If you’re like most people, you wash your linens and other bed sheets pretty often. You know this bedding gets dirt, oils, sweat, and other stains on it. This includes washing your pillow case, of course, which takes much of the brunt of an oily face as you sleep on it every night. What about the pillow itself, though? Most people keep their pillows for at least a few years. Is it possible that dirt, germs, and other grime get through the pillow case to the pillow itself? And if so, is there anything you can do about it?
Why Should You Wash your Pillow?
It’s no secret just how gross your bedding can get. Those with sensitivities, allergies, or who simply want to keep their bed as clean as possible may wonder what the best way is to care for their pillows. Do you wash them? Not only can you wash your pillows, you really should. Even with a pillow case, your pillow eventually gets dirty. Most people do not realize that their pillows can harbor lots of gross things that build up over time, including oils, saliva, sweat, bacteria, mold, and even fungi. These things can break down the fill in your pillows, causing them to lose the ability to give the support your head and neck need.
How to Wash Pillows
Thankfully, washing bed pillows isn't difficult at all! If your pillow has a wet stain that you’re trying to remove, immediately spot treat it with a stain cleaner that targets the type of stain before popping it into the wash. Otherwise, your pillow can go right in the washing machine. If your washing machine is large enough, wash two pillows at a time. Placing one on each side of the machine will help balance the load, allowing the water and detergent to circulate more effectively and keeping it from spinning off its axis.
Put the pillow or pillows in the washing machine and select a gentle cycle with warm water. Add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle if your machine allows you to. This is to make sure there are no remnants of detergent left behind that can cause irritation or break down the filling over time.
Your pillow is all clean! It’s crucial to get the pillow completely dry in order to avoid nasty mildew growth inside. The auto-dry setting on your clothes dryer isn’t recommended for a pillow because the sensors will detect only surface moisture, leaving you with a pillow that’s still damp on the inside. Instead, place the pillows inside the dryer for an hour on moderate heat. When drying down or feather pillows, use the no-heat air-dry setting with dryer balls or tennis balls to break up clumps. This will take a while, but it’s better than ruining your luxury pillows! If the weather is mild, you can also place pillows outside in the sunshine until they’re dried all the way through. Be sure to check for moisture inside the pillow before you make the bed back up.
When to Wash Pillows
While you'll want to wash the rest of your bedding regularly, about once a week or so, your pillows have a bit more of a grace period. At the very least, your bed pillows should undergo a good deep-down clean in your washing machine every six months. If you’re especially concerned about it, every three to four months is okay too.
A quick note before you get started: Most pillows, including those filled with cotton, feather, down, and fiberfill, can be cleaned in a washing machine. However, it's always a good idea to read the label for cleaning instructions first. All pillows come with tags attached by the manufacturer and often include care instructions. Your pillow may be one of the kinds that shouldn’t be thrown in the washing machine. This includes pillows made from memory foam, which isn’t supposed to be saturated wet. In this case, it is best to spot treat any stains, preferably as they happen. In order to avoid the need for a deep wash, use a pillow protector to keep it totally clean.
Once you buy a new pillow, which means one that is both comfortable and supportive, you want to keep it in great shape for several years. This means washing it!