You’re used to washing sheets (and hopefully pillowcases), but you may not know how to wash pillows or why you should bother at all. While you sleep, your pillow absorbs dead skin cells, body oils, and sweat, as well as allergens. We know it’s gross, but don’t freak out.
Regularly washing your pillowcases helps combat this, but your pillow still needs to be cleaned often as well. Most pillows should be washed every six months, but others, like memory foam, need attention every two to three months.
Just like you, those pillows of yours need regular care. Take a minute to fluff them up weekly and let them hang outside in the sun every couple of months to get rid of any excess moisture. You should also regularly vacuum your pillows (as you would your mattress). Do this occasionally, but also do it pre-wash to get some of the more surface-level gunk out of your pillow.
Once you’ve vacuumed your pillows, you might want to spot clean if there are visible marks. This can be done with a regular dish towel and a mild soap solution. Gently scrub out the stains, taking extra care with foam pillows as you don’t want them to tear.
Spot cleaning blood out of a pillow is a bit different. If this happens, clean them similar to how you’d wash blood out of a sheet.
Many pillows will survive in a washer, but they need slightly different care. Before throwing any pillow in the wash, know what kind of fill it has and inspect the fabric for rips or tears. You won’t want the fill clogging up your washer, trust us.
To avoid unevenly distributed loads, always throw two pillows in at a time. You’ll also want to set the spin speed to a higher setting to remove as much excess water as possible. And as always, check the tags or the company’s website for specific cleaning instructions, like these for Casper pillows.
Down pillows are fairly simple to wash. They can be cleaned in a washing machine at any temperature, but be aware that warm and hot water can potentially shrink the fabric. Use a mild powder soap and add an extra rinse cycle to rid your pillows of remaining soap.
Feather and down pillows generally can be washed the same way. Any temperature can be used in the washing machine, but a colder temperature is recommended to avoid fabric shrinkage. Use a gentle setting and extra rinse cycle to remove leftover suds.
Because liquid ruins buckwheat hulls, the hulls themselves shouldn’t be placed in the washer. To clean the cover, remove the buckwheat hulls and place them in a large tub. Be aware of any special instructions on the cover’s tag before placing it in the washer. To care for the buckwheat, place them evenly on a baking sheet or something similar and move to a windowsill or outside for the sun to dry out any moisture within.
While memory foam can be a lifesaver for some during the night, they need a little extra TLC when it comes to cleaning. Avoid the washer and instead opt for hand-washing or vacuuming and spot treating. Hand-washing is best done by filling your bathtub with water and a mild, low suds detergent. Submerge the pillow and allow the water and soap solution to seep all the way through. Rinsing can be done the same way.
Feather and down pillows can both be dried in a dryer on a no-heat, air-dry setting or tumble-dry low setting. Use tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff the pillows and prevent clumping. Pillows that can’t be dried in a dryer, like memory foam, should be air-dried. If possible, let them hang on a clothesline outside (but only when it’s not humid).
Allow your pillows to dry completely before using them again. If you’re unsure if your pillow is thoroughly dry, follow the age-old saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry,” and let it dry out longer. If you do end up using a wet or damp pillow, you risk mildew.
No matter the method you use, drying your pillows can take several hours. Check in every hour or so to see if they need to dry out longer. Squeeze each pillow one at a time to feel for any dampness as you go.
If you’ve just finished washing your pillow and it still has the same odors it had before washing, it’s time to toss. Old pillows that stay folded in half without your assistance also indicate it’s time for a replacement.
Pillows that didn’t smell before washing but began to afterward probably weren’t dried long enough. Wash it again and let it dry for a longer period of time. To extend the life of your pillows, use a cover under your pillowcase and wash both regularly.
Now that you know how to wash pillows, it’s time to add them to your cleaning schedule and reap the benefits. If your washing machine is big enough to handle it all in one go, throw your sheets and pillowcases in the wash together and get ready for the best sleep of your life.
If it’s time to start looking for a new pillow but you’re not sure what to get, try out our Original Casper Pillow for the ultimate night’s sleep.