Although I wash my sheets and pillow cases weekly, I must admit that I have not been paying as much attention to my pillow as I should. Like most people, I can’t even tell you the last time I washed it. It’s long past time that I learned how to wash my pillow.
Why is this important? Dirty pillows can be lumpy or have an unpleasant odor, not to mention the fact that they are unhygienic. Even when there are no visible stains or discolorations, unwashed pillows build up an invisible layer of dirt, sweat, dead skin, oils, mold and dust mite debris. A little disgusting to be laying your head on every night, isn’t it?
Can pillows even be washed, you ask? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In fact, experts recommend washing your pillows every six months. If you have asthma or allergies—and especially if you are allergic to dust mite droppings—every three months is better, as unwashed pillows can aggravate these conditions.
How do I wash my pillow then, you ask? Well, it depends on what type of pillow you have.
Tips on How to Wash My Pillow
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Check the Label
If I want to know how to wash my pillow, the first thing I do is check is the pillow’s tags, as that will have the most accurate washing instructions. But if you’re like me and cut the tag off, you may have to check the manufacturer’s website instead. If the instructions say “Dry Clean Only,” stop reading this and take your pillow to the dry cleaner, as it is one that requires professional cleaning.
Avoiding Damage to My Pillow While Washing
Washing machine agitators can be tough on pillows, especially if they are top loaders. If you only have access a top loading machine, then it may be worth your while to take your pillows to the laundromat to use a front loader. If you have no option but to use a top loading machine, be sure to wash at least two pillows at a time to balance the load and minimize damage to the pillows.
It is always best to use the gentlest and shortest wash cycle that is available. Look for the machine’s hand wash, gentle, or delicate settings. I do not advise ever putting memory foam pillows in the washing machine, as they will disintegrate. See the instructions below for washing memory foam pillows.
Always use a small amount of detergent and rinse the pillow thoroughly, as residual detergent leaves a sticky residue which can cause the filling to clump. Fabric softener can cause this problem as well, so it is best to avoid using it. One tablespoon of liquid detergent should be sufficient for washing two pillows, and bleach diluted to the manufacturer’s specifications can also be occasionally used to whiten them.
How to Dry My Pillow
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While I want to be sure I know how to wash my pillow properly, drying the pillow is just as important. It is critical to be sure the pillow is fully dry all the way through to avoid mildews and odor. Because of this, it is best to avoid using any auto-dry settings the dryer may have. These programs work by detecting surface moisture, and the surface of your pillow will be dry a lot sooner than the filling will be, leaving the inside still damp.
I would avoid using dryer sheets, as some of these can leave a residue on the pillow. If I want my pillow to come out scented, I can put a couple drops of essential oil on a clean towel and toss that in the dryer with the pillow. It is even possible to utilize aromatherapy techniques to promote restful sleep by using calming essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, or bergamot.
To avoid your pillow getting lumpy in the dryer, include some dryer balls. If you don’t have any dryer balls available, you can use a couple of tennis balls tied into individual clean socks. When the pillow is dry, use your hands to gently pull apart any lumps that formed, and then grab the pillow by one end and shake it firmly to redistribute the filling.
Drying pillows in the dryer can be risky, so always set the machine to low or no heat (depending on the type of pillow), and be patient. Grab a book, or put on a movie. If you’re in a rush, you can add some clean dry towels into the load to speed up the process. If you have access to a clothesline and a sunny day, that is the preferred method to dry your pillow, as there is no risk of damage from the dryer.
How to Wash My Pillow in a Washer
The first step is to remove any pillow cases or pillow covers and wash those separately with the sheets or another load. Always wash pillows by themselves.
Down or Feather Pillows (Real or Synthetic)
As previously stated, the key to how to wash my pillow in a machine is to use a delicate setting and minimal detergent. Ideally, I would use a detergent that is specifically designed for down or feather pillows, or hand wash detergent. But regular laundry detergent will suffice in a pinch, if that’s all that’s available.
Use a warm water setting. If you can, open up the washer during the cycle and massage in the detergent solution with your hands. This will help distribute the detergent evenly through the filling and avoid clumping.
When drying, it is important to keep in mind that down and feathers are very sensitive to heat. If you are putting your pillow in the dryer rather than on a clothesline, be sure to use a no heat cycle. Your pillows will take a long time to dry, but it is better than having them permanently smell like singed feathers.
Cotton or Polyester Pillows
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Like down or feather pillows, you can clean your cotton or polyester pillows in a washing machine with warm water and a gentle cycle.
Cotton and polyester pillows are not as sensitive to heat as down and feather pillows, at least. Use a low to moderate heat setting in the dryer. I recommended going with the lowest heat setting you can and to dry the pillow for an hour or longer. Using less heat reduces the possibility of damaging the pillows.
To clean buckwheat pillows, empty the filling into a large, shallow dish and place it in the sun for a few hours. Large cooking sheets, baking dishes, or mixing bowls work well for this. Wash the shell separately with cold water and a mild detergent.
How to Wash Memory Foam or Latex Pillows
Absolutely, under no circumstances, should you put a memory foam or latex pillow in a washer or dryer! Memory foam will break apart and you will be left with nothing but pillow chunks. And although steaming is usually a good option for items that cannot go into the wash machine, it is not advised here.
That doesn’t mean that we are stuck perpetually sleeping on unhygienic pillows. There are still methods for how to wash my pillow if my pillow is memory foam.
How to Keep Memory Foam Pillows Clean
It not recommended to wash memory foam pillows regularly the way you would other pillows. Excessive moisture can degrade the foam. Using a pillow cover with a zipper and spot cleaning is usually enough to maintain cleanliness. Instead of washing, every six months lay the pillow out in direct sunlight for several hours to keep it looking and smelling fresh.
How to Hand Wash Memory Foam Pillows
If your memory foam pillow is dirty enough that you have no choice but to wash it, you have the option to occasionally hand wash it. Fill a bathtub, basin, or sink with enough warm water to cover the pillow and add a tablespoon of liquid detergent. Massage the pillow with your hands to work in the detergent.
Rinse thoroughly until the rinse water runs clear with no visible suds. It is important to make sure all the detergent is rinsed away to avoid a sticky residue. Expect the rinsing step to take significantly longer than the washing step.
How to Dry Memory Foam Pillows
To dry your memory foam pillow, place it on a clean dry towel, preferably in the sunlight. Since memory foam is a spongy material, it will take a long time to dry. Avoid the temptation to throw it in the dryer, even with no heat. This can destroy your pillow.
How to Maintain My Pillow
Knowing how to wash my pillow is a critical component for maintaining that pillow’s lifespan. Keeping it clean will help extend its life. To keep your pillow in good condition during that life, here are some additional tips to follow:
Using Pillow Covers
Using a pillow cover as well as a pillow case protects your pillow from picking up damaging liquids from your body such as sweat, oil from your skin, or lotions. Wash all pillow covers and pillow cases weekly for best results. It is easy to just toss them in the load when you are washing your sheets.
Fluffing My Pillow Daily
When you get out of bed every morning, fluff your pillow to help it maintain its shape. Then place it on top of your other bedding to allow any moisture it may have accumulated during the night to evaporate.
Airing Out My Pillow Monthly
Once a month, hang your pillow on a clothesline for a few hours, or give it a run in a no-heat cycle in the dryer for an hour. This will help keep your pillow fluffy and smelling fresh.
Leaving it in direct sunlight is the best option, as sunlight is a natural disinfectant. But whenever leaving your pillow outside, make sure to check for insects before putting the cover back on. You don’t want to be bringing any uninvited critters into your bed!
Knowing My Pillow’s Lifespan
The expected lifespan of most pillows is only 1-2 years. Higher quality, more expensive pillows can last up to 3-4 years. Buckwheat pillows can last significantly longer.
While knowing how to wash my pillow helps to maximize its lifespan, it’s also good to be able to recognize when that lifespan is over. Sometimes washing that old yellowed pillow again is not the solution. It may be time to throw that pillow away and replace it with a new one. Often we hold on to our old pillows way longer than we should.
If you wash and maintain your pillow properly, those years of use will have you sleeping on a pillow that is clean, fluffy and fresh-smelling. Say goodbye to sleeping on lumpy, stained, or smelly pillows! There is nothing like enjoying a good night’s rest on a freshly washed pillow. Give it a try tonight!
Last update on 2023-06-09 at 16:09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API