Don’t lose sleep over how to wash your pillows properly, we got you covered!
A good night’s sleep is everything. Not getting enough shuteye in the evening can cause a range of mental and physical health problems. A good first step is maintaining your pillows and bedding.
Most people wash their sheets at least once a week, including their pillowcases. As the laundry list for the week gets longer, have you added pillows to the mix?
A good timetable for your pillow-washes would be about every 4-6 months or 2-3 times per year. As you sleep, your body releases sweat, hair, dead skin cells, and drool. A buildup of all these factors creates a breeding ground of unhealthy bacteria and bed guests you weren’t expecting.
Ever heard of dust mites? They are so small, you’ve never seen one. However, these tiny microscopic guests take residence in your sheets and pillows if they build up too much dirt and debris. When summer and spring come around, it’s smart to give your bedding an extra shakeout since dust mites’ favorite weather is humidity. Another place to keep tidy is couches or anything upholstered, especially if they are in your bedroom.
Don’t panic, these dirt collectors don’t bite. As time passes and dust mites lay waste to your fabrics, they leave a track of feces behind. Too much bug poop causes dust allergies to flare up, such as asthma, and sinus clogging. If you’ve been waking up feeling stuffed in your chest and nose lately, it’s time to wash your bedding.
You’ll thank us later when you can breathe easier and have the added benefit of clearer skin. If your pillow has turned yellow, the sweat has accumulated to the point of no return. Although most people think washing their pillowcases will solve some skin issues, it goes a bit deeper, and that’s all in the pillow itself. Sam Williamson, a dermatologist at DermCollective, states that “subclinical acne is associated with failing to wash your pillows regularly, a type of acne that sits deep within the skin and usually shows as aggressive red bumps.” (Source: DermCollective)
Hear that? Clean pillows equal clear sinuses and clearer skin. Amongst all these bonuses, let’s wash them properly. Follow these steps to ensure your pillows stay clean, and do not fall victim to an aggressive washing machine.
When to Throw Out Your Pillow
There comes a time in any of our lives when we must face a harsh reality, our favorite pillow must go. The average rule of thumb amongst pillow experts is 2-3 years for a replacement. Are you feeling a bit attached?
Keeping your pillow clean and maintained extends its longevity overall. You will have an allergen-free, supportive, and dust-mite-free sleep experience.
When you start waking up to a sore neck, bad body posturing, and headaches, it’s time to make a switch. As pillows start becoming lumpy, loose or have a saggy condition, it is best to throw them out. Excessive allergies or overall sleep discomfort would be an added sign that your pillow may be failing you.
It pays to invest in your sleep. Buying pillows made from quality materials will keep them holding out longer. For example, The NYC Sleep Doctor claims that basic polyester pillows (also known as down alternative or fiber pillows) go to sleep early. You can only expect these types of pillows to last from six months to two years.
Check These Pillow Lifespans
1. Latex Pillows
More durable than normal memory foam, but with the highest price point in the pillow game. Latex pillows are eco-friendly, made from rubber trees. They hold their shape well and you can expect them to last around 3-5 years. A good value for your investment.
Latex Pillows We Like
2. Memory Foam Pillows
These pillows are natural conformists, adhering to your body’s every joint and muscle. If you sleep the same way every night, the wear might show on a memory foam pillow in about 4 years, and some are even covered by extended warranties.
Memory Foam Pillows We Like
3. Down and Feather Pillows
The shortest lifespan out of all these pillows would be the down pillow style. These build up clumps in the material after long periods of sweat and weight application. You can try to fluff and re-fluff these pillows to extend their life, but be prepared to replace them every year or less.
If you’re still in doubt, try the fold test!
Take a pillow in question, fold it in half, and if it holds its shape after you release your grip, it has lost its ability to support you in your sleep.
3. Down and Feather Pillows
Pillow Care Guidelines
Before we dive into personalized pillow care and washing rules, three steps are universal for all pillows, regardless of material.
Check them out!
Pillow Care Step #1: Air out the Pillow
Depending on where you live, you’d want to do this more often. The hotter it is, the more you sweat, and your pillows will need to air out. Fluff them every day as you make your bed to uphold shape. When you’re washing pillowcases, it does not hurt to toss the pillows on an outdoor clothesline to catch some fresh air. For more solid pillows, such as those made from foam or latex, check the tags washing instructions before you put them in a quick-spin cycle in the dryer. Remember, no heat for the drying settings.
Pillow Care Step #2: Check the Tags
All pillows are made different, so to say. Some have materials that can take a harsher spin cycle and others will tear on slow rinse. Reference the specific material guide on how to wash pillows included later in this article.
For tricky stains, spot clean before you wash them. Make sure you’re treating the source of the stain with the right ingredients to not make matters worse.
All good? Now you’re ready for the easy part.
We recommend washing two pillows at once to keep the load balanced. An unbalanced load is not the end of the world, but it keeps the pillows form much better if there’s no pressure coming from one side or another. In addition to loading correctly, try to avoid the agitator (this is the middle divider on most top-loading washing machines) as it can damage seams and open up the pillow during a spin cycle. If this is your only choice, opt for a laundromat with front-loading machines or wash on the gentle cycle for a shorter time interval.
Pillow Care Step #3: Dry Appropriately
Now we hand out hidden secrets for nothing, but tennis balls. Crazily enough, chucking two or three tennis balls in the dryer with your pillows will help keep the fluff and shape you love. Your neighbors might hate the ruckus, but you’ll sleep well at night.
Add dry towels if you want to speed up the process, and turn your setting to moderate heat for about an hour or so. It’s important to note that your usual dryer settings are not going to dry the pillow entirely without your help. Since the sensors track surface moisture, your fluffing will still be soggy if you don’t personalize the settings.
Reference the material guide provided on types of fluffing and textiles for proper drying techniques. For the lighter pillows, hanging them outside in the sun is always a nice, clean bet.
Pro Tip- If you’re finding your pillows to be unnecessarily sweaty, dirty, or unkempt, purchase a pillow cover to go between your casing and pillow to maintain cleanliness for longer periods of time.
Personalized Pillow Upkeep
Just because down pillows can be sat in the sun, does not mean it goes for all other pillow types. Always be sure to check the tag before doing anything different with your pillows.
|Pillow Type/Material||Additional Washing Instructions|
|Latex Pillows||Do not wash latex pillows in a washing machine. Do not submerge this pillow type in water. Hand wash the spots that need attention with warm water and a mild detergent. It’s best to do this every two months.|
|Memory Foam Pillows||Do not wash in a washing machine and do not dry in a dryer. Start by vacuuming the pillow’s top material. This is a pillow that can be spot cleaned, or hand washed with mild detergent and placed to air dry on a flat surface.|
|Down/Feather Pillows||Machine wash these pillows with cool water and a mild detergent on the gentle cycle only. Since these pillows are individually dense with filling, it’s recommended to rinse them twice before drying to remove excess soap. You can dry them in the dryer for 20 minutes or air dry.|
|Polyester Pillows||The most durable of the bunch. Wash polyester pillows with warm water. Be sparse with the detergent, you only need one tablespoon. Dry them on the tumble cycle.|
|Gel Pillows||Use baking soda to wash your gel pillows. Never put them in the washer or dryer. Baking soda is a great alternative to detergent to soak up dampness and odor. Dilute it with water, leave it for a few minutes, and start spot cleaning your pillow once bubbles form. Leave the gel pillow to air dry after you’re finished.|
How to Wash Pillows in a Washing Machine
All pillows come with their own set of care guidelines. Before you get too hasty with tossing your pillow in the wash, check these tips on how to wash pillows.
- Wash pillows on the gentle cycle
- Wash pillows in warm water, never hot water
- Use mild detergent sparingly
- Combine with cold water on the rinse and spin cycle to combat suds
- Tumble dry your pillows
- Always dry your pillow on low heat
If your washing machine is a top-loader with an agitator, load your pillows vertically to avoid rips and tears. For front-loading washing machines, try to keep the load balanced so no lumps form in your favorite pillows.
Sanitizers We Love
How to Combat Pillow Damage
Nobody wants to say goodbye to their favorite pillows. It takes ages to find a pillow that works for you, your sleeping habits, and your body posture. When you find “the one”, you just know.
No matter if your pillow is pricey or affordable, sustainability matters to us. Besides blending up your pillow with the top-loading washing machine agitator, here are some other ways to wash your pillows:
1. Pillow Protection
Keep all your pillows fitted with a pillowcase and pillow protector at all times to keep your sleepers fresh and without stains.
“A pillow protector covers your pillows and provides a barrier against wear and tear, moisture, and stains. It can be made out of a variety of materials based on the desired benefits. A protector also minimizes wear and tear so you can enjoy that favorite pillow for many years” (Source: DownEtc).
It’s beneficial to use both pillowcases and pillow protectors to lengthen your pillow’s lifespan. You only need to wash a pillow protector once a month; whereas pillowcases should be washed weekly.
Let’s revisit this timetable.
|Once a week||wash pillowcases|
|Once a month||wash pillow protectors|
|Every 3-4 months||wash your pillows|
*Important to note that if you sleep warm, have pets in your home, or start to feel your allergies kick up, you should change your bedding more regularly.
Pillow Protectors We LoveAmazon product
2. Pillow Prevention
We said it once, and we will say it again. Don’t put your pillow horizontally in a top loader. You might not have any stuffing left after.
Check your tags. Check your washing temperature. Check how to dry appropriately. Follow the instructions in the previous table for your pillow cheatsheet if you forget.
3. Treat Stains
Instead of deep cleaning your heavier outfitted pillows, spot cleaning is the cure.
When you spill or stain your pillow, spot-treat it as soon as you can. We recommend using a dab of detergent or diluted baking soda, and a toothbrush for gentle application.
For feather and down pillows, try to readjust the filling out of the way of the stain so it dries faster. After you’ll need to give it a rumble in your dryer with a few tennis balls to fluff the shape back to normal.
Stain Removers We LoveAmazon product
4. Wash Pillows in Unison
Think about taking a shower but leaving your socks on. You still track all the dirt and debris from the outside to a clean and fresh environment.
When you wash your pillows, wash the decorative pillows, cushions, and bedding. It will completely revitalize your bed at its source, keeping away all creepy crawlers looking to feast on dirt and dead skin cells you left behind.
We recommend washing mattress pads, or toppers at the same time you give your pillow a refresh. You don’t want to leave any untidy bedding lingering as you lay to sleep on a clean pillow.
Why is it so Important to Maintain Clean Pillow Habits?
The key factor in any comfortable night’s sleep is a soft, clean place to lie your head after a long day. Having a fresh pillow and clean bedding makes you relax into a cloud of “aaahh!” and catch some serious ZZZs.
Maintaining your pillow means maintaining your skin. Your facial pores won’t soak up the sweat and dirt from a month of soccer practice, and you’ll keep your face pollution to a minimum. Failing to freshen up your pillows can lead to mold and mildew buildup, and nobody wants that anywhere near their face, let alone their lungs.
Having a pillow protector keeps bed bugs at bay. Dust mites aren’t getting their dose of dust, so they move out. You’ll always be sleeping on the cool side of the pillow even in the warmer months.
A dirty pillow is a playground for allergies and insects. From bed bugs, dust mites, and fleas, they all flourish in a warm, moist, unkempt environment (Source: Casper). That’s not all you have to tackle though. These microscopic creatures breed dust-related allergies with symptoms such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Sneezing or coughing
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Irritated skin, similar to a rash
- Sore throat
How’s that for a machine wash?
Final Thoughts on How to Wash Pillows
We hope you learned everything you needed to know about pillow care and how to wash pillows, and you’re ready to sleep well tonight.
It’s easy to remember when we fledged from our homes and had to wash our clothes for the first time. Let us guess, you combined whites and colors, didn’t you?
Don’t worry, us too!
As we go through life, we learn new and improved ways to power through even the simplest of tasks. Hopefully, we taught you some new tips to make your life much easier when it comes to laundry day.
Remember: Check the tags. Don’t wash with hot water. You cannot wash memory foam, gel, or any foam-based pillows in the washer.
Good luck and sleep well!