By: Elizabeth Tran

November 19, 2021

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How to Wash Pillows: Learn How to Wash Any Kind of Pillow

When it comes to washing your pillows, you can’t treat every pillow equally. Some pillows are machine-friendly (though how you wash them depends on what type of washing machine you have). Other pillows can’t go in the machine — they need to be hand washed.

Whether you own a front-loading washing machine, a top-loader with/without an agitator, or you’re stuck having to handwash your pillows,  we are here to unlock separate washing guides and to make it as easy as possible.

Let’s get started.

How to Wash Pillows by Hand

People remain concerned about the durability of pillows, so they often prefer hand washing over machine wash. Sometimes, this cleaning method is a choice and other times it’s more like following care instructions mentioned by the manufacturer. Whatever scenario you are facing, I’m sharing an easy guide for your comfort.

Things You’ll need

  • Washing detergent
  • A bathtub or a big bucket

Here are some simple steps to follow for washing a pillow by hand:

STEP 1. Pick a big bucket or bathtub that provides adequate space for washing two pillows at the same time. It should be big enough that pillows are fully submerged in water.

STEP 2. You need to fill the bucket with warm water. Keep in mind that hot water will damage the inner material, while cold water will not properly clean the pillow.

STEP 3. Add one tablespoon of washing detergent for each pillow you are planning to clean by hand. Swish the water around, so soap and water create an even mixture.

STEP 4. Put pillows in the water, push them down so they are fully exposed to soapy water.

STEP 5. Then, it’s time to knead and squeeze each pillow one by one. Do it gently, don’t put too much pressure.

STEP 6. Let pillows soak detergent and water for at least half an hour.

STEP 7. Now it’s time to rinse your pillows. Start running the water and keep squeezing the pillow from every side. The purpose here is to squeeze out excess soap. You need to be patient here as it might take several minutes. Keep running the water until there is no soap residue remaining in a pillow.

STEP 8. Hang a pillow under direct sunlight to let it dry for several hours. A quick option is to use a dryer, but it is only recommended for a pillow whose material isn’t too delicate to crumble inside.

STEP 9. Check your pillow for dampness. Press it inside and ensure that it’s dried entirely. The sponge of the memory foam pillow can hold water inside. Be careful, because if you bring the pillow back on the bed without completely drying it, it may lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

How to Wash Pillow in Washing Machine

We put together separate guides for front and top loaders (with/without agitator), so you can pick one guide as per your machine type.

Washing Pillows in a Front Loader

STEP 1. Take off the pillowcase or any additional cover before washing.
STEP 2. Fill your front-loading washer with warm water.
STEP 3. Add 15ml of liquid detergent or one tablespoon of powder washing detergent for every pillow you plan to wash.
STEP 4. Press the Start button, and the machine will do the rest of the hard work for you. Next, please press the Bulky/Large button (if your machine has this option).

STEP 5. After the initial wash and spin cycle, you need to run a second rinse cycle to ensure that all the soap is squeezed out of every pillow.

STEP 6. Put the pillows in the dryer after the rinse cycle. Adjust setting at low or no heat as per pillow’s label and washing instructions. Keep in mind that this setting takes a long time. You can speed up the drying process by adding two big towels alongside pillows.

STEP 7. Wrap tennis or laundry balls inside a clean cloth and then put them inside the dryer so that your pillow remains fluffy and doesn’t dry flat.

STEP 8. Remove pillows from the dryer and air dry them under direct sunlight for at least 5-6 hours.

STEP 9. Once pillows are fully dried, bring them back on your bed.

Washing pillows in a Top Loader

A conventional style of top loader washer has an agitator while an advanced version is designed without an agitator. Let’s find out how you can wash pillows in a Top loader washing machine with and without agitators.

With agitator

If you have a top loader washer or a conventional washing machine with an agitator, you need to be a bit careful while washing your pillows in this washing machine. It’s because if you don’t position the pillow right inside the bowl, the agitator might damage your pillow material.

Here are some steps to follow:

STEP 1. Remove pillow cover and protective case (if any), and then start filling your machine with warm water.

STEP 2. Add one tablespoon of liquid/powder detergent to the water. Let it mix, and then place two pillows in your machine at the same time.

STEP 3. Arrange two pillows vertically around the agitator.

STEP 5. As the agitator is harsh on pillow material, you need to run a short washing cycle in a gentle setting.

STEP 6. Set the machine on a cold water rinse cycle and then spin cycle, so all the excess water and soap are squeezed out from the pillows.

STEP 7. Take two clean tennis or dryer balls, put them in the dryer. They will fluff the pillow filling while speeding up the drying process.

STEP 8. Tumble dry both pillows until they are dried fully . Again, low- or no-heat settings are preferred.

Without an agitator

A high-efficiency top loader washer doesn’t have an agitator, so it consumes less water and wash more stuff at a time. If you have this kind of washing machine at home, here is how to wash your pillows in it.

STEP 1. Remove the pillowcase and zip case as you need to wash the body of the pillow.

STEP 2. Set your washer on the longest cycle. Fill your washer with hot water. Once the water starts filling in, you can add one scoop of regular or liquid washing detergent to it.

STEP 3. As soon as detergent dissolves in water, it’s the right time to place two pillows at the same time in your washer. The purpose of placing two pillows together is to ensure that the washer is balanced and one pillow doesn’t drown so much inside the water.

STEP 4. Turn on the machine, flip both pillows upside down. Keep the lid open and let pillows soaked in water and detergent mixture for an hour to get rid of dirt and some stains.

STEP 5. After an hour, rerun the machine on full cycle.

STEP 6. Once pillows are washed, their drying time begins. Place pillows in the dryer and set

the dryer at low settings for synthetic ones and no-heat settings for feather-filled pillows.

STEP 7. Wrap laundry balls in a clean cloth and then put them inside the dryer, so you get fluffy dry pillows at the end.

STEP 8. Most driers only dry surface material, so you need to check the pillow for dampness. Drying a pillow under direct sunlight is highly recommended. They will kill bacteria and dust mites.

STEP 9. Hang pillows outdoors and let them air-dry for some time. Squeeze them gently after an hour and turn their sides to ensure that they are dried completely

Washing Yellow pillows with Baking Soda

Pillows are prone to spots and stains as they are exposed to sweat, makeup, food, and dirt. So, when your pillows turn yellow or have spots, you can use baking soda for spot cleaning. Besides, baking soda is a natural deodorizer that helps get rid of smell and make your pillow fresh.

Things you’ll need

  • Baking soda
  • Washing detergent
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Towel

STEP 1.Mix baking soda with water in a bowl and make a thick paste.

STEP 2. Dip a towel in this mixture and dab on the pillow surface.

STEP 3. Let it sit for half an hour.

STEP 4. Spot cleaning is done. Now it’s time to clean it all up. For yellow pillows, you will make a mixture of the following ingredients.Take a bowl and mix half a cup of vinegar, one cup of dishwasher detergent, 3/4 cup of baking soda, and three tablespoons of laundry detergent.

STEP 5. Turn the machine on, fill it with normal water and add this mixture. Place your pillows inside and run the first cycle.

STEP 6. Now run a second cycle with warm or hot water to have a sanitizing effect.

STEP 7. After the rinse, place pillows in the dryer and adjust settings on either air-dry or low-heat.

STEP 8. Wrap tennis balls in a clean cloth. Toss inside the dryer.

STEP 9. Place pillows under direct sunlight as this heat is the pillow’s natural disinfectant.

STEP 10. Once pillows are fully dry, please bring them back to your bed.

Washing Yellow pillows with Bleach

You can brighten up your yellow pillows with bleach, which can also kill bacteria and germs. However, before you try this method, you need to ensure that bleach is safe for your pillow material.

Here is a step-by-step guide to follow for washing yellow pillows with bleach:

STEP 1. Take a big bucket and soak your two pillows in a cup of bleach for thirty minutes to an hour.

STEP 2. Fill the machine with warm water and add two tablespoons of mild detergent. You can use hot water to kill the bacteria.

STEP 3. Place two pillows inside your washing machine and run the first cycle. STEP 4. Run the second cycle and rinse.

STEP 5. Put both pillows in the dryer alongside two tennis/laundry balls to prevent clumping and maintain the fluffiness of your pillow.

STEP 6. Check the moisture level in the pillows by squeezing them. Let the pillows air dry for hours.

3 Things to Consider Before Washing Pillows

Are you going to wash your pillows? Please consider these three points, so you can wash pillows without compromising their shapes.

Types of Pillow

There are different types of pillows, and you can’t wash them all by following the same technique.

  •   Memory foam pillows are delicate, so you need to hand wash them to maintain them properly.
  •  You can’t wash the buckwheat pillowcase in warm water as they will shrink. You need to use only cold water and mild detergent for them. You can’t clean the hull as wet hulls will lose support and may require replacement.
  • You can wash down and polyester pillows in a washing machine. It’s essential to wash two pillows at a time, arrange them vertically around an agitator or flat in a machine without an agitator.
  • Hand washing is recommended for latex pillows. Although they are sturdy, they need to dry properly. Else they will become a breeding ground of mold and mildew.

Spot cleaning is recommended for the following pillows:

  •  Gel pillows
  • Shredded foam pillows
  • Memory foam pillow
  • Latex pillows

Handwashing is recommended for the following pillows:

  •  Wool pillows
  • Memory foam pillows
  • Down pillow
  • Feather pillows

Machine Washing is recommended for the following pillows:

  • Shredded foam pillows
  • Polyester fiberfill pillows

You can’t wash buckwheat pillows, and you can only wash its shell.

Care Instructions

span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Before you wash your pillows, kindly check their care instructions. Some brands recommend hand washing, while others offer convenience with machine wash solutions.

Try to find out whether it’s okay to dry a pillow in a low-heat setting or does it have only a no-heat choice. Care instructions are your ultimate guide for washing a pillow, so please get directions from it.

Age of Pillow

Every pillow has its lifespan. You can check a label to determine the expiry date of a pillow. Some pillows have a lifespan of 2 years, while others last longer than that.

When a pillow turns very old, it’s not advised to use it. This is because this pillow won’t provide adequate head and neck support. So, it’s recommended to replace them instead of washing them.

If you don’t know the exact age, perform a simple test. First, fold your pillow in half. If it comes back to its original position, then it’s good to use. Otherwise, buy a new one.

Final Thoughts

Whenever you plan to deep clean your pillows, the best place to start is with their tags and care instructions. When you don’t find any guide or tag that isn’t readable, you can follow the step-by-step guide of washing pillows mentioned above. Always remove stains and spots from the pillow first and then toss them in the machine or bathtub for further cleaning. Washing them won’t take much time but you need to be patient during drying time . As they are bulky and fluffy items, they will take more than one day to dry completely. If you still have some questions and concerns regarding washing your pillows, please feel free to ask. We will be happy to handle your queries efficiently. 


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