Updated at: 29-09-2022 - By: Jane

When it comes to the cleaning of beddings, there is a pertinent question that is asked, how often should you clean them? There are many schools of thoughts but it is generally agreed that you should wash your bed sheets at least once a week. But the big question is, should you wash your pillow and if so after how long? In this guide, we will be looking at whether you can wash your pillows, how to wash pillows including memory foam pillow and lastly give instructions on how to go about the same. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.


Can You Wash Pillows?

The resounding answer to this question is absolutely yes; in fact you should wash your pillows. But the more important question to ask is why should you wash your pillows in the first place and how often? Well the most popular notion out there is that you should do so twice a year and replace your pillows after eighteen months or one and a half years of usage.

However, there are two major problems with this notion. One, in the real world, most people do not clean their pillows twice a year- in fact even the ones who do so once an year are few and in-between. However, for hygiene purposes, it is recommended that you clean your pillow at least once a year.

Two, the notion to replace the pillow after 18 months is a little misplaced since it will depend on the maintenance and the quality of the pillow. Some pillows will serve you well even after 18 months while others will get out of commission even before the eighteen months are over.

Now That That Is Out Of The Way, Why Should You Clean Your Pillow?

There are three major reasons why you should wash your pillows.

To Get Rid Of Dust Mites

Over time, dust mites do accumulate on your pillow. It is therefore advisable to clean the pillow to get rid of the same. Although dust mites are not the number one health hazard in the world- unless you are allergic to them – it will give you a good night’s sleep to know that your pillow is dust mite free. Additionally, the accumulation of dust mites will eventually compromise the integrity of your pillow.

When the Pillow Gets Stained

Staining the pillow itself is difficult unless it is not covered with a pillow case cover. But life happens and you find yourself in a position where your cat peed on the pillow or you smeared ketchup on your pillow. In such a case, you will definitely have to clean your pillow whether the one year is up or not. You can also decide to cover the stain with a clean pillowcase, but hey, we are talking about cleanliness here, so yeah, you have to wash it. Other stains can come from your sweat, drool and oil from your hair and face.

A Smelly Pillow

You will definitely not enjoy your sweet sleep if your pillow is smelly. Upon further investigation you realise your beloved pillow is the source of the awful smell! At such times, it is paramount that you clean your pillow to eliminate the nasty smell. The smell might be as a result of the accumulation of your body’s sweat. Additionally, some new pillows have a funny smell due to packaging. However this smell disappears after aerating the pillow for a few hours.

Since Now We Are In Agreement That Pillows Should Be Cleaned, Let’s Look At How To Clean Pillows.

First of all what you should do is look at the label on the pillow. Each pillow has a label that specifies how it should be washed. Some pillows can be machine washed while others should only be hand washed. Others can be both hand and machine washed.

Cleaning Different Types of Pillows

There are many types of materials that pillows are made from, they include poly-filled pillows, feather-filled pillows, cotton filled pillows and foam filled pillows among other filling materials.

Poly-Filled Pillows

It is alright to wash poly-filled pillows in the washing machine. For best results, insert two pillows into the washer to help the load get balanced. If you do not want to clean two pillows or don’t have two pillows, you can use towels-they will equally serve the purpose.

If your machine has a centre agitator (which helps in the spinning of the clothes) it is advisable to throw in towels too since the agitator has a tendency of tearing the pillows.  Set the machine to warm water setting unless the tag prohibits you from using warm water. Also, do not use too much detergent. When you use excessive detergent, the pillow will remain soapy even after the rinsing cycle.

You can dry poly-filled pillows with your machine but set it to low-heat. To redistribute the fluff, toss some tennis or dryer balls into the machine during the drying process.

Feather Filled Pillows

Machine washing is a controversial topic when it comes to cleaning feather filled pillows. Some people will tell you never to machine wash them. However, you can go ahead and do it.  Just like poly-filled pillows, follow the instructions on the tag. Additionally, make sure that you do not use much detergent so that the pillows can rinse properly. Delicate cycle, mild detergent and warm water is the perfect combination for machine washing of the feather filled pillows.

One of the most important things while cleaning feather filled pillows is to ensure that they dry completely. When they do not dry well, they develop mildew really fast- and you do not want that on your pillow. The downside of machine washing feather filled pillows is that the feathers do not like the machine’s heat. Therefore, you have to set a very low temperature which will result in the pillow taking much time to dry.

Use dryer balls or tennis balls to redistribute the fluff evenly during the drying process.

Cotton Filled Pillows

The first step is to remove the pillow from the pillowcase. Some pillows also come with an additional zipped case; unzip the case too to gain access to the pillow itself. Just like the previous pillows, it is perfectly safe to wash cotton –filled pillows with a washing machine. it is preferable to put two at once to prevent them from being tossed around too much.

Depending on the intensity of the dirt, add the detergent of your choice. If you want that sparkling look, you can add a bleaching agent. However, be careful with the amount of bleach you add since too much of the same might degrade the material or cause discolouration.

After this, start your machine and set it to hot water and the two rinse cycle. If your washer has the large/ bulky option, then set it on this cycle.

After washing them, put your pillows on the dryer and set it to low heat. Ensure that your pillows dry completely. Remember the tennis ball trick? Use it here too.

After the drying cycle is complete, inspect your pillows using your figures for any dumbness. If you find that they are not completely dry, repeat the drying and checking process again until you are satisfied they are completely dry.

Is There A Way On How To Clean Memory Foam Pillows?

One of the best ways to avoid complete cleaning of memory foam pillow is spot cleaning. But where this is not an option, complete cleaning is required. Have no worries since we have got you covered as we show how to clean memory foam pillows.

When it comes on how to clean memory foam pillows, the process is a bit different since they are not machine washed but hand washed. Even when hand washing your Memory foam pillow, be gentle since it is very delicate. Furthermore, do not use very strong detergents as this can damage the memory foam. The best way on how to clean memory foam is to submerge it into soapy water and rinse it until there is no more soapy water coming from the pillow.

After Cleaning Your Memory Foam How Should You Dry It?

How To Dry Pillows

First rule of thumb, do not wriggle the pillow. It will damage the memory foam and will not help much in the drying process. Pressing your pillow to remove most of the water is the best way to dry your memory foam pillow.

After this, dry the pillow by placing it outside especially when it is windy and hot. If that is not an option, you can use an electric fan to speed up the drying process.

Cleaning memory foam pillows can be a rigorous and tiring activity since memory foam is dense and sucks in a lot of water thus becoming very heavy. It also takes considerable time to dry.

Here are some important tools of trade (so to speak) that will come in handy during the process.

  • A hand vacuum or the regular vacuum with a soft brush attached to it.
  • A fabric cleaner of your choice
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Water
  • Tub or large basin
  • A hair dryer or an electric fan

When you have the above accessories then you are ready to start cleaning your memory foam and any other pillow that you choose to hand wash.

Pillow Cleaning Instructions

Pillow Cleaning Instructions

Remove the Top Protective Covers

The very first step is to remove the top protective covers so that you can access the pillow itself.

Vacuum Your Pillow Thoroughly

Vacuuming will help to remove any dust or pet hair that might be present in the pillow. Ensure that you vacuum both sides thoroughly.

Fill a Bath Tub or Large Sink with Water

You should mix the water with a mild detergent. Then completely submerge the pillow into the soapy solution.

Allow the Pillow to Soak In the Detergent for Some Time

After submerging the pillow into the solution, allow it to sit for a while. The purpose of the waiting period is to allow the detergent to break up the dirt and any stains for easier cleaning.

Rinse the Pillow

After soaking, rinse your pillow. Do not wring the pillow especially if it is made of memory foam. You should press down the pillow to remove the excess water.

Dry the Pillow

Leave the pillow outside to dry or use an electric fan to speed up the drying process.

The above washing method should take care of most dirt and odour problems. At times though, you might want to do spot cleaning, how should you go about it?

Cleaning Non Stubborn Stains

When tea or coffee spills into your pillow, use a cloth preferably a towel to absorb the excess liquid

Mix a washing detergent with water until the mixture is bubbly. Drop a sponge into the soapy water and rub the stain in a circular motion.

Dry your pillow outside or using a dryer

How to Clean More Stubborn Stains Like Blood and Wine

Apply Hydrogen peroxide on the stain and wait until it stops bubbling.

Spray the area with cold water and rub the stain gently. You can use an old toothbrush or a hand brush to do this. Continue rubbing until the stain gets clean.

How to Deodorize Your Pillow

At times, you might realize that your pillow has some funny smell especially when new. This is as a result of off-gassing which is a build-up of a harmless gas which during packaging. To eliminate the smell, just aerate the pillow. If the smell is a result of other factors like pet urine, then you need to deodorize your pillow.

Highlighted Below Are Two Very Effective Ways of Doing So

Sprinkle the pillow with baking soda and allow it to sit the whole night. The following day, vacuum it thoroughly with a soft brush.

You can also decide to use a citrus based cleaning product to lightly spray the pillow. Allow it to sit overnight and it vacuum it thoroughly with a soft brush the following day.


It is very important to take care of your memory foam pillow by washing it often. So long as you avoid using a washer to clean your memory foam pillow, then it should serve you well for a long time. A clean pillow will ensure that you get a very good night’s sleep.

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