How to Wash Pillows

How to Wash Pillows

Pillows tend to be one of those things that are often overlooked in the cleaning process, but they should be cleaned thoroughly at least twice a year. Many pillow manufacturers recommend fluffing your pillows on a daily basis, to improve loft and remove dust that has settled, but beyond that, a good washing is needed at least semi-annually to keep your sleep environment clean, healthy and restful. Here are the details on why it’s important to wash your pillows, the benefits of the process and how to get it done right.

How to Wash Pillows

Is it Really Necessary?

Though it’s not uncommon for people to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on their mattress, the same level of thought is not given to their pillows, partially due to their significantly smaller price tag. However, consider how much time you spend resting on your pillows. If you’re getting the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep every night, that’s a third of your life spent on those pillows! Though you don’t usually have much memory of that time, your body is still reacting to its environment, and the condition and cleanliness of your pillow is a big part of that environment.

Oils from your skin, dead skin cells, dried saliva, sweat, mold, bacteria, dust and fungi can all build up in your pillow if you’re not washing it regularly. If you’re experiencing issues with breathing or allergies when you go to bed, your pillow could quite possibly be the culprit, harboring allergens that are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep. Obviously, regular cleaning of your pillows can make a huge difference in your health and how well you’re sleeping at night.

The Benefits of Regular Pillow Washing

By regularly washing your pillows, you can remove a lot of these materials, allowing you to get a healthy, restful night’s sleep. But are there other benefits? In addition to being more comfortable in bed and sleeping better, cleaning your pillows regularly removes material that can actually cause the material your pillows are made from to break down more quickly.

This means that cleaning your pillows will actually extend their lifespan significantly, saving you the cost and time of finding a good replacement. If you have issues with sleep quality or neck and back issues, you know just how difficult this process can be, so when you find the perfect pillow for your needs, isn’t it important to take good care of it so that it can provide years of quality usage? Absolutely! This is especially true if you need to invest in specialty materials that cost more to begin with.

The Process of Washing Your Pillows

  1. Check the label on your pillow to determine what kind it is and what sort of cleaning it will or will not tolerate well. For down, feather or fiberfill pillows, you can often wash them in a washing machine, while solid foam pillows don’t work well in the washer. If you have a foam pillow, refer to the instructions, but you can often vacuum them with the upholstery brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, and to freshen an older pillow up, sprinkle it liberally with baking soda and let it sit a few hours before vacuuming the baking soda back up. You can also tumble them with no heat in your dryer for about 20 minutes, then surface clean any stains with a mild detergent and rinse carefully with a damp cloth.
  2. For all pillows that can go into the washer, start by checking for any tears, holes or worn areas on the pillow’s surface that the stuffing can pass through. If there are any issues such as these, you’ll want to repair these problem areas before you wash your pillows.
  3. Time to wash! If at all possible, wash at least two pillows at a time to balance out your washer. Try to use a front-loading washing machine or a top-loading washer that does not have an agitator spindle in the center, as your pillows can become wrapped around this spindle and become damaged. If you must wash your pillows in a top-loading washer with an agitator spindle, load your pillows with the short ends at the top and bottom of the washer so that it reduces the chance that the pillow will become wrapped around the spindle.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, if you still have them. However, if the tag has become illegible or has been cut or torn off, it’s usually okay to wash your pillows with a small amount of detergent in warm water using the gentle or delicate cycle. If possible, add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle to get your pillows as clean as possible.
  5. Dry them well. Your pillows are thick, so it’s very easy for them to feel dry on the surface while harboring a lot of moisture in the center. It’s also very easy for them to become a bit lumpy in the wash. For these reasons, it’s important to dry them in an extended tumble on low heat with a few clean tennis balls or similar soft rubber balls in the dryer drum. The agitation caused by the balls prevents any clumps of filling from sticking together and creating uncomfortable bumps in your pillows. In addition, you should periodically stop the dryer, remove the pillows and fluff them by hand, to ensure that any clumps are being broken up well.
  6. Have your pillows come up with a musty smell after they’ve been washed? This may just be due to incomplete drying. Try setting your pillows out in the sun for a few hours, if possible. The fresh air and heat from the sun will dry out any remaining moisture that is causing the musty scent and the sunlight will kill any remaining microorganisms at the surface of the fabric while providing a gentle natural bleaching process.
  7. Time to go? If you can fold your pillow in half and it doesn’t fluff back into its original shape, it’s probably time to plan on replacing those pillows, but try washing first to see if you can gain a little more time before you need to shop for new pillows.

Though washing your pillows can seem like a bit of a process, the improved sleep and comfort you’ll receive in return are well worth the effort. If it seems like cleaning just takes up too much of your time, the experienced professional cleaners at Planet Maids can help! Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to schedule service.