How To Clean Pillows


While you’re probably in the habit of regularly washing your bedsheets and pillowcases or getting them cleaned professionally, you may not pay much attention to what lies beneath; your pillows and your mattress. It’s highly recommended that both need to undergo cleaning at least twice a year.

Over time, hair, dead skin cells, body oils, sweat, and drool build up on your pillow. And, all that gunk and dirt is the stuff that dust mites enjoy munching on, which causes their population to multiply and increases your chances of having an allergic reaction to their presence! Keep reading to learn about out the best ways to keep your pillows clean and crisp.

Caring for Your Pillows

It’s recommended to use two pillowcases or, to invest in a high-quality pillow protector in order to keep dirt and dust mites out. Along with this, memory foam may become damaged by water and broken down if not cleaned the right way. Waterproof pillow protectors or cases are available for you to purchase. Also, its recommended to continuously fluff your pillow on a daily basis in order to get out dust and keep the stuffing from clumping together. You can air them outside or by an open window on a monthly basis to get rid of odors as well.

Remember, how a pillow should undergo cleaning is primarily dependent on its stuffing type and what type of pillow it is. Be sure to always check the care labels instructions to see what the manufacturer recommends. And, if you’re unsure, its best advised to bring your pillows to a reputable cleaners to undergo professional cleaning.

Washing Your Pillows

Dry Clean Only

If the care label reads “Dry clean only,” then you must bring your pillow to a professional dry cleaner, and not wash the pillow at home. Submerging them in water may damage the fill or cover. It’s essential to follow the care labels instructions to ensure that you are giving your pillows the proper care and maintenance.

Spot Clean Only 

Clean spots and stains on the surface of the pillow, rather than washing the entire pillow. If your pillow has a wet stain that you’re trying to remove, spot treat the pillowcase and pillow with a stain cleaner that targets that type of stain before popping it into the wash.

Hand Wash Only

The pillow can be gently washed by hand. This means it can go into the water, however not in the washing machine. Therefore, you must wash the pillow by hand without using a washing machine.

Machine Washable

Pillows that are machine-washable will typically include care instructions on the tag that you can follow. These may include machine washing the pillow on the delicate cycle, or avoiding bleach or harsh detergents that will ruin the material inside of your pillow.

Once you have determined whether or not it’s safe to machine wash them, its best advised to wash in pairs in order to balance out the weight, as they will become heavy with water in the washing machine. Mostly all of your pillow can undergo cleaning in warm water, a gentle cycle, and a small amount of mild detergent. Proper care and cleaning will often depend on the materials used to construct the pillow.

Drying Pillows

It’s crucial to get the pillow completely dry-otherwise you risk mildew. Most can dry for a good hour on moderate heat. Adding a couple of dry towels will speed up the drying process. Toss in two fresh tennis balls or dryer balls into your machine and they’ll keep the filling from clumping as they bounce around the drum.

However, when drying down or feather, however, use the no-heat air-dry setting (it will take a while) and dryer balls or tennis balls to break up clumps. Along with this, if the weather outside is mild, you can hang most pillows on the clothesline until they’re dried all the way through. Whichever drying technique you use, you still need to check for moisture inside the pillow. If none remains, it’s time to make your bed!

Types of Pillows

Down or Feather

Most down pillows can be put in the washing machine. But use cool water and a mild detergent, then dry on low heat. (High temperatures can damage the down.)

Make sure down and feather pillow are completely dry before using or storing. Remember, mildew can grow inside and ruin them!

Memory Foam or Latex

Foam pillows should NOT be machine-washed, as this can cause the foam to crack. Washer agitation can break up foam, so these pillow types will probably need to be hand-washed.

You should never submerge foam pillows in water. They must undergo spot cleaning as needed in order to remove stains and residue. Also, it’s important to check any instructions provided by the manufacturer. In the event the memory foam pillow can be hand washed, special care should still be taken in order to ensure your foam pillow has a long lifespan.

Also, you can vacuum dust off of the pillow, then spot clean with a damp cloth and a small amount of mild detergent. Lastly, lay the pillow flat to air dry.


Wash all polyester pillows with warm water on the gentle cycle, preferably a few at a time to balance the load. Be sparing with the detergent-use about 1 tablespoon of liquid soap.

Always check the care label and follow washing instructions. If the care label is gone, bring it to your reputable dry cleaner to be safe. This way, your polyester pillow can undergo the best cleaning method.

Throw Pillows, Body Pillows, & Specialty Style Pillows

Throw pillows should undergo cleaning every 3 to 6 months. This is highly depending on how frequently they’re being used. Most throw pillows can undergo cleaning with the following guidelines:

First, remove the cover if possible. Then, wash it separately from the pillow itself. Next, lukewarm water and a gentle cycle for throw pillow covers. Never wash this type of pillow in cold water.

If the pillow’s made with fragile materials, hand wash it in warm water and then allow the pillow to air dry as opposed to putting it in the dryer.

Always read the care label for cleaning instructions for any body or neck pillows, or other specialty pillow types. This is where you’ll find out what type of fill’s being used in the pillow, which will allow you to determine which instructions to follow. Keep in mind, many pillows have removable covers that can be machine washed as needed.

How Often to Clean Your Pillows

You must wash your pillows at least two to three times a year. However, some pillow types may require more frequent care. Over time, your bedding items can trap dirt, sweat, oil, and even fungus if left unwashed.

These problems can eventually lead to odors and health concerns. Therefore, it’s super important to ensure that your pillows are getting the proper care and maintenance that they need. Though we recommend changing your pillows every one to two years, the best pillows can last up to five years if they’re being cared for and cleaned in the proper way! Contact Red Hanger today to learn more about how your pillows can undergo professional cleaning. It’s time to get more better, comfier, and peaceful sleep!