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The Ultimate Guide to Washing Pillows, Blankets, and other Bedding

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How to wash bedding

You spent a lot of time creating your perfect bed. Thanks to a high-quality mattress, comfortable sheets, a cozy top blanket like a down comforter, and supportive pillows, you’re now sleeping on the perfect slumber oasis. If you don’t take care of these products, though, they won’t stay this way for long. Yes, just like your car occasionally needs an oil change and your floors need to be mopped, your bedding needs a little TLC from time to time as well!

How to Wash Bed Pillows 

Wait- can you wash bed pillows? Yes! Not only can you wash your pillows, you really should. Even with a pillow case, your pillow eventually gets, well- 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. 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.

A quick note about memory foam or latex pillows: These can’t be washed because they’re not supposed to be soaking wet. Your best bet is to spot treat any stains, preferably as they happen. In order to avoid the need for a deep clean, use a pillow protector to extend its life.

How Often Should I Clean Pillows? 

You should wash most pillows, expect for the latex and memory foam pillows mentioned above, about twice a year. If a stain happens, spot treat it right away and throw it in the washing machine an additional time if it doesn’t come out. No matter what material pillow you have, make sure you’re always following care label instructions. 

How to Dry a Pillow

Now you know how to wash bed pillows. What about drying? It’s crucial to get the pillow completely dry. Otherwise, you risk nasty mildew growth inside. This isn’t the time to be as eco-friendly as possible. 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. 

Whichever drying technique you decide to use, be sure to check for moisture inside the pillow before you make the bed back up.

How to Wash Bed Sheets and Blankets in the Machine 

How often should you wash your bed sheets? Most people should wash their sheets once per week. You may need to do it even more often than this if you sweat while you sleep and don’t yet have a temperature-regulating mattress. Since you will be washing bed sheets so often, it’s good news that it’s very simple to do. White and light-colored cotton sheets wash well in any water temperature. To keep darker colored sheets from fading, use cool water to wash and rinse.

That being said, read all labels before washing bed sheets to be sure you don't have any specific cleaning requirements to follow. Some require you to know what setting to wash bed sheets on. For instance, you’ll always want to wash your tencel sheets in cold water and on the gentle cycle no matter what color they are. Also, use a mild detergent in order to avoid premature breakdown of the fibers. Avoid using bleach, no matter what material sheets or linens you are washing.

Washing Blankets by Hand 

There are certain occasions where you may decide to wash a blanket by hand. If your blanket is quite large, like a king size down comforter or a weighted blanket over 20 pounds, you’ll need to clean it without the use of your washing machine. Fill your bathtub with water and mild detergent. Then add the blanket, swishing it through the water. Soak the blanket for up to 30 minutes, and only that long if it is very soiled. Drain the water and gently press out excess sudsy water. Fill the tub again with cool water. Swish the blanket around. Drain, rinse again, and repeat until all the soap is gone and the water is clear. 

You now know how often you should wash bed sheets, the reasons your pillows need to be washed, how to wash bed pillows, and more! Many sleepers spend hours of time and hundreds if not thousands of dollars finding their favorite bedding essentials and then treat them like an afterthought once they have them. Don’t do this! Keeping your pillows, sheets, blankets, and other bedding essentials totally clean is the best way to ensure you’re as healthy as possible and they last as long as possible. Your future self will thank you!

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