How To

How to wash pillows so they are like brand-new

By Luke Carlino

Updated: August 24th, 2021

Unfortunately, just cleaning the pillowcase is not enough., find out why!

We all know how great the feeling of laying down in fresh, clean sheets is but is there a part of you that knows you skipped out on washing the actual pillow? It’s actually easier to go the extra mile with your clean than you may think. Cleaning your pillows is the only way to achieve the cleanest, comfiest bed of all time, and this article is here to get you into bed nirvana.

Clean, when talking about pillows, also means hygienic, which is very important. Pillows can be home to a lot of bacteria due to dead skin cells, body oils, dust and more which can lead to potential skin and respiratory issues.

Ideally, you’ll give your pillows a good wash every 3-5 months, and if you follow the helpful steps below, you’ll avoid damaging the material or stitching. There are two primary ways to wash your pillows; by hand or in the washing machine. Read on to see which best suits you!

How to wash memory foam pillows (washing by hand)

Not all pillows are capable of handling the vigour of the washing machine and dryer, in particular, your memory foam pillows. Popping them in the wash leads to lumpy, unusable clumps, and when you consider the price tag of a memory foam pillow, we strongly recommend washing by hand with the following steps:

Step 1: Dusting off

Unfortunately, our pillowcases fail to completely prevent various elements from penetrating the pillow. Start by dusting off most of the debris from your pillow with a forceful pat. This sets the scene for a more effective clean (rhymed on purpose).

Step 2: The soak

Soak your pillow in some hot water with laundry detergent via a large basin or tub so you can fully submerge it. Two tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent are the right amount for one pillow in a water temperature of 40-45 C. 

Step 3: Washing

Let the water cool down, then begin the process of handwashing the pillow. Throughout this process, you’ll need to drain and refill the tub with fresh water and detergent a couple of times for an effective clean. Use room temperature water so as not to burn your hands. The technique to wash your memory foam pillow is as follows:

      • Press down softly on different areas of the pillow with your palms
      • Kneed the pillow gently and avoid folding or twisting 
      • Gently squeeze out to the corners and ends of the pillow and flip a few times while washing
      • Rinse out the tub before each refill
A collection of pillows

Step 4: Rinsing

Remove all of the detergents from your pillow to avoid skin and eye irritation. Rinse it out your thoroughly under running water, gently squeezing it to remove all of the detergents. When you are confident that the detergent is gone, refill the tub with clean water and pop the pillow in, gently pressing down on it to get any remaining suds. 

Step 5: Drying

Your memory foam pillow won’t be able to handle a dryer any more than it can a washer, which means air drying out in the sun is the way to go. If there is no sun, aim for a fan or a well-ventilated room. You can help the process along by gently squeezing out as much of the water as you can and fliping the pillow every couple of hours to ensure both sides dry. Always rest your pillow on a clothes rack or something similar, and never hang it with pegs as this will cause the memory foam to become uneven.

How to wash latex pillows

Latex pillows are hypoallergenic and highly resistant to harmful elements such as mildew and dust mites. Much like memory foam pillows, they should not be washed in the washing machines or popped in the dryer. It is also important that you do not soak latex pillows in water or let them sit in direct sunlight. 

Always hand wash sticking to the following steps:

  1. Remove pillow case and pop that in the machine wash
  2. Fill a tub or sink with lukewarm water
  3. Add a mild detergent
  4. Soak a clean towel in the mixture 
  5. Wring the towel dry
  6. Blot the pillow with the towel, specifically any areas with stains
  7. Place fresh towels on the two sides of the pillow then press down on them to get the excess moisture
  8. Air dry flat 
  9. Cover with a clean pillowcase
Kids pillow fighting
Allen Taylor

How do you wash down pillows in the washing machine?

For Synthetic, Down, and Cotton Pillows, a washing machine is a suitable option which will save you a lot of time and effort; but it is important to note this can still be done incorrectly. Follow these steps to ensure you do not damage your pillows during the wash:

Step 1: Using the right amount of detergent

You’ll need hot water and one cup of laundry detergent to wash up to four pillows, although normal sized washing machines can only really handle two pillows at a time. If there are stains, you can add a cup of bleach or household ammonia along with half a cup of dishwashing detergent. 

Step 2: The machine setting

The recommended cycle for your pillows is whatever the longest option on your machine is with preferably at least two rinses. Opt for a hot water cycle to achieve a deeper clean.

Step 3: Flip and wash again

If possible, stop your machine after it has drained out the first wash so you can flip and adjust the pillows. This is not essential, and sometimes not possible depending on how the cycle of your machine runs, but if you are able to do it, you’ll get a more thorough, all-round clean. 

Step 4: Dry in the Dryer

These pillows will be fine for use in a dryer if you have one. Opt for the ‘air’ setting if available or the lowest heat option. Synthetic pillows can handle a little more heat if you want to speed up the process. Set the dryer to the shortest time available to remove excess water then allow them to air dry for their final stages.

Frequently asked questions

How often should you wash pillows?

It is a good idea to give your pillows a good wash every 3-5 months and pillowcases far more regularly with the rest of your bedding. Pillows can house a lot of bacteria due to dead skin cells, body oils, dust and more which can lead to potential skin and respiratory issues. This makes the act of cleaning them vital to ensure they are also hygienic.

Can you put travel pillows in the washing machine?

As long as you do not own a travel pillow made of memory foam, you can wash it in a machine. Use the low-spin or delicate setting when popping travel pillows into the washing machine and opt for cold water with a mild detergent. It is also important to avoid allowing the pillow to sit for too long when the cycle is done, or you risk it losing its shape. For this same reason, avoid the high-spin setting as well.

What kind of pillows can you wash?

All pillows can be washed; there is just a different process that is suitable for each type of pillow material. Memory foam pillows should be washed by hand, all other pillows, including Synthetic, Down, and Cotton can be washed either by hand or in the washing machine.

Is it safe to wash pillows in the washing machine?

Yes, but only if they are Synthetic, Down, or Cotton. Memory Foam Pillows should not be put in the washing machine. For those that can be, however, a machine is a suitable option which will save you a lot of time and effort. Opt for hot water and one cup of laundry detergent to wash up to four pillows, although normal sized washing machines should only wash two pillows at a time to maintain their balance. The recommended cycle for your pillows is whatever the longest option on your machine is with preferably at least two rinses. 

Get ready for the cleanest, comfiest bed ever!

While it can take some time, the importance of keeping your pillows clean is very high, and you’ll enjoy a much better night’s sleep once you have put in the effort.

If you are pressed for time, however, there are many taskers who offer high-quality laundry services to help you with not only your bedding but clothing as well.

If this article if just one small step in your quest to become a master cleaner, however, do not stop here! We have a range of other articles that can help you ensure everything is cleaned and cleaned properly. Have a read of our article on how to hand wash your clothing and our piece that will help you get a range of oil stains out of your clothes. We also have a design blog that will help you with a range of laundry ideas to achieve both a functional space with great storage and something that is aesthetically pleasing as well. 


Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

Enjoyed reading this? Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *