How to Launder Pillows

How to Launder Pillows

How to Launder Pillows

Pillows are a crucial part of our daily lives, providing comfort and support for a good night’s sleep. However, over time, they can accumulate dust, sweat, oils, and allergens, making it essential to clean them regularly. Properly laundering your pillows not only prolongs their lifespan but also ensures a healthier sleeping environment. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to launder different types of pillows, including down, synthetic, and memory foam.

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Why Clean Your Pillows?

Before diving into the how-to, it’s important to understand why regular cleaning is necessary. Pillows can harbor dust mites, dead skin cells, and bacteria, which can contribute to allergies and respiratory issues. Regular cleaning helps eliminate these unwanted guests, ensuring a cleaner and more hygienic sleeping environment. Additionally, laundering can help maintain the pillow’s fluffiness and support, extending its usability.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pillows?

The frequency of cleaning your pillows depends on their material and usage. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Down and Feather Pillows: Every six months
  • Synthetic Pillows: Every three to six months
  • Memory Foam Pillows: Spot clean as needed and deep clean every six months

Preparing to Launder Pillows

Before you begin, check the care label on your pillow. This label provides important information on how to clean your pillow properly without damaging it. Most pillows are machine washable, but some, especially memory foam, require different care methods.

Machine Washing Down and Feather Pillows

Down and feather pillows are relatively easy to clean, but they require gentle handling to maintain their loft and comfort.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Check for Tears: Inspect the pillow for any small tears or holes. Repair these before washing to prevent feathers from escaping.
  2. Load the Washer: Place two pillows in the washing machine to balance the load. Use a front-loading washer if possible, as it is gentler on the pillows.
  3. Select the Right Detergent: Use a mild liquid detergent. Avoid using too much detergent, as it can leave residue on the feathers.
  4. Choose the Right Settings: Set the machine to a gentle cycle with warm water. Avoid hot water, as it can damage the feathers.
  5. Extra Rinse Cycle: Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is removed.
  6. Drying: Transfer the pillows to the dryer. Add a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls to help fluff the pillows as they dry. Use a low heat setting and check periodically to avoid overheating.
  7. Final Fluff: Once dry, fluff the pillows by hand to redistribute the feathers and restore their shape.

Machine Washing Synthetic Pillows

Synthetic pillows, such as those filled with polyester, are also machine washable and typically dry faster than down pillows.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Load the Washer: As with down pillows, wash two synthetic pillows at a time to maintain balance.
  2. Select the Right Detergent: Use a mild liquid detergent and avoid fabric softeners, as they can coat the fibers and reduce fluffiness.
  3. Choose the Right Settings: Use a gentle cycle with warm water.
  4. Extra Rinse Cycle: Run an extra rinse cycle to remove all detergent residue.
  5. Drying: Dry synthetic pillows on a low heat setting. Adding dryer balls can help maintain their shape and fluffiness.
  6. Final Fluff: Fluff the pillows by hand once dry.

Cleaning Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows require special care since they cannot be machine washed. Instead, they need to be spot cleaned and occasionally deep cleaned.

Spot Cleaning:

  1. Remove the Cover: If your memory foam pillow has a removable cover, take it off and wash it according to the care label instructions.
  2. Prepare Cleaning Solution: Mix a small amount of mild detergent with lukewarm water.
  3. Spot Clean: Dip a clean cloth into the solution and gently blot the stained areas. Avoid soaking the foam.
  4. Rinse: Use another clean cloth dipped in plain water to blot away any soap residue.
  5. Dry: Allow the pillow to air dry completely before putting the cover back on. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can degrade the foam.

Deep Cleaning:

  1. Fill the Tub: Fill a bathtub or large basin with lukewarm water and a small amount of mild detergent.
  2. Submerge the Pillow: Gently submerge the pillow and squeeze the foam to allow the soapy water to penetrate.
  3. Rinse Thoroughly: Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with clean water. Squeeze the pillow to remove all soap residue.
  4. Drying: Gently squeeze out excess water without wringing the foam. Place the pillow on a flat surface to air dry completely. This process can take up to 24 hours.

Tips for Maintaining Pillow Freshness

  • Use Pillow Protectors: Pillow protectors can help extend the time between cleanings by providing an additional barrier against sweat and dust.
  • Regular Fluffing: Fluff your pillows daily to help maintain their shape and loft.
  • Sunlight: Occasionally air out your pillows in the sun. The UV rays can help kill bacteria and freshen the pillows.

When to Replace Your Pillows

Even with regular cleaning, pillows will eventually need to be replaced. As a general guideline, consider replacing:

  • Down and Feather Pillows: Every two to three years
  • Synthetic Pillows: Every one to two years
  • Memory Foam Pillows: Every two to three years

Signs that it’s time to replace your pillow include lumps, loss of shape, and persistent odors.


Laundering your pillows is a vital part of maintaining a clean and healthy sleeping environment. By following these guidelines, you can keep your pillows fresh, fluffy, and free from allergens. Remember to always check the care label and follow the recommended cleaning procedures for the best results. With proper care, your pillows will provide you with comfort and support for many restful nights to come.

How to Wash Pillows: Ensuring Freshness and Longevity

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