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How can I Wash Pillows?

Tricia Christensen
Updated: May 23, 2024

It may or may not be possible to wash pillows — it really depends on the material with which they are stuffed and the fabric that makes up the covering of the pillow. Tags on pillows tend to indicate which ones are washable. Of course, if the choice is between tossing and washing a pillow, many can be safely hand washed or washed in the washing machine. This doesn’t mean that the pillow will emerge from this process fully clean and in the same shape it was when purchased new, but it may be worth a try to save some money on replacement.

It is possible to wash bed pillows of many kinds, but again they’re not always the same after a good cleaning. Those with polyester, cotton or down fill are safe to put in the washer, but they do get heavy. Make sure any washing machine used has the capacity for heavy items, and plan to wash pillows on a gentle cycle. Sometimes the weight of the wet pillow is too heavy for the dryer, and wringing out the pillow before drying it is recommended. It can also help to place tennis balls in the dryer to help the pillow’s filling redistribute and fluff up.

Some pillows are definitely not machine washable, as is the case for those from furniture, like couches, and those filled with beads. Yet it may be possible to spot clean them with cleaners used on upholstery. It’s a good idea to check any cleaning solutions on a part of the pillow that isn’t normally seen to makes sure these won’t bleach the fabric. Sometimes mild dishwashing liquid can be used too, but checking to make sure this doesn’t damage fabrics is a good idea. Usually people can’t wash pillows that are part of large furniture like couches or chairs and these benefit most from being professionally cleaned.

Buying washable pillow covers makes great sense and can extend the life of pillows. Pillow surfaces are usually most obviously dirty. Still, over time pillows accumulate dust mites, which makes them heavier, and they absorb a certain amount of body soil and odors from the air. Even covers don’t fully protect against this accumulation, unless they are completely airtight.

It is recommended that those with allergies replace bedroom pillows on a regular basis and some people even recommend people wash pillows once a week, which will wear the pillow out much sooner. Fortunately, new pillows for beds are not expensive. At discount stores and value stores, simple ones can be purchased for under $10 US Dollars (USD).

PillowGuide is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PillowGuide contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 08, 2014

@AnswerMan, I tend to throw away my inexpensive bed pillows whenever they become heavily soiled, but I will take them to a laundromat sometimes and use a front loading washer. They don't become unbalanced, and I think they come out cleaner than when I use a top loader. I agree with you on the extended drying time, but my laundromat has a special machine that will let me spin out the pillows a second time before putting them in a dryer.

By AnswerMan — On Mar 07, 2014

I usually wash pillow cases more regularly than the pillows themselves, mostly because pillows tend to unbalance my washing machine. I'd suggest washing more than one pillow at a time, and placing them on opposite sides of a top loader's drum. I wouldn't wash them with other clothing, either.

The main problem I've noticed with washing pillows is the amount of water that remains after the final rinsing and spinning cycles. The pillows can be very soggy, so drying time could be longer than anticipated.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PillowGuide contributor, Tricia...
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