Under 2 hours
Resting your head on a clean pillow can be the start of a good night's rest. There are other reasons that you should wash your pillows regularly, too. Pet dander, dust mites, dirt and oils from your skin can all build up on your pillow. These things can make your bed less clean and even possibly trigger allergies. This guide will show you how to wash pillows.
When to Wash Pillows
Before washing pillows, it's important to know a little more about the process. Generally, you should wash pillows used nightly about every six months. You usually don't need to clean pillows in guest rooms as often because they aren't used so frequently.
Here are a few signs it's time to wash your pillows:
- Color: The pillow or pillow cover is starting to look yellow.
- Smell: The pillows have an odor. Odors may not be strong, but sweat can give pillows a slightly sour or musty smell.
- Feel: The pillows don't feel fluffy or comfortable. Washing and drying them can help refresh and revive the filling.
Get Your Pillows Ready
Most polyester-fill and down pillows are safe to clean in a washer and dryer. To do this at home, you'll need a front-loading, non-agitating washing machine so your pillows aren't damaged. If you don't have one, consider taking your pillows to a laundromat where you can use a large commercial washer.
Before washing, prepare the pillows for cleaning. Slip off the pillowcase and pillow cover. Then, look over the pillow for any signs of rips or tears. Damaged pillows should not go in your washing machine since the fill material may come out. Set the pillow covers aside for a separate wash and follow the manufacturer’s suggestions.
Tip: Check the care tag on the pillows before machine washing them. If the manufacturer recommends hand washing, follow those cleaning instructions.
Load the Washing Machine
Loading the washing machine properly is important because an unbalanced load won't clean properly. An unbalanced load can occur when there is too much on one side of the washer drum and not enough on the other.
To keep the load balanced, wash at least two pillows at a time. Push them apart once you add them to the drum, so they fill the washing machine as much as possible.
Add the laundry supplies you prefer to the washing machine. Typically, you should at least use detergent while washing pillows. You may also want to add fabric softener, stain removers and odor fighters.
Tip: Only use the laundry supplies recommended on the care tag. Harsh cleaners like chlorine bleach may damage some materials.
Set and Run the Washing Machine
Next, it's time to set the washing machine. Turn the dial or push the buttons to set the machine to delicate. The delicate cycle is a setting for materials that can easily be damaged.
To avoid shrinking during the wash cycle, use cold water. Set the machine for an extra rinse, if possible. A second rinse can help ensure no detergent remains on the pillows. Allow the extra rinse cycle to finish. Then remove the pillows from the washer.
Load the Dryer
You've put your pillows through the washing machine. Next, it's time to dry them. For best results, you need to keep the dryer balanced, just like the washer. To do so, dry two or more pillows at a time.
Add dryer balls or tennis balls to the dryer. The balls will help to keep the pillows from bunching up and may speed up the drying process. Once the balls are in the dryer, add the pillows and move them around to fill up the drum.
Don't be alarmed by any banging sounds caused by the balls. Dryer balls can be noisy, but they won't damage your dryer.
Set and Run the Dryer
Set the dryer to the lowest temperature setting available. If your dryer has a delicate setting, choose that one.
Run the dryer through one cycle and then check the pillows. Repeat the drying process. In most cases, it will take two to three cycles to get the pillows completely dry. Avoid using pillows until they're 100 percent dry.
Tip: Down pillows can be machine washed and dried in the same manner as polyester-filled pillows. However, they should only be washed on a gentle cycle and dried on medium or low heat. Down pillows can take up to three times longer to dry than polyester pillows.
Shake the Pillows
While the pillows tumble in the dryer, wash the pillow covers by following the manufacturer's instructions. When you remove the pillows from the dryer, add the pillow covers and dry those too.
Shake the pillows gently to work out any lumps or clumps in the fill. Once the pillow covers are dry, slip them back onto the pillows. Then, put clean pillowcases on the pillows to finish.
Use Special Care with Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam pillows must be cared for by hand. Despite their firm support, the material itself is delicate. Memory foam pillows shouldn't go on in the washer or dryer.
Instead, vacuum memory foam pillows with a hand-held vacuum once a week using an upholstery or brush attachment. For stains, spot-clean the pillows with a solution of mild dish soap and water. Dip a sponge lightly into the solution and dab the area. Then, gently rub in a circular motion until the stain is gone and allow the pillow to air dry fully.
Wash memory foam pillows by hand every two to three months. To do so, fill a basin or bucket with cool to lukewarm water and add a teaspoon or less of gentle laundry soap. Stir it with a paint mixer or wooden spoon to create a bubbly solution.
Slowly sink the pillow into the soap solution, and then squeeze it to allow the pillow to take in the soap solution. Squeeze the water out of the pillow, then repeat the process a second time.
Drain the basin or bucket and refill it with clean water. Push the pillow down into the water and squeeze and repeat until the water runs clear. You may have to empty and refill the water a second time.
Gently squeeze excess water from the pillow, then place it outside in direct sunlight to air dry. If you can’t put the pillow outdoors, find a spot indoors with good circulation. Add a fan to help speed up drying.
Check that the pillow is completely dry before returning it to the bed.
If you’re worried about washing your pillows correctly, consider taking them to a professional. Most dry cleaners offer services that take care of odors and stains, so you can get back to sleeping comfortably. A dry cleaner can also handle memory foam and a variety of other pillow styles that you can't put in the washing machine.
Whether you have polyester-filled, down or memory foam pillows, you can wash them at home. The key to success is following the manufacturer's care instructions and using the right laundry supplies. Stock up on everything you need to clean and care for your bedding.
Use The Home Depot Mobile App to locate products and check inventory. We’ll take you to the exact aisle and bay.