Updated May 18, 2020Regularly washing your pillow preserves your sleep quality and health. Even if you wash your pillowcase once a week, pollen, dust, dandruff, and other debris stick to the pillow, inviting bacteria, odors, and mold, which cause health issues such as an irritated respiratory system.We recommend cleaning your pillow once a month. Be aware that washing your pillow incorrectly risks material damage, which can cause poor support and sleep lossIn this article, we will discuss how to clean a pillow based on its filling. We’ll also explore other ways to keep your cushion hygienic and when to retire your old pillow.Pillow Washing GuidelinesWashing your pillow the wrong way can damage the material, preventing the product from supporting your head and neck properly and increasing the risk of chronic pain. The manufacturer gives maintenance instructions for your pillow on the care label—we suggest following these instructions.If you don’t have your care tag in hand, follow our step-by-step instructions to make your pillow good as new.How to Wash Memory Foam PillowsMost memory foam pillows cannot go in the wash because they are a delicate material when wet. Memory foam can also melt if washed and dried using heat. Cleaning memory foam pillows is tricky—especially since the material’s density makes memory foam susceptible to mold and mildew if not dried quickly.The way you wash a memory foam pillow changes based on the filling. If the filling is solid, you will want to follow the steps below. If your pillow is stuffed with shredded memory foam and the cover gives access to the filling, you may wash the cover with your bed sheets once a month and replace the shredded memory foam filling every six months.To hand-wash, pull off the memory foam pillow’s protective cover and throw it in the washing machine with your bedsheets.Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water, add a small amount of mild detergent, and submerge the pillow. Gently squeeze the material until the water runs clear. Drain the tub and fill it with clean water. Then, submerge the pillow and squeeze until you don’t see suds.Drain the tub and press the excess water from the material. You can press the pillow between two dry towels to remove more water. To dry, let the pillow sit in direct sunlight and under a fan.How to Wash Latex PillowsLatex is another material that cannot go into the washing or drying machine. Latex is a sturdy material; however, it’s still susceptible to mold if not dried quickly.Place the pillow in the bathtub and dilute laundry detergent in a bucket of warm water. Pour the soapy water over the latex pillow and squeeze the pillow until you produce a nice lather.Run clean water over the pillow and squeeze until the water runs clear. Press the extra water from the cushion and dry in the sun or under a fan.How to Wash Down PillowsYou can wash down pillows in the washing machine. If your washing machine has an agitator, you should place the two pillows on either side of it to keep the machine balanced.Side note: No matter the pillow’s filling, if your pillow is larger than a king-size, you’ll need an industrial washer to clean it properly. To start, pour a small amount of mild detergent into the washer and fill it with warm water. Place two pillows into the machine and set the machine to a gentle cycle. Remember to spin the excess water from the cushions.Place the damp pillows in the dryer with two clean tennis balls and set the dryer to low heat. The balls will fluff the pillows as they dry.How to Wash Feather PillowsBefore washing, make sure the down pillow’s cover is untorn. If the pillow cover has holes, the filling could escape the cover and damage the washing machine.You will want to place the pillows in the washing machine two at a time. Set the washer to the delicate cycle and add some liquid detergent. Make sure to spin the extra water from the pillows or they won’t dry quickly.Transfer the pillows to the dryer with two dryer balls. The balls will break up clumping, fluff your pillows, and reduce drying time.How to Wash Synthetic PillowsPolyester pillows are cleaned the same way as down and feather pillows.Add a mild detergent in the washing machine and place two pillows in the drum. Put the washer on the spin cycle to get rid of excess water and place the synthetic pillows in the dryer. Tumble dry on low.How to Wash Buckwheat PillowsBuckwheat pillows are filled with thousands of buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat hulls cannot get wet or they will mold and lose support, making the cover the only washable portion of the pillow.You can hand wash the cover in cold water and hang dry on a clothesline to prevent the material from shrinking. We suggest replacing the buckwheat hulls every six months for hygiene reasons.Keeping Your Pillows CleanTo limit the number of times you wash your pillows, you can take measures to keep them clean.Use a PillowcaseDebris falls from the ceiling to settle on your pillow. Pollen, dead skin cells, and other debris in the air can cling to the cushion’s cover.Pillowcases add an extra layer to protect your pillow from grime. We recommend washing the pillowcase once a week, so the pillow cover continues to keep the pillow fresh.Don’t Eat in BedCrumbs and stains encourage bacteria and dust mites to make homes in your pillow, causing the respiratory system to become irritated.Air Out Your PillowSpot cleaning stains will cut down on how often you have to wash your pillow. It will prevent bacteria growth and discourage bugs from nesting in your bedding; however, spot cleaning doesn’t replace washing your pillow altogether.Deodorize Your PillowThe human body perspires during sleep, which means the pillow will start to stink—especially if the pillow sits in an unventilated room. Airing out your pillow prevents it from producing odd odors.Fluffing maintains the pillow’s shape, removes dust particles, and allows air to circulate through the pillow’s filling, which removes odd smells. Hanging your pillow outdoors on a clothesline every month will keep the pillow fresh.You can deodorize a memory foam pillow one of two ways.Your first option is to sprinkle baking soda over the top of the memory foam and let it sit for 2 hours. Vacuum up the baking soda with an upholstery attachment and repeat on the other side.Setting your pillow in direct sunlight is your second option, as sunlight is a natural deodorizer.When to Replace Your PillowUnfortunately, pillows can’t last forever. Sooner or later, you will need to throw it in the trash.There are several ways to tell if you need a new pillow:The pillow is no longer supportive. If your pillow cannot keep your head aligned with the rest of your spine, it’s not doing its job.A pillow that smells like mold is probably molding. Throw a molding pillow into the trash. Continuing to sleep with it can risk your health.There are noticeable lumps in the filler material. After a pillow has been washed so many times, the filling will clump together, making it uncomfortable.You wake with neck and shoulder pain—a sign of an unsupportive pillow.You’re waking up sneezing or with a stuffy nose. An inflamed respiratory system might mean your pillow has collected dust and dust mites.If you retire your pillow after a specific time, you may not experience an unclean or unsupportive pillow.Replace loose-fill pillows every 6 months.Replace solid memory foam pillows every 12 to 36 months.Replace buckwheat and shredded memory foam filling every 6 months.Replace latex pillows every 2 years.Frequently Asked QuestionsHow do you deep clean pillows?Our steps above discuss the best practices for deep cleaning pillows—unfortunately, you can’t “deep clean” any more than throwing your pillow in the washing machine or allowing for a sudsy soak. With that, though, we suggest adding a cup of baking soda and a bit of white vinegar in with your gentle detergent when washing to boost freshness and eliminate odors.Why do pillows turn yellow?Pillows collect dust mites, sweat, and body oil every night, and over time, they can develop a yellowy tinge. The best way to prevent this is to wash your pillows regularly and use a pillow cover (in addition to your pillowcase).How can I make my pillows white again?Fill your washing machine up all the way with two pillows inside. Push the pillows around so they’re fully soaked. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide, a half cup of vinegar, and a quarter cup of lemon juice to the water. Then, let the pillows soak for 30 minutes. Flip, and let the pillows soak for another 30 minutes.After they’re done soaking, add your laundry detergent and run your pillows through a normal wash cycle. Follow instructions on the care tag to dry your pillows.Can you machine wash throw pillows?Yes, but it’s important that they’re completely and thoroughly dried before using them again. Most throw pillows should air dry outside in the sun or in an airy room, however, some can be thrown in the dryer.How do you disinfect throw pillows?The best way to disinfect your throw pillows is to wash and thoroughly dry them. However, if your throw pillow cannot be washed, we recommend sprinkling it with some borax or spraying it with a spray disinfectant.ConclusionIt’s inevitable—your pillow will accumulate dust, sweat, and other debris, even if you maintain it. To keep your pillows hygienic and extend their lifespan, wash them once a month as directed by the care label. If you’re unable to find the care tag, follow one of our easy pillow washing instructions.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. 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