Pillow talk. It’s usually sexy and almost never about how clean or dirty your pillows actually are. We get asked all the time here at the CMS HQ about how to clean pillows properly. Well, I’ve investigated the situation, and have discovered the best way to clean a pillow—an often overlooked cleaning task! There’s also a fairly quick test you can do that’ll let you know when it’s time to replace your pillows. If they do pass the test, then you can use the pillow cleaning method explained below to clean your pillows quickly and easily! Oh, just a quick warning, this may get gross!
If you’re looking to up your cleaning game check out our E-Book Bundle! It gives you three amazing e-books (The Complete Guide to Essential Oils, My 3-Wave Cleaning System, and 50 DIY Cleaning Recipes) and is the perfect gift for any cleaning fanatics out there!
The Pillow Replacement Test
Did you know that your pillow doubles in weight over a span of time from absorbing dust, mold, oil, bacteria, allergens, and dead skin cells when we sleep on them? Oh joy! To test if you need a new pillow simply fold your pillow in half. If it doesn’t bounce back, get rid of it, it’s time for a new pillow. If it springs to life when folded over, it’s still good!
Best Pillow Cleaning Practices
As a general rule, you should wash your pillows 3 times a year, and replace them once every 2 years—unless you take really good care of them and can’t part ways with a pillow you absolutely love! I usually wait until they go on sale, because what department store isn’t having their year’s biggest bargain-basement-blowout sale on the exact weekend you need new pillows?
Fillings, Nothing More Than Fillings…
You can wash polyester and feather-filled pillows the same way. For memory foam or silk pillows, wash them separately and follow product care instructions. You will never be able to get the water out of a memory foam pillow (they are ‘cellular’ and won’t release soap or water) and silk pillows are a whole other scenario. I’ve never met anyone with a silk pillow nor have had the opportunity to clean one so I cannot speak from experience and have not come across any solid information on how to do it. I’d recommend taking the pillow to a dry cleaner.
How To Clean Your Pillows
- Use a gentle detergent that is ideally scent-free.
- Press out as much air as possible before loading it into the washer.
- For top load washers, do 2 at a time for balance (or else you will hear a loud knocking sound coming from your washer and may think there is a monster, Chuckee or Jason in your basement and who the heck needs that additional stress?).
- Front load washers don’t have an agitator so you can do 1-2 per load. Set your machine to run a full cycle using warm water. Run a second spin cycle to help eliminate excess moisture. By removing excess moisture, you’ll help reduce mold growth and any unpleasant odors from developing.
- To dry, take 2 tennis balls and split them into 2 socks. Tie the socks to secure the tennis balls in place. The tennis balls will help beat out excess moisture while putting them in socks will prevent the smell and color of the tennis ball from transferring to your pillows. Put the pillows in the dryer using a low heat setting. It may take a few cycles to fully dry the pillows. Once dry, take a deep smell of the pillow to test if there’s still moisture in the pillow.
BONUS PILLOW CLEANING TIP!
If your pillow smells, add half a cup of baking soda into the wash. If your pillow is musty, moldy or has mildew, throw in some vinegar into the wash cycle.
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[…] strange pro tip from Maker: Cover two tennis balls with socks, tie the end of the socks to keep the balls in place, and then […]
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[…] and allergy-exacerbating dust mites: It’s grim. A Turin Shroud of filth. Your pillow can end up double its original weight due to all the hideousness it picks up, which is a goddamned disgusting […]
[…] (weird) pro tip from Maker: Cover two tennis balls with socks, tie the end of the socks to keep the balls in place, and then […]
[…] bed? I’m going to want to wash all the bedding including the pillows. Here are some tips from Clean My Space for when you should toss and when you should clean your pillows along with tips on cleaning them as […]
I tried to wash my pillows and ended up flooding my apartment. I guess the pillow can fill up with air and sit at the top of the machine. My top loading washing machine has a sensor that can tell when the water is at the top. Because the pillow was there all puffed up at the top, it never sensed the machine was full and kept filling with water. 2nd lesson learned, don’t throw a load in and then leave it unattended…
Wow, you are so right, my friend had a lot of breakouts and after start paying attention to here brownish (yak) pillow and wash it her acne breakouts just gone.
I do believe that when suffering from acne, use medicines as last resort, I recommend all do the same.
Just check on the internet what antibiotic, Accutane and other chemicals do to your body.
To the pillow cleaning solution: even if the pillows don’t smell or aren’t musty/moldy, why not ALWAYS add baking soda & vinegar…for the cleanest, freshest pillows!?
Thanks for your great ideas & cleaning solutions!
While I do love your ideas could you tell me where your headboard is from. I’ve been looking for a unique one for ages and that looks perfect. Thanks for sharing all the great tips.
Hi does the pillow test apply to feather pillows?
I have a huge problem with my 7 cats. They have decided to use my house as their toilet. They have been banished from coming inside, which upsets me because I luv to cuddle with them, but, for the sake of our health and higiene …. Is there anything I can use to get rid of that urine smell and also prevent them from coming inside to use it as a toilet.
Thank you so much.
Hi Maica, So sorry to hear about your kitty troubles! Here’s a pet stain remover that will take care of odors from accidents that happen on carpets/rubs: https://cleanmyspace.com/pet-stain-carpet-cleaner/
You can also try out these recipes for natural homemade deodorizers: https://cleanmyspace.com/diy-natural-home-deodorizers-air-fresheners/
As for ways to stop them having accidents, I think that’s probably a good question for your vet.
Good luck 🙂
Great video! Off to get some new pillows! ????????????????
Any ideas for cleaning hull pillows? Sort of like beanbag but natural?
Every time I have washed pillows they came out lumpy and I can’t use them any more.
I have had lumpy results as well. I wish I had a solution for you, Victoria! Maybe Melissa will have a solution!
I read somewhere before if you take a needle and thread and put a stitch through the middle of the pillow before you wash it, it will not get lumpy. Every time I have done this it has worked.
Very informative, thank you for sharing… two thumbs up or even more
What if you don’t own a dryer?
What if your pillow is not the King size like you had… and folding it in half will make it pop open just because its small… is there another method?
I don’t know about memory foam being so close to my face. I tend to fear off-gassing of this rather nasty stuff (read up on what memory foam is made of). Cured memory foam is not so bad but it takes a year to do so. So I buy the pillows and just wait a year to use them. Keep them in a well ventilated space and simply wait. Nothing is too good for my kids and protecting them from toxins is my duty.
You are so right about memory foam. I changed both my mattress and pillows to natural latex last year and they are fabulous. Natural, clean, they dont sweat the life out of you and no need for the nasty chemicals used to fire retardant either x
Mellissa, I love your cleaning ideas! I have a small beauty shop on my lanai here in FL, & my customers pass thru my hm to get to my shop & I love to here them say my house looks & smells good, so your tips are marvelous for me! Thanks so , so, so, much!
Aha! So simple! Thanks Melissa!
Ah HA!! It’s time for a trip to the pillow store. Your advice is ALWAYS so factual and fun. You are simply the best Melissa. Do you have any tricks on how to keep your white bed sheets and pillow cases white (eco-friendly of course)?
As i said love melissa on your site…. want to share but i dont see it on my tablet….please show me and put the link up… thank you
I love this site and everything o how to care for your neglected pillow…omgosh what an eye opener
I like the video…
How can I wash afeather pillow???
How to remove black marker off a lacquered finish wood piano?
Try going over the mark with a dry erase marker then immediately wipe it off with a tissue or paper towel. Sometimes this works to remove permanent marker.
Fastidious answer back in return of this issue with real arguments and telling the whole thing regarding that.
Appreciate the information. Thanks will try now.
The mattress and pillow video were great. However it did not tell how to clean foam pillows, the kind with a million holes in them. They are very comfortable but even with a pillow cover and pillow case they start to smell like my husband’s oily face and scalp. These pillows are very expensive so would like to prolong the life of them.
I don’t think the pillow test works. After watching your video, I demonstrated it to my husband so I could convince him that we needed new pillows. We have had these pillows since 2006 and were probably only washed twice when my daughter peed on them. Last time they were washed was a couple years ago. However, when I folded the pillows, they sprang to life and unfolded itself. Needless to say, my husband still doesn’t think we need new pillows, since they are broken in perfectly according to him. I do double up on the pillow liners, so . . . don’t know if that kept it clean???
I’m a 49 year old mother of one daughter and I NEVER knew how to clean & when to toss out my pillow! Thank you so much! I Tested my pillows and I’ll spare you the details, but I’m heading out this evening to REPLACE those that didn’t pass the TEST. Very clever website & I’ll be back for sure!
How do you wash shredded memory foam?
If you want to get all the water out of a foam pillow put it in a space bag & using a shop vacume suck all the water out–fluff pillow & repeat till you feel that the water is out then dry as usual.
I was just wondering about washing pillows. I have done this a couple of times. They always get really bunched up and lumpy. This has kept me from continuing to wash them. How can I avoid this? TIA
i just followed all your instructions and it destoryed my memory foam pillow.
What wash cycle should I use? Gentle? Normal? Bedding? Sorry if this was already answered in the comments section. I scrolled through but there are about a million of them!!!
I just replace my pillows each New Year in the sales, that way I’m sure they are fine
Should you wash new pillows before using the or will they be fine? These were purchased within a plastic cover. I am just weird about using anything before washing it
Melissa! Love your site, and the video! After reading thru all the comments, tho’ … I find that you did not answer one question several asked. Because my front load washer *locks tight* right after settings are selected/it starts ~ and I’m *really* not able to put the baking soda and/or vinegar into the liquid detergent dispenser ~ I need to know if it’s okay to sprinkle and pour those directly on/around the pillows as they are loaded? I see no alternative … I don’t have any way to “dilute” the products in the water. This is a problem I’ve found w/this front load machine … a design flaw, that has presented other issues for me (dyeing, etc.) … !!!
Hi, how do I clean a gel top pillow? One of those one’s designed to stay cool…
Could you please advise on my current ‘problem’…I have 3 x 100% polyester accent pillows (very fine & silky material) for a bedroom set. The instructions say no dry cleaning, but state spot clean only…there is no letter designation on the tag. I have a bottle of “Dry Cleaner” all purpose stain remover with the only ingredient listed being chlorinated solvent. I am very nervous about trying it on the few grease-like stains on the pillows as there is no hidden bit of material to test the result. Please — any advice on this…I have only had this bed set for 2 years and adore it…thanks!!
Great idea for washing pillows
I have had trouble getting hair oil out of pillows AND mostly pillow cases. Seriously, they had become so smelly they stunk up the whole linen closet. I took to using Mean Green or LA’s Awesome Cleaner from the dollar store prior to washing. It does the trick. You can also spray it on the discolored spots on the pillows prior to machine washing. I had tried vinegar, baking soda, bleach, etc and nothing worked as good. I try to buy white pillow cases so I don’t risk discoloring. I also think it’s important to rotate your sheets and pillow cases in your linen closet to allow air to circulate.
I like the way you enunciate your words it’s cool
very good article….helped me
What do you recommend when washing doesn’t get rid of the dust in the down pillow?
What brand pillows do you recommend?
I bought new pillows (Sleep for success by Dr. Maas) what do I need to do before using…do I wash them, air them out…please advise.
You shouldn’t need to wash them before you’v even used them. Air them by all means (though I didn’t bother airing the down and feather pillows I opted for). I would suggest you put pillow protectors on them, however. These aren’t just for asthma sufferers; they also protect the pillow against natural hair oils, hair conditioners, etc. Also, pillows need to be plumped up every morning to keep them lofted and prolong their life. I’m sure Melissa mentions that here somewhere.
I have a water pillow how would you clean that and dry with out damaging the bladder.
Thank you for your hope.
I must admit I’ve never heard of a water pillow before. But wouldn’t you treat it much as you’d treat a waterbed? I put conditioner in my waterbed’s bladders twice a year and I have a waterproof mattress protector over it (to protect it against body oils). Other than using conditioner in your pillow (and especially if you don’t have a pillow protector over it) wiping it down occasionally with a damp cloth and a mild detergent, and drying it off well, should do the trick.
Hey Melissa Maker, I was wondering my pillows say they are made of cotton and to spot clean only. Do you have any suggestions? Should I wash it the way you suggest for the other pillows in the video? Or should I spot clean them, if so what with? Also, what about cleaning decorative pillows? thanks p.s I love your videos
great video. Thanks.
I need to wash a pillow that doesn’t have a pillow case that removes. (Stupid huh? Its one of those pillows with arm rests that you use on your bed when you want to sit up to watch TV or read.) The fabric is assumingly a cheap one being that I purchased the pillows from Target. Its a fuzzy fabric and the filling is most likely polyster. (Its definitely not foam or down so what else is there, right?) I’d rather hand wash this because I don’t know if my washer’s gentle cycle is gentle enough not to cause clumping.
Is it okay to gently hand wash the entire pillow or is it better to just clean the fabric on the outside of with some kind of detergent and a terry cloth using very little water?
Hi, Melissa, I have a top loading washing machine. Every time I take out my washed clothes, they come with a lot of scum and residu. I have tried all sorts of techinques such as bleach and viniger to clean my maching. Tried all settings and temperatures. Tried different detergents. Nothing worked. What is your suggestion?
Haran, you could be overloading your machine. I find these machines don’t hold as much as the manufacturers claim. But even when I’m careful not to put too much in I occasionally get white stuff on a few of the clothes, especially if some of the clothes are fluffy (brushed) on the inside. I find putting the offending clothes back in the machine for an extra rinse helps. I also find the stuff comes off if I use a “magic” brush on it, and that’s how I deal with it if there isn’t a lot. Hope this helps.
super video, answered all my questions. Off to test my pillows!
Thanks for the great pillow info 🙂
How do I clean pillows that I bought from a pallet of custumer returns and have dirt like soil from being in the pallet in a warehouse?
I have a question
we have a 4 in. memory foam on top of our air mattress, it’s a hunk of form does that hold moisture from our bodies & does it contain mold??
how do you wash a fuzzy body pillow i have two of them and i recently found a few fleas on my cats sooo im washing everything
Hi Melissa, how can I remove a blood stain from a pillow? My son had a nose bleed yesterday. P.S: I think I need to replace my pillows! I didn’t know you should wash them! 🙁
Thank you for all the helpful videos, especially this one! But I was wondering if trick to checking to see if you need to replace the pillows will work on any pillows, regardless of how thin they are and if it still works on pillows that are constantly folded while sleeping?
I really liked your video. But what if I don’t have a dryer? how do I dry my pillows and prevent mildew or mold?
thank you in advance!
Hi there, the care instructions in my pillows say not to wash them in a washing machine with an agitator but it is my only option, I don’t to run my pillows. I’ll appreciate any advice you can give me, thanks!
Some of my pillows get a big lump on one end and I cannot shift the filling to make it even out.
Can i put a cup of bleach in with the pillows
I have the tiny beads that are synthetic from a pillow I purchased when they first came out. I wash my pillow (actually a small square and meant to be more ‘decorative’. It says NOT to put it in the dryer due to a fire threat, but I put mine in on low until some of the moisture is out and then air dry. This is NOT a sobakowa that has seeds/shells in them it is ONLY for the synthetic beads. Added this here in case someone has this kind. I will be devistated when the material wears out because I can’t stand having a pillow behind my neck but need it for the sides. I sleep in a recliner and thus am a back sleeper..
When every I wash my pillows in the washer they don’t go back to there original form they get all balled up on one side. How do I prevent this
Hey Melissa. Great article. Very informative. I really learned a lot from it especially about pillows that it doubles in weight over a span of time from absorbing dust, mold, bacteria, allergens and dead skin when we sleep on them. I love all the tips that you have mentioned. I read an interesting article about choosing the right pillow for you. I think this might help your readers. Let me share it with you. Here’s the link: http://uratex.com.ph/blog/determine-pillow/
What does it mean if the pillow doesn’t spring back?
Melissa, what do you do to dry your pillows if you don’t have a dryer? I’ve always put mine on the clothes line, pegging them the other way after they’ve been out several hours, and putting them out again the following day if they don’t seem dry. Is that not enough?
I don’t have a washing machine. Is there a way to wash pillows without one?
What about a MEMORY PILLOW SAME PROCESS OR DIFFERENT
The person’s name in the video who asked the question was Nicky and you called them Carrie when you signed off. lol
Good information to know though!
[…] Also it’s important to note that many mattress manufacturers strongly recommend using a mattress protector – because stains on your mattress will void your warranty. If you gagged at the thought of a gross mattress, you should also check out our pillow cleaning post and video. […]
Could you give me some room cleaning tips? I’m in desperate need of a clean room. But can’t get in the right head space and don’t know what to start with.
[…] DIY […]
Hi Melissa, my name is Nichole. I have tried to wash my down pillows and regular pillows in my front load washer. It’s not working.:( My washer is brand new. The pillows get really heavy and the washer resets itself while washing because the weight changes. Any suggestions?
If you don’t have tennis balls, could you use clean tennis shoes???
How to know for sure when pillow is dry? Just keep it in for several cycles?
I washed my down pillows in the washer and then put them in the dryer for four cycles with tennis balls. Next day was hot and dry so I hung them up for five hours on the line. You know they are dry when they don’t smell funky anymore. If there is any dampness on the pillows they will smell funky. My pillows are like new, so glad I didn’t throw away.
[…] fanatic. Anything and everything to do with cleaning…she’s got it covered. Watch this video for instructions on how to clean your pillows. It worked so well for me. I was very impressed. My […]
I have a front load washer and dryer. you said to put vinegar or baking soda in if the pillows have an odor, Do I put it directly in washer or where I put the detergent in ?
[…] DIY […]
Hey great post! I was wondering how you would clean different fabric pillows such as silk, etc. i always get weary putting them in the wash because of the colors and I fear that they will become less fluffy. i have been leaving them outdoors in direct sun and that seems to help alot but they still seem to have a musky smell to them. Wondering how you would clean them? They work GREAT as decor pillows but i always wonder how to wash them. Thanks and great article!
I scanned the comments and couldn’t find…where/how do I add vinegar OR baking soda to a front loading washer? THANKS! Excited for laundry for once 🙂
Thank you for the good tips! How would you clean a latex foam rubber pillow if it says only to use a damp cloth? How long would you recommend keeping the pillow if it has several cases inclosing the pillow? Thanks so much!
Would your pillow washing tips also apply to feather duvets?
I have a silk pillow. I have it dry cleaned 2x a year along with my silk filled comforter.
I have a Sobakowa (buckwheat) pillow. So I have to empty the contents out before I wash it? I would assume that can’t be put in the washer.
I also put bleach in with the load. Should I not use bleach?
I have a “water pillow” – how do I clean that??
Melissa I have a problem with that my husband doesn’t seem to want to get new pillows cause they always seem too fluffy to him so he insists on keeping his pillows for like ever. We have been married 11 years and he still has the same pillows. I have got new ones for me once in a while. What kind of pillow do you suggest I try for him that wont be too fluffy and do you think I should use it for a while my self to break it in so he can be more comfortable. Help I think his pillows are getting too gross!
Melissa; I just did the “pillow folding” test as you suggested and it did not spring back. I literally felt sweat on my face when I imagined all the bacteria and dirt that must have been building up inside it for years, and on which I’ve been sleeping this whole time. I immediately threw the thing away even though I don’t have any spares. It’s OK, I’ll happily sleep with no pillow for a few days until I get a new one.
Thanks for enlightening me (and disgusting me as well, but in a good way :D).
[…] easy vinegar microwave cleaner, tips to clean and revive your mac, a scare-tactic post about the necessity of cleaning pillows and a rockin’ home-made makeup brush […]
Hi there! I tried this twice. The first time I used two regular pillows (polyester stuffing) and the entire process worked really well and they came out smelling nice and clean! However, the second time I used one polyester stuffed pillow and one down pillow that had A LOT of stuffing and was very firm. The down pillow clumped up a lot in the washer (I have a top load washer) and it banged around in the machine and made such a horrible noise my mom got scared that it would break the washer!
My question is this: Do you think this process would work better for my heavier pillows if I went to a laundromat and used one of their huge industrial-strength washers?
PS: Oddly enough I didn’t have this problem at all with the dyer, JUST the washer.
Very creative and informative video!! Thanks!! I have mine in the washer now!
Do you put the tennis balls in the dryer?
Watch the video.
[…] Clean Your Pillows! […]
Good info to have. BUT I more interested in that FABULOUS headboard shown in the pictures (saw one like/similar in a Ty Pennington magazine more than a year ago, but have no idea where it came from). Where was it purchased/mad3?
This question was answered further up in the comments
How do you remove the order in front load washers
To kill allergens you can put your pillow in the freezer. I have severe allergies to dust mites and the allergist told me that. You can also throw other non washable items in the freezer to kill allergens.
Freezing kills dust mites but doesn’t rid the article of allergens. However, drying at high heat is supposed to do both.
What about the temper pedic pillow how do I clean it
Hi! I’m from South America, Not all of uss have dryer here…. How can we dry our pillows after the washing mashines so they don’t get moisty or smelly. Thanks!
Great info!! How do you dispose of an old pillow? Any way to reduce reuse recycle?… Or any pillows that have a lifetime shelf life?
I’ve seen examples on Pinterest of people making no-sew dog beds and stuffing them with old pillows for their local animal shelter.
[…] Clean! …so boring yet so important! After stumbling upon this video from Melissa Maker… I got inspired to clean! (Great gal who created her own space / publicity on the […]
GOOD ADVISE AND AWESOME PRESENTATION ! PLAIN, SIMPLE AND TO THE POINT! THANK YOU !
I just washed our two feather filled pillows and they came out smelling TERRIBLE! I washed them a second time with vinegar and baking soda exactly like you said…they still have a musty smell. HELP! I don’t want to throw them away:( Any advice?
I’ve heard this happens with down pillows. Apparently, the smell goes away when the pillows dry.
Can I put vinegar or baking soda in front loading washers ? If so , do I put directly in the washer or where I put my detergent in ?
You can put baking soda in the detergent area, the same way you would powdered detergent. Put vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser so it will release in the rinse cycle.
I never knew any of that. That was worth watching,
[…] Clean Your Pillows! […]
[…] and wall creases. Strip the bed and put the sheets outside the door to wash later. Replace or clean your pillows. Throw any curtains in the wash pile if they are washable. Take everything off any shelves, […]
[…] Wash Pillows […]
[…] Clean Your Pillows […]
I have a brand new washer and dryer (front loading) I washed 2 pillows. One at a time. They balled up inside the case (not a pillow case but you know the case that’s sewn around it. The balled up inside and were turned around and so lumpy they were un fixable.
[…] and looks great!) -Cleaned the blinds with a sock soaked in vinegar/water (results were just ok) -Cleaned our pillows (noticed a big difference afterwards) -Cleaned our toilet with baking soda and with a Magic Eraser, […]
How do you wash the pillows picks that you suggest?
I just referenced your website on my blog. You have great tips on washing pillows and I had a question come in about them. I referred them to this post. Great ideas!
Down filling is feathers of various types & sizes — and, YES, you can wash them in your washing machine. You will want to “fluff” them during drying times.
I wash my pillows frequently, and have never put them in a dryer. I just wait for a very sunny, dry day, when I will be home all day, and then lay them propped on a chair (so the back is not flat on the surface, but has air moving behind it), put in the sunniest, hottest spot I can find; then I spend all day going out every hour or two, and flipping the pillow to the side that is damp again. By the end of the day, I find it is perfectly dry, and I have never had issues with residual dampness causing mold (I live in Hawaii, where the humidity levels are so high, if you stand still long enough, you WILL spawn mildew!), which I would be able to smell due to allergies. 🙂
I use Leaping Sheep wool dryer balls….thye are the best! Ive had mine for over two years and they are like new!!
[…] https://cleanmyspace.com/clean-your-pillows/ […]
Hello, I don’t have a dryer machine and allways hang my clothes to dry. I would do this for my pillows too, except that I’m afraid to ruin them and end up having to buy new ones… So, is it possible to let pillows air-dry instead of put them in the dryer machine?
I found this link through Pinterest and was hesitant to actually wash our down pillows. We’ve had them for six years, and they’re so comfy plus the tag says surface clean only. However, even with the pillow protectors, the pillows themselves have become dirty. I experimented on one pillow today, and it took about 3 tries in the dryer, but it’s clean and refreshed. Thank you for sharing your tips! I can’t wait to wash the rest of our pillows.
[…] Clean My Space: Clean Your Pillows! […]
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I just recently got “MyPillow” pillows which are meant to be washed and dried and I love them. I’ve washed them a couple of times already and they have come out amazing. They have a 10 year life I think. I was tired of having to throw out my pillows after trying to wash them and dry them and them being a bit clumpy after.
So I just washed my pillows and they turned out great! Thanks so much for all the tips! On to my next project : any tips for cleaning a down comforter? Directions say warm wash and gentle dry but I don’t wanna screw it up. Thanks again!
Kelli, if the comforter is sewn-through, there’s not too much of any issues. If it has baffles, then you need to be very careful when washing it in a top-loading washer. The agitation can rip the baffles. So take it to a laundromat that has the large capacity front-loading machines.
Thank you Linda! I forgot to mention that I have a front loading washer and dryer. I will try it.
When you get a new pillow, weigh it. write it down. And weigh it every 2 months or so to see how much it is “gaining weight” from dust and dead skin and yuck…
After washing, to make sure your pillow is dry… weigh it before you wash it and after you dry it.
it will come out of the washer much heaver than it went in, as water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. Weigh it when it comes out of the dryer, and if it is heavier than its “before” weight, it is not dry. Keep drying it until it is pretty close to its “new” weight or halfway between its “new” weight and “before washing” weight. Washing is not going to get rid of *all* the dust and dead skin, some of it will remain within the filler, but it *will* be clean dust and dead skin… So take that into consideration as you are drying it, because it probably won’t ever be its “new” weight again.
Are you wondering how to weigh a pillow? I use my kitchen scale. it shows ounces/pounds or grams/kilos, whichever you prefer. put a small empty box on the scale, then put a larger box on top of it like a pizza box. the small box needs to fit on the pad of the scale without obscuring the readout, and the larger box has to be wide enough to support the pillow without the pillow touching the table. when your boxes are in place… zero the scale. then gently place/balance the pillow on top of the boxes and wait for the readout to stabilize. There it is. If you have a good “Doctor’s office” type of scale, use that by all means. a bathroom scale could work, but the readout isn’t as accurate… especially if it is digital because a digital bathroom scale only shows pounds and half pounds, at most. Sorry this is long… but that’s how you’ll know it is dry. You don’t want moisture turning to mold deep in the stuffing. it could be damp inside there, but it would be deep enough that you couldn’t feel it.
Latex foam is not the same as memory foam. I’ve been using a latex foam pillow since I was 9 (before memory foam was invented I’m sure). : ) They are naturally mildew and dust-mite resistant
The best way to wash them is to wet a washcloth (add a bit of mild soap if you want, but I don’t think that’s necessary) and wash the surface only of the pillow. Don’t let it get soaked, and don’t wring them out. Use a nice thick clean towel to blot them dry and then let them air dry the rest of the way. NEVER put them in the dryer. And NEVER use bleach solution on them. Both of those will cause the pillows to become hard and brittle. I’ve also read to avoid drying them in the sun, but no idea what that does. I usually just leave it on my dresser to dry.
I replace mine when they start to get stiff and heavy – usually about 4 years or so. Which reminds me…..
I love this post. I have my pillows in the washer right now and I ws second guessing if I should attempt washing them myself. Now I know I can! Thanks for the tips. Stop by sometime at http://www.domesticingenuity.com.
From one clean gal to another.
[…] How to clean pillows! […]
This post makes me so happy. I’m an avid pillow cleaner!Im a tad obsessive and do it once a month but get, they are clean!
Ive been sick and snuggling with my favorite pillow and it’s round body pillow…I know I probably can’t wash it but is there anyway I can disinfect it or clean it somehow?
How do you fold fitted sheets? I have seen it done on something you may have sent me, but I have not been able to find it again.
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I don’t have any tennis balls. Would it be okay to dry without them?
[…] Reality Check – WASH your pillows! Your pillow doubles in weight over a span of time from absorbing […]
I run feathered pillows in the dryer on air fluff occasionally to help keep them fresh and fluffy. I have never washed my feathered pillow myself but have taken them to the dry cleaners; for an additional fee they will refill them with more feathers. I also keep my pillows in a protective case and use silver threaded pillow cases from Sleep No. Store. Silver threaded pillow cases help whisk away moisture. I wasn’t confident enough to try washing them myself, but perhaps now I will.
If you have a memory foam or other dense pillow that doesn’t release water easily, fill a small spray bottle with 91% rubbing alcohol and spray your pillows. While this may not make the pillow look visually cleaner, it does disinfect it. One should always use an extra zippered pillow protecter over the pillow and that should be washed in hot water on a regular basis. I use on of the anti-dust mite variety, costly but worth the extra money for peace of mind. Pillows are breeding grounds for a variety of harmful bacteria and nasty organisms that are just waiting to make your life miserable!
How do I clean a tempur medic pillows ??
Any suggestion ?
We have king feather pillows. When I fold them over they do not bounce back. Are they supposed to?
What about body pillows? Is the test the same?
I live in Norway and it is very common here to hang both the duvets and pillows outside to air. This is done frequently, both in summer and winter. Bedclothes smell very fresh after being aired for a couple of hours.
Thanks for the cleaning tips!
[…] Umm…I had NO IDEA I was supposed to do this! via Clean My Space […]
I don’t know what kind of pillow I have the tag got ripped off it says medium??
I don’t have tennis balls.. is there anything else I can use?
I am on board with the last two comments, I don’t have a dryer (I live in Korea, and dryers are taboo for some reason!)… but it’s getting cold, and I dry my clothes in my living room… will this work?!
Hi I live in Barbados and we hang dry all our clothes no dryer. I think hanging them outside would work just as well just shake them out and pin them up . going to try it myself. mind you my washer has no agitator and its a top loader so they should be fine.
Hi Melissa~~Love your site! About drying the pillows outside……….I live in las Vegas, Nv. where the temps go past 100 sometimes upwards of 115° during the summers. What about drying them outside when the temps are so hot?
this is great info, thanks melissa for sharing!!
-i have always (at some point) had to wash my pillows in the washer. however, i have never ever put them in the dryer.. i guess i thought it would make it even more lumpy than it is straight out of the washer. So i just try to bang out the lumps and let it air dry slowly in my laundry room…
Ive seen the warnings of mildew and mold several times in the comments. What kind of danger have I been putting my family in all of this time!? Please Help! Thanks.
Hello, could this be done on the D Core Cervical Support Pillow type pillows. The ones you can get from your chiropractor? This is what I have and not sure if I can throw it in the washer or not
wash silk pillows with shampoo. they are made of protein like hair and to keep the protein clean and undamaged use a good shampoo.
[…] Clean bed pillows. This was pretty easy and my pillows definitely look and feel cleaner. HOWEVER – they are […]
I was wondering if you can stick more than two pillows in the washer at once? I have several pillows, and none are nearly as large as the ones in your video.
Hi, there. Thanks for the ideas!
I just want to let you know that I read the article AND the comments so. I will not be asking you to repeat yourself for the 89th time about latex and lumps.
Seriously, people. READ first. She isn’t a paid customer service rep. Just be grateful for the info!
My sentiments exactly. Why can’t people read the comments first before reasking and reasking the same question a zillion times.
AND most of these pillows came with cleaning instructions when you purchased them.
i was told by my husbands allergist that in order to get rid of dust mites you need to hard freeze the pillows after drying and that is the only way to kill them. I wash and his pillows about once a month then stick them in the chest freezer for 24hrs. (normally do this when he is away at the other house)
What about pillows made with real lamb fur.
Amazing. Great video and explanation. You are my new cleaning guru. And I’m all about the cleaning!
be careful! I washed my pillows recently and all they did was hold a ton of water until i had to slit them and drain it all out. it was a horrible mess. im afraid to try my new ones!
Great video! We shared it on our Facebook page: facebook.com/IsntThisClever
What about washing gel filled pillows???
I also want to know how to wash my gel pillows..or even if it’s possible without ruining them..some of them have protectors on them and some do not! But these pillows are amazing!’
I’ve washed my pillows like this several times and every time I put one in the washing machine it comes out like a clumpy jigsaw, they never come out the same shape as they went in regardless of what I put in with them and its almost impossible to readjust the inside of the pillow through the fabric lining. I now forget the washing, use pillow protectors which get washed every week and throw them away once they lose their spring or lose their whiteness!
A pillow protector is a great option for people who don’t want to wash pillows!
I wanna do this, I’m just afraid my favorite pillow is going to get lumpy??
I don’t know – mine were OK…
Hi, I have polyester fiber pillows and all the fluff inside seems to be bunching up. I don’t think we have had them for more than 2 years but should i just replace them or is there a way to fix this?
Hi there, you can try beating up the pillows (LOL) AKA fluffing them, and if that doesn’t work then yes, they aren’t too expensive. Replace!
Question: I live in a very sunny, dry country, can the pillows be dried in the sun?
I would really just let it dry in the dryer…because you don’t want any mildew or mold forming.
Latex foam is not at all the same thing as memory foam (which is Tempurpedic). I’m curious as to how to wash latex foam as that’s what my pillow is.
Also, for those using tennis balls in the dryer, I have read studies saying that’s not recommended because the chemicals used in making them can give off toxins when heated (such as in a dryer). The wood dryer balls, or even tightly compressed balls of aluminum foil, work better and you don’t have to worry about toxins or the smell of hot tennis ball.
Hi Krista, that’s good to know. Dryer balls work just as well as the tennis balls…and I didn’t know the part about giving off fumes. Anyway, I believe any foam pillow, latex or otherwise, would have issue with releasing all moisture. I cannot find anything credible on cleaning latex pillows so I don’t want to say one way or the other, but my initial thoughts would be to be cautious and not wash it.
Humans cannot always smell toxens that products like the tennis shoes or tennis balls might give off, but pet birds can die from the toxens they give off. That is why you never ever use teflon cooking pans with pet birds in the house. I have been using dryer balls for years and did away with dryer sheets as they can cause dryer fires. I am going to try wool balls when I get around to making some.
I find this works better than tennis balls and I’ve done this for years……….put an old tennis shoe inside of a tube sock or big enough sock so that its tight around it, or I guess you could tie it. Put that in the dryer with your pillows. Really knocks them around and fluffs them up good. Sometimes when the pillows get really flat (I have down pillows) this really helps. Makes a lot of noise though!
Cool idea! Thanks for sharing it 🙂
Can you wash pillows with the tiny beads for filling…some Japanese name, I can’t remember.
no you can not wash the sobakowa pillows (the pillows with little beans, or beads) with liquid.. but you can place them in the dryer on low heat, with fabric softener sheets tennis balls to refresh them.
Hi. Great article. Just wanted to share that in your “About the Author” section there is a typo. “well-know” is used where “well-knowN” should be : ) Have a great day!
Thanks – I will update that!
50% polyester 50% filling and all their new material is 100% latex foam now ????
I followed your instructions on my feather pillows. When they came out of the dryer they smelled worse than before. I washed them again, with baking soda and vinegar and they still stink. Any suggestions?
Feather pillows take FOREVER to dry. If they still stink when you check, keep drying. I learned that with a down duvet.
I work at a laundromat, and we wash down comforters, etc. for customers. A comforter takes over an hour, on high, to dry, so I suspect that your pillows would take that long, at least.
Down and feather pillows are a challenge to dry but it can be done with patience. It took all day to dry my two. After each dryer cycle ended I took them out and shook them like crazy to break up clumping. I also used tennis balls. It is worth the effort.
They will smell when wet, but smell will go away as they dry.
It has been said that vinegar can damage the washing machines like the rubber gaskets .
What advice to you have regarding keeping the pillow from getting lumpy after washing them? Mine are never the same shape as when I put them in the wash.
Well, you can fluff the pillows…that seems to help. Just beat it up every now and then 😛 a few punches or whacks here and there break up the lumpiness (and can be a great anger release).
Will your pillow get lumpy in the dryer? If so, how do you fix that?
Kristina: the tennis balls work as great agitators to help break up lumps in pillows, so they should not be lumpy after drying. I do the same thing with poly- or down-filled comforters and it works like a charm.
Rachel is right 🙂
I think one of the problem’s with pillow’s getting “LUMPY” in the washer is from over stuffing the washer, When I wash my pillow’s I normally got to the laundry-mat, and I use one of the triple load washer’s, and I still only put in my pillow’s, nothing else, not even the Pillow protector, a set of sheet’s, my electric mattress protector, my regular mattress protector, Comforter nothing, just pillow’s. I got tired of having to replace pillow’s ever 3-4 months, I do wash mine ever 3 months, but a few time’s it had been 4 month’s, ;( since i’d washed them for whatever reason.
I know this is not the topic of this website, but Denise, I noticed that you use -‘s (possessive form) in cases that you are only supposed to use -s (plural form). I thought you might like to know.
did you seriously just point that out…
Where is that beautiful headboard from?!
Brandi, I believe the headboard is from West Elm.
LOL, you know your West Elm! I don’t think they sell it anymore. Shucks Lynn, I was going to say my husband carved it for me in his spare time 😀
Melissa, if your husband HAD actually carved that in his spare time, I’m going to ask if he has a single older brother..lol. Just found your site and already am an avid fan.
I’ve been pinning many of your tips, but reference your site/link in each often along with your name so folks can find out more for themselves.
I sure wish you had a branch of your business in the US. I’ve been doing so much research on cleaning (quick ways, efficient ways, sometimes eco-friendly ways) out of desperation as daughter’s wedding is this coming weekend and I called local services weeks ago to no avail. Business must be great despite economy as only 1 called back & then never followed up.
Since I research data for a living I took the reins in my own hands. Your tips have been so helpful! If you ever start a US branch, just let me know. As frustrated as I am with such poor service from our ‘top recommended’ local services, I just might join with you. At least some of us know that even if you’re busy, it only takes a minute to respond to someone who could be a future customer even if you can’t service them right then.
They do still carry it at West Elm! http://www.westelm.com/products/morocco-headboard-f833/?pkey=cheadboards-bed-frames
Get wool dryer balls, no need for stinky tennis balls! I’ve got 6 in my dryer at all times!
WHERE DO YOU BUY THE WOOL DRYER BALLS. DO THEY HELP THE KEEP THE POLYSTER INSIDE THE PILLOWS FROM ALSO BALLING UP. THIS IS SUCH GREAT INFO. MY PILLOWS ALWAYS COME OUT
June, you can get wool dryer balls on ebay or at most cloth diapering stores!
Just lurking at an old thread here.. but you can make your own wool dryer balls. Just pick up some wool yarn and go at it. Once the ball is the size you like, you put them in some old hose or knee highs, wash them in HOT HOT water ( I throw in with my whites), then toss them in the dryer until they’ve “felted”. Be sure not to get washer friendly wool. This keeps them together when you’re drying clothes. Once they look good and felted, remove them from the knee highs. I leave mine in the dryer all the time. Every week or so, I add a couple of drops of Lavender essential oil for good smelling effects! 🙂
I have one of those pillows with a divit in the center from my chiropractor… would I wash that the same as a normal pillow?
Suzanne, she said every 2 years, not twice a year. And Aub, latex is actually called latex foam so yes….
How do you wash a tempur pedic pillow?
found this video on how to clean temper-pedic foam: http://www.ehow.com/video_4908477_use-wet-dry-vac.html?cp=1&wa%5Fvlsrc=continuous&pid=1&wa%5Fvrid=7c6e0f1c%2De3b3%2D4309%2Da1eb%2D75f1d8c239e7
You still cannot get all the moisture out, even with a wet/dry vac…the concern is that it would retain water and that would lead to mold.
So what if you use one of those protective pillow cases under a regular pillow case? Replacing pillows 2x a year seems so wasteful..
she didnt say replace 2 x a year she said replace every 2 years
I think if you always use the pillow protector under your regular pillow case you should be fine. Like, mine is waterproof and is supposed to keep out mites and allergens. So I just can’t imagine what there would be to clean off of it. I think as long as the protector is intact you should be okay.
A pillow protector is helpful. Test the pillow then, and see if it needs replacing! You now know what to look for.
Would laytex pillows be considered foam? And how do you clean them if you can’t wash them?
You cannot wash a foam pillow…the ‘cellular’ structure of the foam would never allow moisture to escape. You would need to replace them every so often instead. I know that is not the popular thing to say but it is the truth.
You wash it in the tub by squeezing it over and over again until it rinses clear, then you hang it up to dry on both sides. It dries just fine.
True… except her pillow ISN’T made of foam. She cleary stated it was latex and not foam. Don’t worry hun ittle wash just don’t expose it to a heat source cuz it’s rubber.
No latex is derived from rubber, it should be fine on a low heat setting in the wash. DO NOT PUT IT IN THE DRYER it will unfortunately melt or wear out. It’s the same stuff swim suits or spandex is made from.
What about a down pillow? Is that considered a filling?
Hi Angie, down = feathers!