Updated at: 12-03-2021 - By: Jane

An unwashed or dirty pillow attracts bacteria, fungi, and all sorts of germs from body oils, sweat, saliva and dust. You’re prone to skin irritations, bad odor and allergies if you keep your pillow unwashed for more than 6 months. Just like you regularly attend to your other beddings, your pillow needs attention too. At least, twice every year.

Pillows come in different materials, shapes, styles, design, sizes and for different purposes. Endeavor to read the instructions on your pillow care tag for guidance as they come with different cleaning restrictions.

How to Wash Pillows: A Complete Guide.

If you cut off your care tag or simply need illustrations on how to wash pillows, follow this simple guide for different ways to do so:

How to Wash Pillows in a Washing Machine 04/2024

Choosing whether to wash in a machine or by hand depends on the care tag that comes with the pillow. Some pillows are restricted from being machine washed and others can be cleaned with both methods.

Decorative Pillows

Unlike the other pillows, most throw pillows are made with delicate cushions and adornments. It’s recommended to utilize a front-loading machine as compared to a top-loading machine, to avoid pale and spotty pillows. Here are great tips on how to wash decorative pillows.

  • Refer to your care tag to determine if the pillow is safe for machine washing.
  • For pillows with removable covers, remove the cover and wash the two separately.
  • Use mild detergent and warm water.
  • For a balanced load, deep a pair of pillows.
  • Wash on gentle or delicate cycle.
  • Allow the rinse cycle to run twice to avoid detergent patches after wash.
  • Wring gently in a terry towel. Lay the pillow on the towel, do one fold at a time as you press on.
  • Go on to use a fresh towel if the other is soaked. Until it’s now dry.
  • Refer back to the care tag to choose whether to dry it in a dryer or hang them out in the sun.
  • Remember to fluff them back to their decorative state.

Feather Pillows

Like throw pillows, feather pillows are even more fragile, with little or no knowledge on how to clean them. That’s why people shy away from buying or owning any.

Almost no manufacturer recommends washing a feather pillow in anyway. Never the less, Martha Stewart elaborates how to wash feather pillows in a washing machine in her pillow posts. Here’s how to:

  • Uncover the pillows from their pillowcases.
  • Look out for any tiny holes that might cause the feathers to spew out during the washing.
  • Put your desired amount of a mild detergent in warm to hot water.
  • Once the detergent has dissolved, assemble two feather pillows in the machine.
  • Wash on a gentle cycle.
  • Do the rinse cycle twice to clean out the detergent from the machine.
  • After thorough rinsing, Place your feather pillows in a dryer on low heat.
  • Envelope some tennis balls in clean white socks to keep the feathers in order.
  • Keep flipping your pillows every after 30 minutes, until dry.

Bed Pillows

Bed pillows are one of the easiest types to clean or wash. Follow these tips to understand how to wash bed pillows:

  • Remove the pillow cases.
  • Fill the tub with warm water
  • Put a desired amount of mild detergent
  • Agitate the water to dissolve the detergent.
  • Place two pillows at a go to get a balanced load.
  • Engage the longest wash cycle your machine can offer to enable deep cleaning.
  • After the first wash, stop the machine before it fills, and flip the pillows over.
  • Re-start the washing machine and let it complete the final cycle.
  • Dry them in the dryer before outdoor drying. This is to help drain all the water to ease the the drying process.
  • Put your pillows out in the sun to avoid the stench that comes from a long drying process.

This washing machine procedure applies to a lot of pillows including:

  • Down pillows
  • Calvin Klein pillows
  • Couch pillows
  • Synthetic pillows
  • Outdoor pillows
  • Body pillows
  • Yellow pillows
  • Fiberfil pillows
  • Cotton pillows

Polyester Pillows

Polyester pillows are one of the commonly used pillows lately. You’ll normally find them in various sizes covered in fabrics like cotton, bamboo, linen and silk. The fact that they are affordable, readily available and hypo-allergenic has made them famous and preferred over the years. Plus, they have a swift and easy washing.

Here is how to clean polyester pillows:

  • Check to fix any tears and stains first before you place them in the washing machine.
  • In case of stains, use a clean cloth and laundry detergent to gently clean the pillow beforehand.
  • Wash pillow covers regularly, to keep your pillows clean and tidy. This is for pillows with removable covers. Wash them with mild laundry detergent in warm water once per month. If not removable, change pillow cases once every week.
  • Polyester pillows should ideally, be washed by hand. All you need is cold water and a small portion of your desired laundry detergent. It should be a mild one.
  • Add cold water into a basin or tub. Add the detergent, and place your polyester pillow in.
  • Squeeze the pillows, gently, back and forth, until clean. Discard that water and repeat this with clean water.
  • When satisfied, discard the water and repeatedly press on the pillows until there’s no more water coming out.
  • Do not wring or you risk damage.
  • Toss them in a dryer along with wool dryer balls or enveloped tennis balls, in clean white socks. This is done to avoid clumping.
  • Remember to personally re-fluff your pillows every 20 minutes.
  • You can as well opt for natural drying, out in the sun.

How to Wash Pillows: A Complete Guide.

Washing Cotton, Down, and Synthetic Pillows

  • Remove the case

If you have placed your pillow in a pillowcase or shame, take this off now. Some pillows come  with additional zip-on cases that should also be removed and washed separately from the body of the pillow

Remvove the case of pillow

  • Put your pillows in the washing machine:

Don’t worry – it is perfectly safe to wash pillows (even down pillows) in the washing machine. Try to wash at least two at once so that the washer is balanced and the pillows don’t get thrown around so much.

Put your pillows in the washing machine

  • Add your detergent:

For a regular wash job, add a cup, scoop of your regular washing detergent, To get your pillows ultra white, add the following in addition to the detergent: 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, 1 cup of bleach, and ½ a cup of borax

  • Start the wash cycle:

Adjust the settings on your washer so that it runs with hot water and goes through a 2nd rinse cycle. Then let it work its magic!

start the wash cycle

  • Put your pillow in the dryer:

Place your pillows in the dryer and adjust the settings; if your pillows are feather-filled, put your dryer on the “air” setting. For synthetic pillows, switch your dryer to low heat

Put your pillow in the dryer

  • Dry your pillow:

Take two tennis balls and put them in separate clean, white socks. Throw these in the dryer with your pillows to fluff them and help decrease their drying time. Then start your dryer.

Dry your pillow

  • Check your pillows:

When your dryer has finished its cycle, remove the pillows and feel them, checking for dampness. Smell the pillows to check for moisture in the center. If your pillows don’t feel quite dry, repeat the drying process and check them again a second time. Otherwise, your pillow are clean and ready!

Check your pillows

How to Clean Pillows that can’t be Put in a Washing Machine.

Not all pillows can be put in a washing machine. If a pillow is restricted from machine washing, or if it’s just one without a removable cover, you need the necessary tools to ease its cleaning. Such pillows include:

  • Gel pillows
  • Water based pillows
  • Foam pillows

You need some rubber gloves, a large terry cloth towel, spacious basin or tub, a vacuum cleaner, detergent, warm water, a soft scrubbing brush, and clean old sheet. For effective cleaning.

Here’s how:

  • Your vacuum cleaner should have an upholstery tool attached to it.
  • Pass the vacuum cleaner over the throw pillow to remove any dirt or elements like crumbs, hair, dust ,etc.
  • Add a reasonable amount of water into your tub or basin.
  • Wear a pair of gloves to add the instructed portions of detergent or cleaning solution to the water.
  • Make sure the water and solution are well agitated and dissolved.
  • Push your pillow gently into the tab until it’s properly submerged.
  • Repeatedly let the pillows rise back to the water surface as you push them back to be soaked. Do this to your satisfaction.
  • With a soft scrub brush, gently scrub your pillow as you watch out for delicate adornments. Put some more attention and force on visibly stained areas.
  • Remove excess lather by submerging it again.
  • Repeat the scrubbing process with the other side.
  • Extract the pillow and emit the water with the detergent.
  • Re-fill the tub with clean water and repeat the submerging trick to rinse out the detergent.
  • Lay the terry cloth towel straight on the floor and wrap the pillow with it.
  • Gently squeeze it to drain all the water.
  • Finally, choose whether to use a dryer or out in the sun, for drying.

Washing Memory Foam Pillows

  • Remove the cover:

If your pillow has a pillowcase or sham, take it off prior to washing. Most memory foam pillows also have a zip-on protective cover that should be removed as well. These items can be washed separately and in a washing machine.

  • Fill a tub with water:

Washing machines pro too rough for sensitive memory foam, so pillows of this material must be hand washed. Fill a tub (or your sink) with warm water. You only need enough water  to cover the  pillow.

  • Add your detergent:

For each pillow, and a tablespoon of liquid clothes detergent to the water. Swirl it around with your hands a bit to bubble it up and get it evenly mixed.

  • Wash your pillow:

Place your pillow in the water, and move it around the bit to help the detergent to work its way in.

Massage and squeeze the pillow with your hands to help get dirt out and to freshen it past the outer layer.

  • Rinse the pillow:

Run the pillow under fresh water. It is important to get as much of the soap out as you can, checking for suds in the runout. Rinsing the pillow may take several minutes longer than washing it.

  • Dry the pillow:

High heat levels can ruin the memory foam and cause it to crumble, so do not put your memory foam pillow in the dryer. Instead, lay it out on a clean white towel in a dry area. If possible, allow it  to dry in the sun.

  • Check the pillow:

Memory foam is especially susceptible to holding water for a long time, as it is made out of a sponge-like material. Make sure that there is absolutely no water left in the material before bringing it back for use on your bed, otherwise it will begin to grow mold and mildew.

How to Clean Yellow Pillows with Hydrogen Peroxide (DIY)

You don’t have to keep buying a new pillow set whenever your pillows turn yellow or wear out. With these effective, yet cheap DIY simple steps, you can get yourself freshly white pillows:

First things first, you’ll need the following to set off:

  • Hydrogen peroxide( For instant whitening)
  • Laundry solution/detergent( to fasten the process)
  • Vinegar(to attack the stains)
  • Warm or hot water
  • Laundry booster( to boost your detergents powers)


  • Place your yellow pillows in the washing machine to soak. Put two pillows to balance the load, hence even cleaning.
  • Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup of vinegar to the washing machine drum.
  • Let to soak.
  • Add your desired amount of laundry solution plus the booster.
  • Wash to your satisfaction.
  • Emit the pillows and place them in the dryer.
  • It is advisable to put your dryer-dried pillows out in the sun to avoid the stench.

How to Wash Pillows with Baking Soda

Using a washing machine


  • Baking soda.
  • Mild laundry detergent.
  • Warm water.
  • Detergent booster.


  1. As usual, remember to go through your pillow’s care tag, to determine whether your pillow is machine safe or not. Lest you risk damage.
  2. Remove the pillow case or protector.
  3. Squeeze all the air out of your pillow
  4. With a stain removal spray or a paste from your baking soda, trace any stain and clean it off before you start with the formula. This can be liters of food, make-up stains, e.t.c. To achieve this, add water to baking soda to form a paste, use a piece of cotton or cloth to stain clean by dabbing your pillows surface.
  5. Mix ½ a cup of vinegar, ¾ cup of baking soda, a cup of laundry detergent and 1/2 a cup of laundry booster in the washing machine drum.
  6. Place your pillows, preferably two for even cleaning.
  7. Run the first cycle
  8. Interfere to flip the pillows over. Then run the second cycle.
  9. Give it a two rinse cycle or even more.
  10. Examine your pillow for any stubborn stains. In case of unpleasant results, place the pillows back in the washer and consider adding ½ a cup of hydrogen peroxide, being that it’s stronger than baking soda.
  11. If you’re just after the color and it still hasn’t changed, then there’s nothing you can do other than covering it up in a fresh pillow case. Still, if the odor remains after the procedure, consider buying a new pillow.
  12. If satisfied, toss your pillows in a dryer along with some tennis balls enveloped in clean white socks, for a faster drying process.
  13. Ensure your pillows are thoroughly dry to avoid dampness after.
  14. You can put them out in the sun for natural disinfection and freshness.

How to Washing Pillows by Using Hands


  • Vinegar.
  • A basin.
  • Warm water.
  • Essential Oil.
  • Spray bottle.
  • Mild laundry detergent.


  • Leave your pillows for a few hours under sun light. This makes them freshen up.
  • In the spray bottle, Put the white vinegar.
  • Mix up the vinegar with 10 drops of essential oil of your choice. It can be vanilla, rosemary, or lavender. Do this to get rid of the irritating smell of vinegar. Then shake vigorously.
  • Ensure to spray the surface of your pillow evenly.
  • Put a desired amount of detergent in a basin of warm water. Dip your pillow in.
  • This is done if the pillows are safe to wash with machines.
  • For fibrefill pillows, repeatedly squeeze your soaked pillow until it’s visibly clean. Though, for best results, you need to use the baking soda paste and an old tooth brush to brush off the stains from the surface of your pillow.
  • Leave the pillow untouched for 30 minutes.
  • Finally, rinse your pillow under running water in a basin or tub, until it’s clear of the previously used paste.
  • Toss the pillows in a dryer with the right air and heat levels. Keep flipping them for thorough drying or you risk dampness.
  • If you don’t have a dryer, consider leaving it out in the sun on the cloth line or clean white cloth.

After How Long Should You Wash or Clean a Pillow?

  • For the pillow case, you need to clean it once or twice in three weeks.
  • Check your pillow to see if you need to replace it altogether. If you fold your pillow in half and it stays in place, it is too old and needs to be replaced. If your pillow springs back, then it is good and just needs a washing. On average, you should replace your pillows once every two years.
  • Pillows should be washed 2-3 times per year to remove sweat, bodily oils, dander, and dust buildup.
  • Throw pillows on couches can be cleaned the same way the pillows on your bed can. Just be sure to remove their covers when possible to keep them protected.

Pillows are essential items in our day to day life. And if your health matters to you, you definitely want a clean pillow all the time. Pick a leaf or two from this guide and you will have saved yourself a lot of time guessing how to wash pillows.

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