows. Worry not, you will find answers to all your pillows-washing questions.

How To Wash Pillows

First, read the label to know whether the pillow is machine-washed or hand-washed. Cleaning instructions are given on the label and it is wise to follow them. Pillows become home to the dust, sweat, and drool. Even if they look clean, you should still wash them every 3 or 4 months.

Cleaning pillows at the right time will help prevent an allergic reaction. If you are prone to allergies, it is recommended to wash pillows every two months. Pillows will be uncomfortable to use and lose their color if left unchecked for a prolonged period.

There are several types of pillows available in the market and not all of them can be washed like the regular laundry. If you treat different types of pillows the same when it comes to washing then you will definitely be damaging their structure.

That’s the reason pillows come with cleaning instructions, so, they do not lose their shape with the wrong washing method. You may find different cleaning tips on different pillow types. For proper pillow care, the cleaning label may suggest any of the following options.

  • Dry Clean Only – If the pillow care tag recommends “Dry Clean Only” or “Do Not Wash”, it means washing them with water will damage the cover, fill, or shape. Take the pillow to the professional dry cleaner to have it cleaned.
  • Spot Clean Only – It means the entire pillow can not be washed, however, only spots and stains can be cleaned on the surface.
  • Hand Wash – Pillows with sensitive material should be gently washed by hand. These pillows are submerged in water and then massaged and squeezed to get the dirt out. Most of these pillows are not also allowed to dry in the dryer as well. The spin cycle of the washing machine can damage the shape of the pillow.
  • Machine Washable – Machine-Washable pillows include all the helpful cleaning instructions on the care label. These cleaning tips may include washing the pillow with a gentle cycle and avoiding bleach or harsh detergents.

Some Pillow materials break down, clump, or shrink when the washing instructions are not properly followed. The majority of pillow types can be washed with a washing machine on a gentle cycle. Once it is checked that it is safe to machine wash the pillow, the rest is easy.

How To Wash Pillows In The Washing Machine

If the care label recommends a machine wash, the process is simple. Just follow the following steps to wash bed pillows.

  • Add warm water to the washing machine and mix it with a mild detergent.
  • Go for a gentle cycle to mix detergent and water
  • Add cold water, throw the pillow in the washer, and select the rinse and spin cycle.
  • Dry the pillow on low heat and you are done

Best Washer For Washing Pillows

It is better to wash pillows in front or top-loading washing machines without an agitator and place two pillows at a time to wash. However, it does not mean that the top-loading machine with an agitator can not be used in clean pillows. Place the pillows vertically in the washer. They are less likely to get damaged with a one or two-minute gentle cycle.

Washing Pillows Based on Their Stuffing

Cotton is the most commonly used filling but many other types of pillows like memory foam are also getting popular. Both of the aforementioned pillows have a totally different wash and clean instructions. Read on to know how pillows are washed based on their filling.

Washing Cotton, Feather, Polyester, Synthetic, And Down Pillows

Most pillows with cotton, synthetic, and down filling can be washed in the same way. These pillow types can be cleaned in a washing machine, however, it is still better to read the tag first for more clarity. Some pillows can be of the rare kind that can be cleaned only with dry-cleaning.

  • Take Off The Case – If the pillow is covered with a protector, pillowcase, or sham, take it off first. The pillow cover should be washed separately from the body of the pillow.
  • Add Detergent – Add a cup/scoop of the regular washing detergent to get the regular wash job done. If you want the pillows to be ultra white, add other ingredients to the mix besides the detergent. Mix 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, the recommended bleach amount, and ½ a cup of borax.
  • Put The Pillow In The Washer – It is safe to wash pillows in the washing machine, preferably, the one without an agitator. Put two pillows vertically at the same time, so that the pillows do not get thrown around much.
  • Starting The Wash Cycle – It is important to choose the right settings when washing pillows. Adjust the settings as such so that the pillow runs with hot water and goes through a 2nd rinse cycle. Select the “bulky/large” cycle if this option is available in the washer. Now, wait a bit to let the washing machine do its magic.
  • Put Pillows In The Dryer – Once the pillows are washed, put them in the dryer to dry. For feather-filled pillows, adjust the dryer to “air”/”fluff”/”no heat” settings. Switch the dryer settings to low heat for synthetic pillows.
  • Dry The Pillows – Put two tennis balls in separate clean, white socks and throw them in the dryer along with the pillows. It will help with the fluffiness and decrease the drying time.
  • Check Pillows – Once the dryer cycle is finished, check for dampness. Smell it to examine moisture in the center of the pillows. If the pillows are not quite dry yet, repeat the drying process for the second time. Check again to see if the pillows are clean and ready.

Washing Latex and Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam has a different type of stuffing, so, most of these pillows come with a cleaning instruction to wash them by hand. So, the washing method is different than the aforementioned pillow types. For mild cleaning, you can dust off the pillow using a vacuum. Follow these steps to wash the Memory Foam pillow.

  • Remove The Pillowcase – Take off the pillowcase prior to washing them. Protective covers should be washed separately in the washing machine. Whereas the body of the pillow is washed by hand.
  • Fill Tub With Water – Washing machines can be too tough for memory foam pillows. The sensitive pillow material can get damaged by the machine, so, it is hand washed. Fill a tub, sink, or large container with warm water. The water should be enough to cover or dip the pillow.
  • Add Detergent – Add a tablespoon of liquid clothes detergent in the water for each pillow. Swirl it around with your hand to mix it evenly till it bubbles up.
  • Wash The Pillow – Once the detergent is mixed, place and move around the pillow in water to let the detergent do its work. Massage and squeeze the pillow with your hand to get out all the dirt. It will freshen the whole pillow past the outer layer.
  • Rinse – When you feel that the pillow is thoroughly washed, put the pillow under fresh water. Check for suds in the runout and try to get as much soap out as possible. Rinsing the pillow sometimes takes longer than washing it. It may take several minutes to get the soap out.
  • Drying the Pillow – Just like the memory foam pillow can not be washed in the machine, it can not be dried in the dryer as well. High heat levels ruin the structure causing it to crumble. The right way to dry would be to layout the pillow on a clean towel in a dry area or let it dry in the sun.
  • Check The Pillow – As a memory foam pillow is made of sponge-like material, so, it is capable of holding water for a long time. Check before bringing it to the bed that there is no water left. Mold and mildew will grow in case the pillows are not fully dried.

Spot-Cleaning The Pillow

If the pillow filling does not allow it to wash then spot-cleaning is the only option left in case of visible stains. The approach to spot-treating is different for different pillows based on the type. The common spot-cleaning method is to use Digestants (enzyme-containing detergents) to pretreat the stain.

Put a tiny tab of detergent or stain remover into the soiled area with a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to sit and work its way for at least 10 minutes. It will clean any spots or stains on the pillows.

How Often Should You Wash The Pillow?

If the pillow is encased in a cover then the pillow covers should be washed at least once every two weeks. Washing the entire body of the pillow may require two to four times cleaning a year.

Pillows can accommodate dirt, sweat, oil, and even fungus, so, if left unwashed, so, it can lead to odors and health concerns.

Replacing Pillows

Even if you clean the pillows regularly, there comes a time when you need to replace them. No matter how well-maintained the pillow is, washing can surely prolong its life but it can not make it last forever.

The ideal time is when it stops providing enough support and comfort to the head and spine. Perform a quick test to know whether it’s time to replace or not; Fold it in half and release, if it does not bounce back, it is time to toss the pillow and get a new one.

Pillows need to be replaced every two years, however, properly cared for pillows can last for five years.

Pillow Cleaning Tips

Besides washing pillows by hand or with the machine, some cleaning tips can help you add years to the lifetime of the pillow.

  • The best guide for washing pillows is the care label. Read the fabric care label to know how it is washed.
  • Use vinegar or baking soda if the pillow smells.
  • Fluff the pillow regularly to keep them in shape using wool dryer balls.
  • Use pillowcase liners to prolong the life of new and clean pillows.
  • Even if you do not wash the pillows regularly, hang them on a clothesline on a sunny day to kill dust mites.
  • Clean pillows frequently if you are prone to allergies, preferably, every 4 months.
  • Wash removable covers and pillows separately.
  • Use the lowest heat or air dry setting to safely dry the pillows.
  • Drying pillows take several hours, so, make sure the moisture is removed to prevent the development of mold and mildew.
  • Most pillow fillings trap detergent, so, try to remove all the soap inside.

Key Takeaway

To sum up, even if most people believe otherwise, clean the pillows periodically, every 3 or 4 months. Not all pillow types can be washed using the same method, some of them can only be hand washed whereas others are machine washable. Read the pillow care label carefully to know more.

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