This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure
You spend at least one-third of your life with your head on a pillow. You should take care of it, right? But do you know how to wash pillows? Pillows can be one of the dirtiest things in your home because they accumulate dust mites and other allergens over time.
Here is your ultimate guide to cleaning pillows and cushions, including how to wash a body pillow, how to wash a memory foam pillow and how to wash throw pillows and cushions in order to keep them fresh and clean.
How To Wash Pillows
When washing standard pillows, you can either hand wash them in a large sink or bathtub with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.
Or you can machine wash if it is safe to do so, according to the pillow cleaning care instructions. This tends to be a simpler process than washing other types of pillows.
ALWAYS check care labels to see which type of cleaning they recommend for your product if any at all.
- Remove your pillows from the pillow cases and pillow protectors.
- Machine wash pillows that are machine washable with cold or warm water on a gentle cycle with a small amount of mild detergent (no bleach).
- Dry pillows fully before using them again.
Machine drying is not recommended as it can shrink the size of your fluffier cushions. Air dry outdoors in the sun, sitting on top of the clothesline.
Check for moisture levels after around 24 hours to make sure they’re completely dry.
If there’s any evidence of mould, you should consider replacing your pillows as this is difficult to remove and not good for your family’s health.
Pillows that are not machine washable should be spot cleaned or dry cleaned rather than washed in the washing machine as this will shorten their lifespan and reduce durability.
How To Wash A Body Pillow
Body pillows are typically made of polyester and foam, much like standard pillows, which makes them easy to wash, aside from the size. With a few simple steps, they’ll be as good as new again.
- When hand washing a body pillow, add warm water to a bathtub with a small amount of gentle detergent.
- Squeeze the pillow (don’t twist it) until the water runs clear.
- Rinse the body pillow completely with clean warm water and remove any excess water and detergent before laying it flat on a clothesline to dry.
Pressing against the pillow will help to release water from the centre, rather than wringing it out and potentially damaging the filling.
- For machine washing, add your body pillow to the washing machine on a gentle cycle with warm or cold water.
Lie your body pillow flat in direct sunlight on a towel or on top of the clothesline until completely dry.
RELATED READING: How to create a cleaning schedule that works
How To Wash Memory Foam Pillows or Bamboo Pillows:
You should NEVER put your memory foam pillow or a bamboo pillow into the washing machine for cleaning.
Change your pillowcases often and consider vacuuming your memory foam pillow between washing to freshen it up and reduce mites and bacteria.
Spot clean small stains or spills with a cloth and a small amount of detergent until it comes clean. Put outside to dry.
For when you need to wash a memory foam pillow completely, follow these steps:
- Fill a sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and soap.
- Submerge your pillow in the soapy water and squeeze it until you can feel that dirt is being removed from its surface.
- Drain the soapy mixture, refill with clean water, rinse again to remove all traces of detergent
- Gently squeeze out any excess moisture by hand without twisting or wringing your pillow too harshly – this would damage foam cushions!
- Take outside to air dry, preferably in direct sunlight to dry quickly. If this is not possible, dry beneath or in front of a fan to speed up the process.
How To Wash Throw Pillows & Cushions
Throw pillows usually need less care, however here are some things you should look out for when it comes time to clean your throw pillow.
If your cushion has a removable cover, you can either wash your throw pillow with the cover on or remove it and wash just the cover.
To decide if you need to wash the insert, check if there is any stains or odours that may have seeped through into the insert. If so, it is best to wash the entire throw pillow.
Identifying the proper care for your throw pillows is important, especially if you want them to last.
The first step in determining what kind of cleaning method will work best for your pillow, look at a manufacturer’s label to what options are recommended and whether it needs dry-cleaning.
If a care label is not available, take note of the fabric type for your decorative pillows. Delicate fabrics like silk and velvets require dry cleaning fluid while other materials like cotton or polyester gentle washing with water should suffice.
Spot Test Throw Cushions – To test if an item can be washed on a delicate cycle, try doing what’s called “spot testing.” Use a white towel with the recommended cleaning solution and blot it against your throw pillow, holding it there for 30 seconds. Afterwards, inspect the areas where you applied pressure to ensure there is no colour transfer onto the towel. If no issue, you should be able to wash your throw pillow.
If you want to clean your entire throw pillow, it’s often best just to leave the throw pillow covers on as otherwise, your insert may come apart in the washing machine. This will help them maintain their original shape.
Alternatively, you can handwash the inserts in warm water with a mild detergent. Gently rub the pillow and rinse thoroughly to remove soap residue.
- To machine wash, choose a delicate cycle with cold or warm water and a mild detergent.
- To dry, lay the cushions out flat to dry on a clothesline or on an outside deck, sheltered from direct sunlight.
How Often Should I Wash Pillows?
While we should wash our pillowcases every one to two weeks, the actual pillows are typically cleaned much less frequently than this.
It is recommended you wash pillows every three to six months depending on how often you use them. If they have been exposed to moisture or dust, it’s best that the pillow gets washed more often.
Washing pillows more frequently during warmer months is recommended as we tend to sweat more. However, this is often a cleaning task that many people forget.
Quick Tip: For a clever cleaning hack between washes, you can freshen up your pillows by removing pillowcases and sprinkling baking soda on the surface of the pillow. Leave it for an hour or two then vacuum your pillow to remove the soda. This will also remove dust mites and dirt, in the same way you can use this method to freshen your mattress.
Make sure you are also replacing your pillows regularly, as this is often something most people forget and it can have a big impact on your quality of sleep as pillows lose their support over time.
It’s important to keep your pillows and cushions clean for a variety of reasons including allergies, mould growth, asthma relief, and dust mites. However, it can be difficult or time-consuming if you don’t know how to clean your pillows.
These simple methods will make this process much easier as you add this task to your regular deep cleaning schedule!
Check out these deep cleaning guides: