Pillows are one of the most important parts of getting a great night’s sleep, yet most people ignore their pillows. And we have to ask: why? Like the rest of our bedding, pillows come into contact with saliva, hair and skin oils, and dust on a regular basis. Show your pillows a little TLC and follow this guide to learn how to properly care for your pillows, how often they should be washed, and when to buy new ones.
Read the Label, Not All Pillows Are Created Equal
The label is a good place to start on your pillow care journey. Did you know that some pillows shouldn’t be washed? You should avoid machine washing foam pillows, as the foam filling material can break down in the washing machine. High-quality down pillows and fiberfill pillows are easily washed at home; as long as you properly dry the pillows to avoid mold.
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. The label will provide information on the materials used to make the pillow as well as basic cleaning instructions.
Tips for Washing Down Pillows in Your Washing Machine
Using the washing machine to clean your pillows is relatively simple, but there are a few tips you need to keep in mind. Make sure to wash two pillows at the same time to balance the machine. If possible, use a machine that doesn’t have an agitator to avoid damaging the fill power. If you have to use a top-loading agitator washing machine, place the pillows in the drum vertically and avoid pushing the pillows to the bottom of the drum.
- Follow the instructions on the label for water temperature. When in doubt, use cold water.
- Use the machine’s gentle cycle with a tablespoon of mild, liquid detergent.
- Run the pillows through the rinse cycle twice to remove any detergent residue.
- Tumble dry the pillows on high heat.
- Place tennis or dryer balls into the dryer to keep the fill from clumping.
- Turn and fluff the pillows manually several times during the drying cycle.
- Keep pillows in the dryer until they’re completely dry (they may need 2+ drying cycles).
Cleaning Foam Pillows
If your pillows are made from memory foam, do not machine wash them or send them to a dry cleaner. Instead, check the label for instructions. Then, remove and wash the pillow cover (or zippered casing) per the instructions on the label. While the cover is in the washing machine, use your vacuum cleaner with the upholstery tool to suck out any dust in the foam or tumble dry the foam on the air-only dryer cycle. You can spot clean the pillow with a cloth and soapy water as needed.
How Often Should You Wash Your Pillows?
So just how often should you wash your pillows? Try to wash or spot clean your pillows at least twice a year. Wash your mattress cover at the same time to remove allergens from your bedroom. If you use pillow protectors, wash those at least once a month or invest in a second set and change protectors as you wash your bed linens.
If you wash your pillows regularly and care for your bedding, your pillow can last for years. However, it’s important to know when to replace your pillow. Once it starts losing its shape (or fill power, in the case of down pillows), don’t hesitate to purchase a replacement.
Take Good Care of Your Pillows…
...and they’ll take care of you. Ask yourself: how healthy are your pillows? If you don't wash and care for them, then your pillows won’t last long. Take advantage of these tips on proper bedding care for pillows and show your bedding some TLC!